Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of The Beautiful Struggle and Between the World and Me.
From his interview with Fresh Air's Terry Gross:
GROSS: I want to get back to the shootings at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C. A lot of people from that church placed an emphasis on the power of forgiveness. And you write, I've always felt great - and this is in relation to another shooting - you write, I've always felt great distance from the grieving rituals of my people. And I'm wondering what you meant by that and how it applies, if at all, to what you felt watching people grieve in Charleston.--Marshal Zeringue
COATES: I mean, it applies to this, you know. I don't understand the forgiveness aspect of this. I just don't. I understand the politics of it. Like I understand that created room for people to take down the Confederate flag. I have that. I understand not living with hatred. I understand how that can be corrupting. I got that.
I don't understand how you gun down my wife, my mother, my father, my child and when I see you three days later, I say that I forgive you. I don't understand that. You know, that doesn't make it right or wrong, but it's just not something that - and forgiveness is a big part of - especially post-civil rights movement - is a big part of African-American Christianity. And, you know, I wasn't raised within the Christian church. I wasn't raised within any church. Forgiveness is a huge, huge part of it coming out of the civil rights movement.
I just - I can't access that at all, you know? It doesn't mean that, you know, I necessarily - well, I probably would have some degree of hate, you know, if it were my relative. But I don't - I don't quite get it, you know? It doesn't - I can imagine feeling...[read on or listen to the interview]