Forgiveness is for All

By Todd A. Smith

          The racist rant heard around the world from critically-acclaimed actor Mel Gibson has been the talk of Black America in recent weeks.  Everyone from barbers to entertainers like Whoopi Goldberg have weighed in on Gibson’s latest racial tirade in which he told his ex-girlfriend that she was going to “be raped by a pack of n******.”

            Many have said that it is Gibson’s problems with alcohol that has caused him to act out of character with his offensive statements about Jews and African Americans.  Others believe that alcohol does not make you say things you do not believe, but gives you the courage to say controversial things that you would not have if sober.

            Nevertheless, Gibson’s anger issues and racist beliefs are not egregious enough that he is beyond forgiveness like many critics have suggested.

            Although he is also been accused of domestic assault on his ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva, many who argued that perpetrators like Chris Brown deserve forgiveness, also say Gibson does not deserve the benefit of the doubt.

            Unlike Gibson’s pal Goldberg, I firmly believe his most recent racist rant proves the Lethal Weapon star is a bigot.  However, I also believe that forgiveness is not reserved for those who we agree with or like, but to all who truly want to learn and grow from their mistakes.

            Unfortunately, racism does not infect just one race of people like many want to believe.  In actuality, we all have prejudices of other people and have either uttered racist rants or witnessed one of our peers spill hate without correcting or chastising them for their ignorance.

            No matter how open-minded or progressive one person or group claims to be, we have all stereotyped another group of people and verbally offended them.  The only difference between us and Gibson is that his racist rant was caught on tape and he is in the public eye, which makes people care when they ordinarily would not.

            Just like Brown, I urged Regal Magazine readers to allow the pop star to grow from his mistakes.  Understandably, while many will never support his career, it is important that we not let a few bad incidents ruin a person’s life by not allowing them to grow from their mistakes.  And I would encourage all people to forgive Gibson if he truly learns from his past aberrant behavior.

            Imagine if your boss or customers were able to secretly record private conversations with your friends and family and discovered some character traits that were not so attractive.  If they fired you or refused to support your business because of something offensive you said in the privacy of your own home, would you not want forgiveness and the chance to grow from your mistakes?

            If so, why subject celebrities to a different set of rules than what we have to abide by?  I know that if you place yourself in the limelight you open yourself to stricter scrutiny but that does not give us the right to be so quick to judge.

            Although I find Gibson’s racist rant to be indefensible and intolerable, I am also wise enough to know that life is about growth.  No one is perfect, but if one truly strives to perfect their mistakes and become a positive example to those who admire them, we should not stunt that person’s growth but encourage and celebrate it.

Smith is publisher of Regal Black Men’s Magazine.

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