top of page

Manslaughter Privilege, a Poem by Ellen Huang

Updated: Feb 9, 2022

How quick we are to pity murderers.

Not because we see ourselves in them, I don't think

but because of course a white woman's perceived safety

matters more than the life of the black

human in his own home.

Beautiful, you say. You exclaim, you advertise.

How quick we are to jump at forgiveness stories

How quick we are to meet the brutal

with a sparkling golden paintbrush.

I cannot deny the beauty of undeserved grace

I cannot deny that I trace my own faith and being

back to a bloody crucifixion and shower of grace.

Yet I am sickened.

How quick we are to paint keening, lamenting mothers

righteous anger-filled sisters

human, human bodies

as dramatic once you get that relief of grace.

How quick we are to paint murderers and manslaughterers

as nice normal people with bubbly personalities

who now suffer that they're depressed

while families for generations suffer



innocent life


for no reason.

A bright light of a being, a human in his own home.

Never mind his nice, normal personality.

His death was just

an honest mistake.

How strange, we think his brother's

Christlikeness in forgiveness

means no one else is allowed to be angry.

Perhaps different people

can embody Christ's body

of grace & mercies


Yet still righteously.

Grace tokenized

because we cannot bear to empathize

with the pain




And while I wrestle with knowing

my potential for evil

my nonchalance for overwhelming

compassion fatigue,

eating food with blood on my hands

for not knowing the systems that feed me,

myself in sin gone unchecked—

while I know hatred is murder in itself,

as my savior of color once said;

while I know I would be devastated without measure

in her place, wondering how the hell did I get here,

what has my anger brought me to?

while I know grace is undeniably

ridiculous & miraculous & beautiful—

I still wrestle and wonder with the temptation in me

that immediately assumes I can forgive

what only God can forgive.

There are two instincts in me now,

one that cries for justice, with clarity

that all these underaged, bullet-ridden ghosts exist.

The other, ingrained and far deeper stifled,

that split-second considers how easy it is

to give another life, give another chance.

A refund on this trauma. Whites get many lives.

How quick we are to pity the murderer.


Ellen Huang holds a BA in Writing + Theatre minor from Point Loma Nazarene University. Her work has appeared in Diverging Magazine, Amethyst Review, The Oikonomist, Wax Poetry & Art Magazine, They Call Us, Rigorous Magazine, and Our Daily Rice, among others. She writes semi-spiritual reflections on underrated films and has directed short theatrical works such as "Genderbent Lifehouse Everything Skit," "Cannot Separate: A Skit for Our Times," and "Cross the Horizon: The Gospel According to Disney," which can all be found on her site: Much of her material is grounded in themes of progressive faith and platonic love.


bottom of page