Botham Jean's brother asked to hug Amber Guyger after her sentencing

Amber Guyger's trial was an incredibly divisive moment in our culture. A police officer who shot and killed a black man after accidentally entering his home is a recipe for culture war across social media. And sure enough, millions of Americans found themselves unable to look away from her trial and eventual sentencing of 10 years.

First, there was the controversy over whether or not Guyger should be found guilty. Then, many people were split over whether the sentence of 10 years was just.


It was a moment of intellectual honesty running into feelings of rage, sadness and hopelessness and those who advocate for social justice and leniency rooted for someone to put away in prison for as long as possible. The lives of those already lost and those on the line were pawns in a political chess match across the spectrum.

And then the brother of Botham Jean reminded us all that these are human beings. As Guyger was sentenced, Brandt asked the judge if he could hug Guyger. He approached her in the courtroom where he offered his forgiveness and the two embraced. It's a photograph that will be impossible to forget for almost anyone who sees it:





Of course, the moment also spurred a negative reaction from some who say the narrative of expected forgiveness is one too often thrust upon black Americans:


Others argued that mercy is a sign of strength, not systemic racism or individual weakness:


What do you think? Was Brandt's gesture an opportunity for healing and compassion in the face of tragedy? Or, was it little more than an honest display from a grieving man that will be manipulated by those who opposed Guyger's conviction?

Culture
Courtesy of First Book

We take the ability to curl up with a good story for granted. Unfortunately, not everyone has access to books. For the 32 million American children growing up in low-income families, books are rare. In one low-income neighborhood in Washington, D.C., there is approximately one book for every 800 children. But children need books in their lives in order to do well in school and in life. Half of students from low-income backgrounds start first grade up to two years behind other students. If a child is a poor reader at the end of first grade, there's a 90% chance they're going to be a poor reader at the end of fourth grade.

In order to help close the literacy gap, First Book launched Give a Million, a Giving Tuesday campaign to put one million new, high-quality books in the hands of children. Since 1992, the nonprofit has distributed over 185 million books and educational resources, a value of more than $1.5 billion. Many educators lack the basic educational necessities in their classrooms, and First Book helps provide these basic needs items.

Keep Reading Show less
First Book
True
first-book

I was 10 when my uncle Doug took his own life. I remember my mom getting the phone call and watching her slump down the kitchen wall, hand over her mouth. I remember her having to tell my dad to come home from work so she could tell him that his beloved baby brother had hung himself.

Doug had lived with us for a while. He was kind, gentle, and funny. He was only 24 when he died.

My uncle was so young—too young—but not as young as some who end their lives. Youth suicide in the U.S. is on the rise, and the numbers—and ages—are staggering.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Pavel Verbovski

Forrest doesn't mind admitting he needed a second chance. The 49-year-old had, at one point, been a member of the Army; he'd been married and had a support network. But he'd also run into a multitude of health and legal problems. He'd been incarcerated. And once he was released, he didn't know where he would go or what he would do. He'd never felt so alone.

But then, some hope. While working with Seattle's VA to obtain a place to live and a job, Forrest heard about Mercy Magnuson Place, a new development from Mercy Housing Northwest that would offer affordable homes to individuals and families who, like Forrest, needed help in the city's grueling rental market.

Forrest remembers not wanting to even go see the building because he didn't want to get his hopes up, but a counselor persuaded him. And when he learned that the development was a repurposed former military barracks — now a historic landmark — he knew he'd feel right at home.

Today, Forrest couldn't be happier. "I've got a 10-foot-high ceiling," he says. "I've got 7-foot windows. I look out onto a garden." His studio apartment, he says, has more space than he knows what to do with. For someone who's spent chunks of his life not having a place to call his own, the three closets that Forrest's apartment boasts are a grand luxury.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
True
Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

Having a baby is like entering a fight club. The first rule of having a kid is don't talk about having a kid. New moms end up with weird marks on their bodies, but they don't talk about how they got there or why. They just smile as they tell other women motherhood is such a joy.

There are so many other things we don't talk about when it comes to pregnancy. Hearing about the veritable war zone your body turns into is enough to snap anyone out of the highest of baby fevers, which is why so many women probably keep the truth to themselves. But it's important to talk about the changes because it normalizes them. Here are some of the ways your body changes that your health textbook isn't going to cover.

Keep Reading Show less
popular