By Fania Davis & Sarah van Gelder
Can we recover from the legacy of slavery, lynching, land theft, disenfranchisement, redlining, job discrimination, and mass imprisonment? We turned to Archbishop Desmond Tutu and his daughter the Rev. Mpho Tutu for wisdom on this question. Desmond Tutu led the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, formed in 1995. Many people anticipated violence and a breakdown of society as decades of apartheid ended. Instead, the country transitioned relatively peacefully to a multiracial democracy, in part because of the truth and reconciliation process.
Enabling the spirit of forgiveness was Ubuntu, an ancient southern African belief. Ubuntu holds that individuals exist only in relationship with other living beings: I am because we are. It is our responsibility as relatives to take care of one another.
Might truth and reconciliation, informed by the ideals of Ubuntu, play a role in the United States? Is it time—as Fania Davis proposed in an article for yesmagazine.org—for truth and reconciliation processes to examine and attempt to heal the police violence aimed at black people?
Archbishop Tutu, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, claims to be retired at age 83, although he continues to be sought out for his wisdom and counsel. The Rev. Tutu, is an Episcopal priest, the executive director of the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation, and coauthor with her father of The Book of Forgiveness.