I’ve been urging you to practice forgiveness. I asked that you forgive white society for their transgressions against us and I asked that you forgive yourself for getting caught up in the negativity that they have heaped upon us and turning it in on yourself.

But this begs the question, just what is forgiveness?
Forgiveness is your gift to you. Forgiveness is a way to release the burdens of anger and pain that usually come as part of your justified reactions to the injustices that white society either consciously or unconsciously perpetrates against us. These injustices are inflicted in any number of acts ranging from discrimination, racial profiling by police, excessive sentences of imprisonment, lynching, Jim Crow laws, denial of personhood, isolation, ridicule and many other ways they disrespect us. So, while the anger and pain and resentment may be justified, the sad truth is that they only injure us with their poison -- not the ones who caused it.

So, does forgiving these acts against us mean that we are making it OK for them to do that. Definitely not! When you forgive, you’re just spitting out the poison.
When you choose to forgive, you choose to live in the present and the future instead of in the past. Forgiving does not mean to forget. It means to release and go on. And when I say, release and go on, I mean release and go on with your life preferably as far away from the offensive behavior as you can.

Forgiving doesn't always mean resuming a relationship with whoever has dissed you. According to Fred Luskin, Ph.D., author of Forgive for Good, "If a person or group won't meet you halfway or has been abusive, it may be better to forgive simply to make your own life less stressful, but continue to keep your distance." That way, you not only protect yourself but you increase the value of the benefits you will reap – renewed energy, clearer focus, greater self-love. Of course, keeping your distance isn’t always possible. You can, however, decide to rise above and realize that your love and respect for yourself will elevate you to the point where you will either be removed from the situation or the other person(s) will be taken out of your environment.

Try Dr. Luskin's tips below for dealing with such offensive behavior directed at you:
1. Get the frustration out in the open – share your story with a few close friends. This will help you explore your feelings about the situation and get a clearer sense of perspective.
2. Focus on what’s in it for you to forgive - it's not always about who or what was right. Remind yourself that forgiving can free you to move on with your life. Tell yourself that the point is to reduce angst. After all, living well is the best revenge.
3. Breathe in calm - instead of tensing up or starting in on your inner rant, inhale and exhale deeply or relax in whatever way appeals to you.
4. Turn the details of your story around - victims don't have control of their lives; heroes do. So make yourself the hero of your own saga. Think of it this way; Although someone else may have caused your misery, whether you stay miserable is entirely up to you.

Remember, we have moved into a new millennium. This is the 21st century not two hundred years ago. You have the power to overcome. You have the power to rise to your highest self as long as you don’t allow ignorant people to hook you and pull you down. Now is the time for us to claim our power and emerge as the awesome creative people that we are. This is the time to realize the vision of Martin Luther King, Jr. when he said, “I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promised land!”

Author's Bio: 

Rev. Andrew L. Bozeman is an ordained minister working to bring mental and spiritual empowerment to people-of-color around the world. He is currently focused on the total revitalization of Bayview Hunters Point, a multi-racial, multi-cultural population in the Southeaster corner of San Francisco, California. He founded Bozeman Development Group (www.bozemandevelopment.com) as a way to continue his ministry in the merging of spiritual empowerment and economic development. Bozeman Development Group is an African American publishing and production company dedicated to the spiritual, psychological and economic elevation of the more than 40 million African Americans living in the United States of America. This objective will be accomplished by creating and marketing products designed to support African Americans in eliminating the negative effects of racism, elevating self-esteem, generating entrepreneurial endeavors, building and promoting African American commercial centers, rebuilding African American communities, revitalizing the African American economy and improving their quality of life. The products of the Bozeman Development Group consist of books (printed and electronic), magazines (printed and electronic), live seminars, workshops, expositions and entertainment events, online blogs, video tutorials, inspirational, informative and uplifting films and videos, internet radio and TV programming.