Black TikTok star Savannah Edwards concisely dismantled the concept of paying reparations to black Americans in a video posted on the social media platform last week.
Edwards, who goes by @thisissavvy on TikTok, began the video by noting she has been hearing “a lot of talk about reparations” lately on social media and even heard a pastor in Tulsa, Oklahoma, declare, “We cannot have true reconciliation and healing without reparations.”
“I don’t agree with that,” Edwards said before rattling off several factors that would complicate the equitable distribution of payments to ancestors of slaves.
“It’s 2021, how are we to determine who gets reparations and who doesn’t?” she asked. “Again, it’s 2021, not every black person is the descendant of a slave and not every descendant of a slave is black, and not every person who was a slave was black.”
Democratic politicians and media figures across the country have renewed calls for reparations amid the ongoing national conversation regarding racial justice. California — a state that never allowed slavery — has even formed a task force to study the issue as a way to atone for past sins.
But according to Edwards, reparations will never heal the nation or any of its citizens, because only forgiveness can do that.
“The first step to healing is forgiveness,” suggested Edwards, who is a Christian. “And if the first thing that comes out of your mouth is, ‘Well they don’t deserve forgiveness’ … Sit down, let me learn you a thing or two.”
“Time heals all wounds,” she went on to say. “But if you have a wound that hasn’t healed, it’s probably because you’re still picking at it. If you fill your heart with bitterness, there’s no room for joy [and] there’s no room for peace.”
“Holding onto bitterness is bondage and many of y’all have chained yourself to the dead. Even worse, some of y’all have passed that bitterness down to your children,” she continued.
“Forgiveness isn’t for that other person; it’s for you,” Edwards explained. “It’s to set you free.”
The video has been viewed nearly 100,000 times on TikTok, but not everyone who watched came away with a positive impression.
One commenter asked Edwards, “Why should I forgive them for the way they looked down and continued to look down on my people?”
The comment prompted Edwards to post a follow-up video, in which she explained that “you can’t control what other people do; you can only control your response.”
She then reiterated the central claim of the previous video: “Forgiveness does not excuse people’s behavior, forgiveness does not erase the past, forgiveness sets you free. Forgiveness releases you from bitterness.”