Amber Guyger And The Negro Spirituality: Grace To The Graceless

By Ikenga Chronicles October 5, 2019

Amber Guyger And The Negro Spirituality: Grace To The Graceless

— Dr. Vitus Ozoke

Here’s the video of the 18-year old brother of late Botham Jean hugging Botham’s killer cop, Amber Guyger, after Guyger was handed an early Christmas present for punishment in a racially corrupt and rigged criminal justice system called America.

Amber Guyger is the white off-duty Dallas police officer who shot and killed 28-year old black man Botham Jean in his own apartment, allegedly mistaking his apartment for hers, and him for a criminal intruder. This incident occurred September 6 of last year. In her 911 call to report the incident, Amber Guyger, while Botham lay in the pool of his own blood, gasping for life, was more concerned for her job security than she was for dying Botham.

The trial was swift, as Guyger was found guilty of murder, but the sentencing showed yet again the color of American justice. A white cop goes into a 28-year old black man’s apartment, mistaking it for hers, shoots and murders him, and gets away with a sentence of 10 years in prison with parole eligibility after 5. What it means is that Guyger can become a free woman after 5 years.

Let’s be clear here: thousands of black men and women are doing way more times for way less crimes in prisons across America. But here’s Botham’s younger brother hugging his brother’s killer minutes after she was given a slap on the wrist for punishment.

I know there have been cheers and praises and commendations for what the young man did. People have held him up as exemplary and a living testament to the virtue of forgiveness in its purest of form. I beg to differ and disagree. Watching and listening to the young man, what I saw was a confused kid struggling with internal contradictions to fit into an emergent Black spirituality. It’s a spirituality that is forged on the phoney concept of Black spiritu-normative superiority. It presents and projects the Black community as a rare and special breed, able to offer forgiveness in circumstances where other racial breeds will gracelessly seek revenge. It is a highly problematic spirituality, both for the Black and other race groups.

For the Black, it sucks oxygen out of the moral crusade of Black Lives Matter when Black victims hand out forgiveness like Santa’s cookies even before they have had time to grieve and process their losses. It mocks the natural DNA of the human emotion. For the White who have been the recipients of gratuitous Black forgiveness, it complicates the moral tension of guilt, remorse, repentance, responsibility, and justice. How will the next black killing not occur when the White perpetrator is guaranteed moral exculpation by his victim?

And do Black victims really forgive when they announce that they forgive their White killers, or do they do that to comport with this emergent superior negro spirituality? Let me be very clear, I am a very strong believer and advocate of restorative justice. I believe in the superiority of victim-offender driven justice. I belive that. What I strongly scoff at is the made-for-TV drama of forgiveness even before the forgiver has had time to fully understand and process his loss and grief in all of their dimensions.

Botham Jean was shot and killed by Amber Guyger, in his own apartment, mistaking him for a Black intruder in her own (Guyger’s) apartment. A White intruder with gun, breaks into a 28-year old Black man’s apartment, shoots and kills him, because she thought the occupational and proprietary equities were the other way around. And even before Botham’s body has frozen cold in the ground, his 18-year old surviving brother has forgiven his cold-blooded murderer. There’s something wrong with that picture.

Guyger was driven by racial impulse when she shot Botham Jean. She was impelled by racial stereotype when she “stood her ground” and murdered an innocent Black man in his own castle. Had Botham Jean been a 28-year old White male placed in the same circumstances on that fateful September 6, 2018, he would still be alive today. Had Botham Jean’s younger brother allowed himself enough time to mourn and process the details of his brother’s death, his forgiveness would have made better sense to me. And don’t get me wrong: I would hold the same view were the racial dynamics of this case reversed. I would not expect a White victim to forgive a Black perpetrator before the victim has had time to mourn and process the loss and the grief that comes with it.

The question must be asked: apart from my theory of emergent superior negro spirituality, what else drives the Black propensity to forgive their White victimizers even before they have fully mourned and grieved their loss? Is TV a factor? Is there a desire for moral endorsement and heroism? Would Black victims be as willing to announce their forgiveness of their White killers if they knew that their gesture would not receive public attention and accolades? Are Black victims driven by the allure of heroism facilitated by media publicity? What about an uncelebrated, quiet, and private restorative justice encounter between the Black victim and their White offender, away from the glare of TV cameras? Wouldn’t that be the real forgiveness?

I believe in forgiveness. I believe in forgiveness when it is rightly dispensed. I believe in forgiveness because forgiveness is a great virtue. Forgiveness is mercy’s cousin. Like mercy, forgiveness is a double blessing. Shakespeare put it best in Portia’s mouth in Merchant of Venice: “No one shows mercy because he has to. It just happens, the way gentle rain drops on the ground. Mercy is a double blessing. It blesses the one who gives it and the one who receives it…” The negro spirituality seems to command the Black victim to grace and forgiveness. But, like Shakespeare rightly noted, “no one should show mercy because he has to”

Sleep well, Botham Jean!

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