Myisha Cherry talks with Publisher’s Weekly about her new book, Failures of Forgiveness.

July 10, 2023

Philosopher Myisha Cherry talked about our need to rethink the meaning and purpose of absolution in in last week’s interview with Publisher’s Weekly, detailing her view that the ways we think about and use forgiveness – personally and as a society – can often do more harm than good.

Myisha, associate professor of philosophy at the University of California, Riverside, 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 to her unforgivable. At the court hearing for the 2015 shooting at the Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston,” Myisha explained,” there were a lot of utterances about forgiveness. Something about that praise bothered me, was confusing to me, primarily because there was something about it that obscured a sense of justice—as if forgiveness could heal the type of racial animosity happening in that town.”

In every way a direct response to this current moment, Failures of Forgiveness argues that thinking of forgiveness in this way is, in fact, just “one way to repair our world, but it’s not the only way. It’s okay to forgive, but it’s also okay not to forgive. If you want to forgive,” she emphasizes, “it’s going to be difficult work.”

“It all depends on who we’re forgiving, she continues. “I think that certain things need to be in place before we ask certain members of a group to forgive members of another group.”

Last weeks’ coverage in Publisher’s Weekly follows similar attention for Myisha’s 2021’s The Case for Rage, in which she makes the related, reasoned case for anger at racial injustice. Upon it’s release, The Case for Rage was featured in The New Yorker and The Atlantic; received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly; and was hailed as “a well-reasoned case for not holding one’s tongue in the presence of injustice” by Kirkus Reviews.

Due this September from Princeton University Press, Failures of Forgiveness is already accumulating similar accolades. In addition to the interview and a second starred review from Publisher’s Weekly, non other than Eddie Glaude, Jr, celebrates the Myisha’s latest as “an important book for our difficult days.”

It’s definitely one not to miss.

For more about Myisha’s work, including her role as the Director of the Emotion and Society Lab, visit her website. You can also find her at Twitter.

Myisha Cherry

Myisha Cherry is an associate professor of philosophy at the University of California, Riverside. Her research interest lies at the intersection of moral psychology and social and political philosophy. More specifically she is interested in the role of emotions and attitudes in public life.

Cherry’s books include  ‘The Moral Psychology of Anger‘ co-edited with Owen Flanagan, “Unmuted: Conversations on Prejudice, Oppression, and Social Justice and The Case for Rage: Why Anger is Essential to Anti-Racist Struggle, which makes a case for anger at racial injustice. It was recently featured in the New Yorker and The Atlantic and has received a starred review from Publishers’ Weekly. After a 10-way auction, Princeton University Press won North American rights to her most recent book, The Failures of Forgiveness. Cherry has also written about emotions and race in such journals as HypatiaRadical Philosophy Review, and Critical Philosophy of Race. 

In addition to her academic work, she has written publicly about political emotions, race, and justice for the Los Angeles Times, The Atlantic, Salon, The Boston Review, New Philosopher, WomanKind, and the Huffington Post. She has contributed essays to three volumes of Open Court’s Philosophy and Pop Culture Series, exploring themes such as manipulation, white privilege, and community and police relations. Cherry is also the host of the UnMute Podcast, a podcast where she interviews philosophers about the social and political issues of our day.

Five Things I've Learned About

The Social Uses of Anger

Join writer, author, and professor Myisha Cherry and discover the Five Things She’s Learned about the essential roles that rage and anger play in public life – and in our principled responses to all forms of social injustice.

Presented in partnership with Project Word

Myisha Cherry

Five Things I've Learned About

The Social Uses of Anger

Join writer, author, and professor Myisha Cherry and discover the Five Things She’s Learned about the essential roles that rage and anger play in public life – and in our principled responses to all forms of social injustice.

in conversation with Nicholas Buccola

Presented in partnership with Project Word

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