Myisha Cherry at Harvard Book Store
Failures of Forgiveness:
What We Get Wrong and How to Do Better
in conversation with BRANDON M. TERRY
September 19, 2023
7:00 PM ET
Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138
This event is free; no tickets are required.
Harvard Book Store welcomes MYISHA CHERRY—assistant professor of philosophy at the University of California—for a discussion of her new book Failures of Forgiveness: What We Get Wrong and How to Do Better. She will be joined in conversation by John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard University, BRANDON M. TERRY.
About Failures of Forgiveness
Sages from Cicero to Oprah have told us that forgiveness requires us to let go of negative emotions and that it has a unique power to heal our wounds. In Failures of Forgiveness, Myisha Cherry argues that these beliefs couldn’t be more wrong—and that the ways we think about and use forgiveness, personally and as a society, can often do more harm than good. She presents a new and healthier understanding of forgiveness—one that will give us a better chance to recover from wrongdoing and move toward “radical repair.”
Cherry began exploring forgiveness after some relatives of the victims of the mass shooting at Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina, forgave what seemed unforgiveable. She was troubled that many observers appeared to be more inspired by these acts of forgiveness than they were motivated to confront the racial hatred that led to the killings. That is a big mistake, Cherry argues. Forgiveness isn’t magic. We can forgive and still be angry, there can be good reasons not to forgive, and forgiving a wrong without tackling its roots solves nothing. Examining how forgiveness can go wrong in families, between friends, at work, and in the media, politics, and beyond, Cherry addresses forgiveness and race, canceling versus forgiving, self-forgiveness, and more. She takes the burden of forgiveness off those who have been wronged and offers guidance both to those deciding whether and how to forgive and those seeking forgiveness.
By showing us how to do forgiveness better, Failures of Forgiveness promises to transform how we deal with wrongdoing in our lives, opening a new path to true healing and reconciliation.
Praise for Failures of Forgiveness
“In a world full of moral clichés, forgiveness is a candidate for king. We dole forgiveness out, sometimes because we believe it’s the catalyst for healing, and other times because we assume bad things will happen if we don’t forgive. Myisha Cherry explodes these ideas and brilliantly explores how we should change our thinking about forgiveness, so that we can better understand its power, and our relationship not just to forgiveness, but to ourselves.” —Jason Reynolds, #1 New York Times bestselling coauthor of Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You
“We live in times that seem to demand the act of forgiveness. But Myisha Cherry insists that we understand forgiveness in all of its complexity and that we acknowledge its limits. It is not enough to ask for forgiveness; it is not enough to extend it to others, either. We have to do so much more if radical repair is to happen. Failures of Forgiveness offers the reader a way to do just that. Such an important book for our difficult days.” —Eddie S. Glaude Jr., New York Times bestselling author of Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own
“Like conjurers whispering spells, we speak ‘forgiveness’ to magically absolve us of wrongs, seeking the easy road of escape rather than the hard work of repair. In Failures of Forgiveness, Myisha Cherry offers a way of seeing forgiveness not as a magical act of transformation but as an ethical journey of discovery and healing. This is essential reading for our unsettled and unsettling times.” —Melvin Rogers, author of The Darkened Light of Faith: Race, Democracy, and Freedom in African American Political Thought
Masks are encouraged but not required for this event.
Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes
As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.
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