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CNN's Sellers: 'Infuriates Me' to See Brandt Jean, Judge Hug Amber Guyger

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Cross posted to the MRC's NewsBusters blog

On Friday's New Day show, liberal CNN contributor Bakari Sellers was in a bad mood over the sight of Brandt Jean speaking of forgiveness and hugging Amber Guyger, the woman convicted of killing his brother, Botham, after she entered his apartment and shot him, thinking she was in her own apartment.

Sellers declared that it "infuriates me" and "drives me crazy" as he claimed that forgiveness by blacks toward whites has not been "reciprocated."

He also complained about Judge Tammy Kemp hugging Guyger as the liberal commentator complained that, even though the judge is black, she is "part of an oppressive system."

Co-host John Berman brought up the hug and Brandt's speech of forgiveness, which were discussed on the show yesterday. After showing a clip of the hug, Berman turned to Sellers and posed: "A lot of people, when they saw this really emotional, dramatic moment of forgiveness, I think that was a first reaction among some, Bakari. But when you saw it, there were more reactions than just that. Please explain."

After noting that he has respect for Brandt Jean for his attempt to get through his grief, he then complained:

But when you take a step back, the imagery that's seen not only just at that moment but also the judge hugging Ms. Guyger later, it infuriates me -- it drives me crazy because what you see is a place and a posture in which African-Americans -- black folk always are having to show forgiveness when that is not reciprocated.

He added:

Someone once asked me about reconciliation, and they said, "When can we get to a place where white people in this country say, 'I'm sorry,' and black people say, 'We forgive you'?" the problem is that black folk have always said -- we always get to a point of forgiveness way before the point of "I'm sorry."

Since Gugyer did express regrets about killing Botham Jean, who was a completely innocent victim, it is unclear how Sellers's suggestion that whites do not ask for forgiveness from blacks applies here.

After noting some of Guyger's mistakes and irresponsible actions, Sellers added:

This isn't about forgiveness -- this isn't a scene about grace. This is another black man dead at the hands of someone who did not give them the benefit of their humanity. And for me, I'm just sick and tired of being sick and tired, to quote Fannie Lou Hamer.

After Van Jones took a more optimistic view of the hug as a sign that blacks and whites want to get along, Sellers was given another chance to speak:

This isn't about an interracial hug. This is about a young man who will not be able to raise a family -- will not be able to walk down the aisle -- will not be able to enjoy the fruits of his labor -- will not be able to live because someone took away his life because they did not believe in his dignity.

He complained about the judge again as he added:

And the last thing about this grace is -- and I saw a judge -- now, I know people are going to say she's black -- well, she's part of an oppressive system -- come down and hug someone who is a murderer. I've been in courts over a thousand times -- I've probably done nearly a thousand pleas -- I've never seen a judge hug a client or defendant or a murderer.

Sellers concluded:

The problem is this grace is never reciprocated. And, as a black man in America, the most frustrating thing is that I have to be in a perpetual state of rage. And that is a very difficult burden to bear. And I'm tired of giving grace and forgiveness that is apparently a one-way street.

Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Friday, October 4, New Day on CNN:

JOHN BERMAN: A lot of people, when they saw this really emotional, dramatic moment of forgiveness, I think that was a first reaction among some, Bakari. But when you saw it, there were more reactions than just that. Please explain.

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I respect Botham Jean's brother for taking whatever action necessary to help him with the grieving process, but when you take a step back, the imagery that's seen not only just at that moment but also the judge hugging Ms. Guyger later, it infuriates me -- it drives me crazy because what you see is a place and a posture in which African-Americans -- black folk always are having to show forgiveness when that is not reciprocated.

Someone once asked me about reconciliation, and they said, "When can we get to a place where white people in this country say, 'I'm sorry,' and black people say, 'We forgive you'?" the problem is that black folk have always said -- we always get to a point of forgiveness way before the point of "I'm sorry."

And I just wish Amber Guyger -- before she had to murder someone in their own home while sexting, refusing the give the CPR, decided to have some compassion, and now we have to be in a position of forgiveness. This isn't about forgiveness -- this isn't a scene about grace. This is another black man dead at the hands of someone who did not give them the benefit of their humanity. And for me, I'm just sick and tired of being sick and tired, to quote Fannie Lou Hamer.

(...)

This isn't about an interracial hug. This is about a young man who will not be able to raise a family -- will not be able to walk down the aisle -- will not be able to enjoy the fruits of his labor -- will not be able to live because someone took away his life because they did not believe in his dignity.

And the last thing about this grace is -- and I saw a judge -- now, I know people are going to say she's black -- well, she's part of an oppressive system -- come down and hug someone who is a murderer. I've been in courts over a thousand times -- I've probably done nearly a thousand pleas -- I've never seen a judge hug a client or defendant or a murderer.

The problem is this grace is never reciprocated. And, as a black man in America, the most frustrating thing is that I have to be in a perpetual state of rage. And that is a very difficult burden to bear. And I'm tired of giving grace and forgiveness that is apparently a one-way street.

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