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Black Lives Matter

Allies, stop asking your Black friend to forgive you

words by: Natasha Marsh
Jun 1, 2020

To all the Black people feeling a certain way towards friends that are meant to be allies. And to all the non-Blacks who have a willingness to understand. This is for you.

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The past two weeks I have received an influx of messages sharing compassion, apologies, feelings of shame for being privilege, and pleas for forgiveness. Here is what I have to say.
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Apologizing for not reaching out sooner feels like this is the first time you’ve tuned in, which is actually exhausting. But OK, fine, a teaching moment. A moment for me to be the bridge and educate. That is a role I am happy to take on.
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What I can’t get behind is non-Black people’s pleas for forgiveness. The notion that I now need to end all conversations with,  “I forgive you.” My goal for having these hard conversations is to come away with a collective understanding that Black men and women being murdered is hurtful, disturbing, confusing and affecting Black people. However, it has turned into a long list of apologies and justifications for not reaching out sooner. It has altered my role of teaching to lending forgiveness to make you feel better.
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What you’re doing is apologizing for your privilege and making it about you. That is the definition of privilege. The same way I was born African, is the same way you were born privileged. You’re born into it. You cannot help that you are privileged by nature, but you can do is choose how you use it. What I would like to see is you exercising it for good. I would like to see you learn your audience and platform. And share words that only you can share to affect change.
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It is not my responsibility or any other Black male and female to forgive you or allow you to feel better. To put a band-aid on your wound. That puts an unbelievable amount of  pressure on Black people – who are already hurting and navigating how to feel in fragile environments – to now lift that weight and “burden” off you.
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It is OK to feel bad. Horrible things have happened. This week alone. I would be deeply concerned if you didn’t feel bad. I think it’s important to sit in that discomfort. That’s part of the movement too. To put yourself in the shoes of the oppressed. To understand that they feel discomfort every single day. And to put action to it.
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So I’m not going to say I forgive you, because that is not what this is about. I don’t want to discount your feelings because they are real, but I want you to know that is exhausting and disturbing. I am not saying you’re right, my word is law. I am saying this is not a time of justifications but instead one of sincerity and understanding.
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To stand in solidarity with the protesters, consider donating to bail funds – to find one in your area, check out this collaborative document.

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