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How Forgiveness Can Help Us Break The Cycle of Trauma

One minute Botham Jean was sat in his home, watching television while enjoying some ice cream, the next minute he was dead. His crime: being at home while black. Over the last week we have watched his murderer Amber Guyer face a jury of her peers and be sentenced to 10 years in prison for his murder. This verdict has shocked and angered black people around the world. Based on judicial patterns, there was little hope that Guyer would be sentenced, however the perceived lack of length to her sentence has shown many that even when white people are held accountable, they are barely made to face punishment.

In the midst of these mixed emotions, spectators of this case got to witness Botham’s younger brother, Brandt, offer up forgiveness and a hug to Guyer. This act shocked, confused and incensed many who could not fathom Brandt’s actions given that Botham’s murder is one of many cases of police officers killing innocent African Americans. This choice to forgive felt like a betrayal to many who had become emotionally invested in the case, forced by the constant murdering of black bodies by law officials to don what now feels like perpetual mourning clothes. It felt as though Brandt was speaking for the collective without asking permission or for a consensus.