Letters & Opinion

The Hug That Rocked The World

By Dr Velon L. John

WITH a spiritual act of courage and in his magnificent humility, Brandt Jean conferred upon himself and his deceased brother, Botham Jean immortality in the circumstance of humanity. All of this is circumscribed by these words:

“If you truly are sorry, I know I can speak for myself, I forgive you. I love you as a person… I know that if you go to God and ask Him, He will forgive you. I don’t know if this is possible but, can I give her a hug please? Please?”

The question was posed to the Judge and she responded in the affirmative. And from his seat in the witness box Brandt Jean walked towards the killer/murderer of his twenty 26-year-old brother Botham Jean. It was a short walk and she stumblingly met him half way.

It must have been the hardest walk in his life and at the same time, because of who and what he was, it was the easiest. It reminded me of this young man who walked 200 yards to his cross of death two thousand plus years ago; and for Him it was the easiest and most joyful experience in his rather short life. He was 33 years old. The two events that traversed the silent legions of miles and years shared a numinous commonality, in that Love and Forgiveness were the sublime and celestial provenance of it all.

He the Black man in his humble magnificence walked towards the White woman, the killer of his brother. She who wanted only to destroy the dreams, the aspirations, the hopes and the domestic life of this Lucian family was embraced. He hugged her and she sobbingly hugged him.

It is an event the world will never forget. And from this day forward, in churches, synagogues, mosques and temples where the virtues of Love and Forgiveness are being taught, discussed and pontificated upon, Brandt Jean shall be the reference point to the faithful and even the heathen.

And to those who want to disparage the words and actions of this young man, it is their conscious and unconscious hypocrisy that is being given utterance on whatever the level. And further their perverse expression is a grotesque manifestation of their dubious concern for the Jean family.

As regards Amber Guyger, I am of the opinion that she was racist like so many of her associates. But Guyger did not leave her place of work to head to her home and to kill a Black man. But a Black man died; he died, was shot, was murdered because of a concatenation of negative attitudinal events and bad luck that can only be surmised. If Botham was white very likely he would not have been shot; but Guyger’s mindset of a traditional and historical cast predisposed her to pull the trigger of her gun. And which she did.

The woman who was convicted for the murder of Botham Jean was indeed guilty of murder. And her punishment as I see it should have been thirty years of incarceration. But that was not to be. Interestingly if she had gotten thirty years, Brandt’s hug and his declaration of love would have lost some of its import… its significance. Ten years enhanced augmented and sublimated to the spiritual this disposition of Love and Forgiveness.

From my study of human nature on certain levels I have come to the conclusion that Amber Guyger up to the time she made that walk to Brandt Jean was the Amber Guyger her family and friends knew. But the Amber Guyger who walked the 48-feet towards Brandt Jean… that held him, that embraced him that hugged him was a different Amber Guyger. Along that stretch of floor something happened. She went through a catharsis that occasioned a characterological metamorphosis on a very profound level. She was reborn. And many who witnessed this phenomenon were themselves changed in varying degrees.

Forgiveness changes both the forgiver and the forgiven. Love changes both the lover and the loved.

Love and Forgiveness. They are both one and the same though paradoxically the former is the genesis of the latter.

The Brothers: In death and in life they have both justified each other’s existence and the world is a better place because of them.

As I end this piece I leave with you this thought with its aetiological implications and which of course is a product of my philosophical ruminations.

The absolute and quintessential manifestation of love is to forgive the unrepentant.


  1. This is a silly piece of verbiage from a mind drunk on religion and devoid of intellectual vigour, never mind the big words that obfuscate and bedazzle. Brandt Jean may have been pure in his intentions but clearly got carried away with all the fervent hugging and his statement that he wished that she did not have to go to jail. Such a statement makes a morkery of justice. Justice for Botham and the legions of black men whose lives were snatched away from them simply because they were black. These are men who were unarmed, who posed no danger to anyone. Even the judge, following Brandt’s fervent embrace of his brother’s murderer got carried away and and could be seen speaking solicitously to Amber Guyger and embracing her.And if that was not enough Brandt’s father declared that he would like to befriend the murderer. They did not even think of using the fact that the eyes of the world was upon them to call for an end to the to the police killing of unarmed black men. What a wasted opportunity!!!. The writer invoked the image of Chrust’s crucifixion to boost his silly argument. I shall invoke another image of Christ beating the crap out of the money changers who dared to desecrate the temple. It is okay for Brandt to forgive Amber but what went on with that fervent never ending embrace of Amber, that talk of not wanting her to go to jail, the embrace of Amber by the judge, the public offer of friendship to the murderer by Bertram Jean, all of this has a lot of corpses turning in their graves and handed impunity to racist murderous cops on a silver platter. Meanwhile the slaughter of unarmed black men continues.

  2. This writer is presumptuous with all foolishness about how this hug has changed society for the better. Beneath all these big words is an emptiness. Dr John you are naive to imagine that that hug changes anything for the good. In the meantime a black Texan woman has been killed in her bedroom by the police, barely two weeks after the Botham Jean murder verdict and Brandt Jean’s public declaration of his love for his brother’s murderer and his wish that she should not be given jail time which so injures the cause of justice. Atatiana Jefferson, 28, had been staying at the Fort Worth residence with her eight-year-old nephew. You see Dr John nothing has changed. You can continue to encourage our people to make a public spectacle of christian forgiveness, they can hug and kiss the murderers of their brothers and sing kumbaya and continue to become the sacrificial lambs of their own folly. What a shame!!!

  3. Dr. Velon L. John’s article is an example of what happens when black people are educated beyond common sense and out of a particular experience. It is an example of what the colonizers and oppressors of our people hoped for when they designed a particular style of education. They sought to instill a colonial mentality that would have us genuflecting before those meaning us harm. They taught a form of religion that would have us hugging, embracing, and forgiving the very ones seeking to destroy us. That kind of Christianity is one which gave Africans the Bible even as the white man stole their land. In other words, Dr. Velon L. John is a miseducated Black man.

    With due respect to the Botham family, I felt and continue to feel that their courtroom hugging spectacle was an embarrassment to every self respecting black person.
    Thankfully the family of the young lady who was just murdered in her home by Texas cops have already made it known that there will be NO HUGS this time around.

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