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AJC DBF Keynote Speaker Roxane Gay Pens Buzz-Generating Times Op-Ed

Roxane Gay

Six days after nine African-Americans were gunned down in Charleston’s historic Emanuel A.M.E. Church, AJC Decatur Book Festival keynote speaker Roxane Gay wrote about why she could not forgive the alleged shooter in the op-ed pages of The New York Times. Gay cited the fact that several loved ones of those killed in the shooting said they forgave Dylann Roof, who has been charged in the murders. Gay offered up the notion that people forgive differently for various reasons and that she respects the loved ones for their words.

However, she said that she herself is done forgiving.

“My unwillingness to forgive this man does not give him any kind of power,” she wrote. “I am not filled with hate for this man because he is beneath my contempt… My lack of forgiveness serves as a reminder that there are some acts that are so terrible that we should recognize them as such. We should recognize them as beyond forgiving.”

As a result of the column, Gay was a guest on National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition” on June 26. She discussed the op-ed and further fleshed out the idea of forgiveness and why in this case, for people who are not directly connected to the incident, forgiveness is not an option.

Gay will interview fellow feminist icon Erica Jong at this year’s AJC DBF. They will kick off the 10-year mile marker of the event at the Schwartz Performing Arts Center at Emory University on Friday, Sept. 4, at 8 p.m.