We are in a new century, but are you?


Maxine Pierre-Louis , Literary Journalist

Tom Robinson, a black man in To Kill a Mockingbird has a story that is the basis of the entire book and causes controversy because of his skin color. His trial is one to remember because of the heavy amounts of racism that played out. With many chances given to change their actions and be forgiven for their acts of racism, they continue to do it. Which brings me to speak on should racism be forgiven and when? Under the conditions that a person’s wrong was recognized and their actions show a change, racism can be forgiven but never excused.

Mayella Ewell is an example of racism that shouldn’t be excused. To Kill A Mockingbird, it states,” In our courts when it’s a white man’s word against a black man’s, the white man always wins. They’re ugly, but those are the facts of life.” This shows why Mayella’s act of racism shouldn’t be excused because either way with the mentality of whites being superior, Tom didn’t have the smallest chance of winning. In addition, “On September 23, the all-white jury deliberated for less than an hour before issuing a verdict of ‘not guilty’, explaining that they believed the state had failed to prove the identity of the body.” This explains why Mayella’s acts of racism shouldn’t be excused because the jury in To Kill A Mockingbird was also all white, a more than enough evidence was provided to keep Tom’s freedom. Therefore Mayella Ewell is an example of someone who shouldn’t be forgiven.

One of the main characters Scout is an example of racism that can be forgiven but not excused. For example, Scout beat up Walter Cunningham because he was involved with the kids calling Atticus a “nigger lover” she thought that there was something wrong with that because of Maycomb. This shows racism that can be excused because that is what Scout grew up around many people thinking that this is wrong but she can still learn from it because of her young age. Moreover, Scout Acknowledged the fact if Tom didn’t get a public hearing that it would be straight out wrong. Scout can be forgiven not excused because she changed her actions towards people of color and earlier in the books Atticus let her know of her wrongs.

Some people might choose to say that people know exactly what they are doing when they are being racist, and they shouldn’t be excused or forgiven.  But in actuality, there are times where they can be excused when they shouldn’t be forgiven but never excused.  One example is Cecil Jacobs, talking about Atticus trying to tease Scout saying Atticus is a “nigger-lover”. This shows why people can’t be forgiven under certain circumstances because Cecil said it knowing the effect that the statement can have on other people the meaning of it. In addition the article “Explaining Mob Mentality” states, “When people are a part of a group, they often experience deindividuation or a loss of self-awareness.”  This shows why people can be forgiven under certain circumstances because if the person themselves is different than how they acted in the mob they may actually have different feelings about something like Walter’s father how he acted in a mob.

In conclusion, this essay has proven that under the conditions that a person’s wrong was recognized as their actions show a change that racism can be forgiven but never excused. Even though times have changed people haven’t changed the way they choose to live. We can’t continue to make excuses for people. What we can do is acknowledge a person’s wrong and teach them right.