Failures of Forgiveness: What We Get Wrong and How to Do Better (Hardcover)
It is a part of every tragedy: reporters with mics shoved into the faces of family members grieving loss, asking if they forgive the murderer, as if the victim’s forgiveness will solve the underlying problems that precipitated the behavior. From the personal to the societal, Myisha Cherry reveals the myths and the dangers of piling onto victims’ load of grief the weight of their responsibility to forgive wrongdoers, to heal, to allow us to “move on.” From family members begging us to forgive to keep the peace, to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa, Cherry unpacks both the possibility of healing and the performative aspect of forgiveness which can prevent us from making real change. This book is for every community trying to do the real work of “radical repair.” The burden of repairing our system should not be placed on the people who have been harmed by it; Myisha brilliantly details a path to aid victims on their reparative journey and in so doing, leads our communities to real change. For those who have read The 1619 Project and Myisha’s The Case for Rage, The Failures of Forgiveness is the next step in bringing radical repair to our communities.— Linda
Philosopher Myisha Cherry teaches us the right ways to deal with wrongdoing in our lives and the worldSages from Cicero to Oprah have told us that forgiveness requires us to let go of negative emotions and that it has a unique power to heal our wounds. In Failures of Forgiveness, Myisha Cherry argues that these beliefs couldn't be more wrong--and that the ways we think about and use forgiveness, personally and as a society, can often do more harm than good. She presents a new and healthier understanding of forgiveness--one that will give us a better chance to recover from wrongdoing and move toward "radical repair." Cherry began exploring forgiveness after some relatives of the victims of the mass shooting at Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina, forgave what seemed unforgiveable. She was troubled that many observers appeared to be more inspired by these acts of forgiveness than they were motivated to confront the racial hatred that led to the killings. That is a big mistake, Cherry argues. Forgiveness isn't magic. We can forgive and still be angry, there can be good reasons not to forgive, and forgiving a wrong without tackling its roots solves nothing. Examining how forgiveness can go wrong in families, between friends, at work, and in the media, politics, and beyond, Cherry addresses forgiveness and race, canceling versus forgiving, self-forgiveness, and more. She takes the burden of forgiveness off those who have been wronged and offers guidance both to those deciding whether and how to forgive and those seeking forgiveness. By showing us how to do forgiveness better, Failures of Forgiveness promises to transform how we deal with wrongdoing in our lives, opening a new path to true healing and reconciliation.
About the Author
Myisha Cherry is associate professor of philosophy at the University of California, Riverside, where she also directs the Emotion and Society Lab. She is the author of The Case for Rage: Why Anger Is Essential to Anti-Racist Struggle and UnMuted: Conversations on Prejudice, Oppression, and Social Justice, which draws on her popular podcast UnMute. She has been widely featured in the media, including the Los Angeles Times, The New Yorker, the Atlantic, BET, and the podcast Pod Save the People