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Some See Christian Compassion in 'The Hug'; Others Not So Much

October 10 – October 23, 2019
the hug

When the White woman who shot and killed an innocent Black man in his own home got hugs from the victim’s younger brother and the Black judge in court this week, some saw it as a demonstration of Christian compassion and forgiveness.

Others saw something a bit sinister.

“It’s not unusual for the family of victims to express compassion regardless of color and religion. But White supremacy operates in our minds even when the victim is Black,” said the Rev. Mark Kelly Tyler, pastor of Mother Bethel AME Church. “There is this idea that somehow this White woman deserves forgiveness in the very moment that she has been convicted of doing something indescribably evil … It is a problem because it indicates the internalization of racism and self-hatred.”

Philadelphia-based counselor Stephen Milburn said he believes the Christian forgiveness displayed by African Americans in Dallas this week and in South Carolina in 2015 is “very much... tied to faith.” But, he pointed out, it is not specific to African Americans.

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