Isaac Newton Farris Jr. on the unearned suffering that American Blacks continue to receive from America’s judicial system.


First published in October 2019.


Since the 13 colonies declared themselves an independent American nation in 1776, it has been blessed to have a segment of its society that has served as the redemptive soul of America. Unfortunately for that segment of society it also has had to endure the most brutal and inhumane treatment while simultaneously serving as the redemptive soul of America.

In the process of evolving into the world’s superpower, America has committed many transgressions against itself. American Blacks have disproportionately been the victims of those transgressions. Being the disproportionate victims above all others in America combined with the reaction to the transgressions has made American Blacks the redemptive soul of America.

America is a nation founded and guided by secular constitutional laws that were inspired by Christian principles. Two main pillars of those Christian principles are forgiveness and redemption. Throughout American history, American Blacks have consistently served as the premier exemplar of America’s commitment to both of these principles. The exemplar began with America’s original sin of slavery and American Black’s reaction to it.

Slavery’s dehumanizing condition was a circumstance that only American Blacks were forced to endure, it was the cruelest condition that no other class of Americans was ever disgraced with. Not Native Americans who were forced off of their lands to reservations, not the Irish or Italian immigrants who came to America and were treated as second class citizens, or the Japanese who came to America and were limited to the under paid manual labor work of building America’s railroads. All these classes of people were at least considered to be human beings, American Blacks were not.

American Blacks were considered non-human chattel property equal to horses and mules to be used as unpaid labor to farm land, perform household chores, and construct buildings. They were forced to sexually mate with people they did not choose too while given no freedom to determine the fate of the children the mating produced. They had no freedom to determine when and where they would sleep, when and what they would eat, and no freedom to determine when and where they would travel to.

Despite enduring this cruel and inhumane treatment for over 100 years American Blacks never drank from the cup of bitterness and violent retaliation, instead, uneducated slaves adopted the Christian principles that American Whites falsely claimed they lived by. America Black slaves created their own Christian religion that emphasized love, hope, and forgiveness. This creation was the birth of something that did not truly exist in the United States, the redemptive soul of America.

American Blacks’ redemptive soul inspired them to fight in the American Civil War for the promise of their freedom from slavery, and it sustained them when non-redemptive white America replaced slavery with Jim Crow discrimination and segregation. Nearly 100 years after the Civil War and the half-step freedom it produced for American Blacks the redemptive soul of America would rise to the occasion once again.

The redemptive soul of America would finally finish what the American White founding fathers started but did not complete, when they founded America based on the proposition, “That all men are created equal.” The American Black Christian Church produced the Civil Rights Movement. It was led by Martin Luther King Jr’s philosophy of non-violent resistance to discrimination and oppression combined with love, forgiveness, and redemption. It broke down all existing barriers and made real the proposition that all people regardless of race, culture, ethnicity, religion, no religion, gender, sexuality, age, and political beliefs are created equal and entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Making real in America the fact that all people are created equal, a proposition that our American White founding fathers merely wrote and talked about, was made possible because American Black slaves realized from day 1 that unearned and undeserved suffering was redemptive. Dr. King speaks to his realization about unearned suffering in an article he wrote in 1960:

“Due to my involvement in the struggle for the freedom of my people, I have known very few quiet days in the last few years. I have been arrested five times and put in Alabama jails. My home has been bombed twice. A day seldom passes that my family and I are not the recipients of threats of death. I have been the victim of a near fatal stabbing. So in a real sense, I have been battered by the storms of persecution. I must admit that at times I have felt that I could no longer bear such a heavy burden, and have been tempted to retreat to a more quiet and serene life. But every time such a temptation appeared, something came to strengthen and sustain my determination. I have learned now that the Master’s burden is light precisely when we take his yoke upon us.

My personal trials have also taught me the value of unmerited suffering. As my sufferings mounted I soon realized that there were two ways that I could respond to my situation: either to react with bitterness or seek to transform the suffering into a creative force. I decided to follow the latter course. Recognizing the necessity for suffering I have tried to make of it a virtue. If only to save myself from bitterness, I have attempted to see my personal ordeals as an opportunity to transform myself and heal the people involved in the tragic situation which now obtains. I have lived these last few years with the conviction that unearned suffering is redemptive.”

Fortunately for America, the influence of the redemptive soul of America has not been limited to the 18th, 19th, or 20th centuries, its influence is now being felt in the 21st century. In the 1990s new federal regulations and various state laws gave victims of crime the right to make victim impact statements, allowing them to speak publically at the sentence hearings of those convicted of committing the crimes against them. This right has traditionally been used by the victims to express their anger and hatred towards the guilty person or persons.

There have been 3 notable exceptions to this traditional use of victim impact statements, all 3 by American Blacks. 2 of the 3 occurred in 2017 at the sentencing of Dylann Roof, who in June of 2015 killed nine American Black parishioners who had gathered at a Charleston, South Carolina, church for Bible study. Roof a self-proclaimed white supremacist confessed to committing the Charleston attack with the intention of starting a race war.

At his sentence hearing Felicia Sanders, a shooting survivor and the mother of one of the nine slain victims told Roof:

“I forgive you, May God have mercy on your soul.”

Dan Simmons Jr. son of one of the nine murdered victims said to Roof:

“I forgive you. I know that you don’t understand that, but God requires me to forgive you. I forgive you. He also requires me to plead and pray for you, and I do that. Understand that as you have been judged, know that you have an opportunity to ask for forgiveness. Know that you can change your life. Stay focused. I guarantee if you choose to serve him you will have a better life.”

The third example of the redemptive soul of America occurred last week at the sentencing hearing of Amber Guyger, a former Dallas police officer who shot and killed her unarmed black neighbor after stepping into his apartment mistaking it for her own, and thinking he was an intruder. Brandt Jean, the victim’s brother took the stand citing his Christian faith said unlike his brother who spoke before him he did not wish for her to rot in jail. “I love you as a person, and I don’t wish anything bad on you,” he then stopped to make an unusual request to the Judge, “I don’t know if this is possible, but can I give her a hug please?” The Judge did grant the request.

Botham Jean’s younger brother, Brandt Jean, hugs former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger after delivering his victim-impact statement. / abc NEWS

At the end of the trial, Judge Tammy Kemp gave convicted murderer Amber Guyger a Bible and a hug, possible proof that her unbelievable light and miscarriage of justice sentence that she imposed was due to personal bias.

Unfortunately, this third example of the redemptive soul of America is also an example of the unearned suffering that American Blacks continue to receive from America’s judicial system. The American Black Judge who presided over the trial was apparently so moved, most say unjustly so, by the redemptive soul of America example that she committed a miscarriage of justice and imposed a sentence of just 10 years.

Meaning with good behavior Guyger could go free after serving only 5 years. There are currently American Blacks convicted of non-violent drug offenses serving more time than 5 years in prison. It is a very safe bet that had a black male who accidently walked into a white woman’s apartment and killed her would die in jail. One can only hope and pray that this case of unearned, unmerited, and unfair miscarriage of justice becomes redemptive in the future for American Blacks seeking fair justice in America’s judicial system!!!🔷



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[This piece was originally published on Isaac Newton Farris Jr.’s blog and re-published in PMP Magazine on 9 October 2019, with the author’s consent. | The author writes in a personal capacity.]

(Cover: Gif of Brandt Jean hugging former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger.



     

THE AUTHOR

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Nephew of Martin Luther King Jr, he serves as Senior Fellow at King Center. Growing up in one of the most socially & politically active families has given him a unique perspective on current events.

Atlanta, GA, USA. Articles in PMP Magazine Website