Mercy Amidst Fear: Bees, Racial Profiling, and Compassion

Ending his essay with a Gay suggests that he is asking for a type of forgiveness. A forgiveness that is reserved for someone who has been hurt for a long time and needs a true act of compassion from the person who has hurt them (Lecture Notes). To think about mercy, what it means and who it is for, Gay talks about his encounter with bees to get us to think about mercy and how bees can give mercy all while still having the power to hurt someone.

Gay uses bees symbolically to represent people (Lecture Notes). At first, it can seem unclear what Gay is trying to say. How he talks about the theme of racial profiling in our society and how it relates to bees. Gay shows how people can approach a hive, “angry and anxious, and the bees know this from far away”.

In this quote, Gay brings his point full-circle by admitting his fear of bees, and how he feared the bees would attack him.

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He thought about killing them, but the bees didn’t attack, “They knew inside, there was a truth other than murder. They had mercy”. This ambiguous ending of his experience can allow readers to reflect and apply this experience to the impact of racial profiling and the effect it has on individuals and even themselves (Lecture Notes). Bees can sense your fear, and their interpretation of your fear and anxiety can lead them to sting you or not, but they have a choice.

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This is similar to what people of color experience today. As Gay notes, the system can make people of color feel fear and anxiety and anger, towards a society that continuously hurts them.

But, these people can choose how they act or react(Lecture Notes). People of color still interact with these ‘bees’, despite experiencing continuous pain from them. They still live in a society that treats them worse because of the color of their skin. But, for bees stinging you is a choice, just how hurting people based on their skin color is also a choice (Lecture Notes). Bring us back to the end of Gay’s essay when he asks for mercy, he is asking for the people to make this choice and give mercy, despite being approached with the fearful person (Lecture Notes), stand against the anger and prejudice that were taught to them and look beyond what someone's skin color is in order to treat them like a human being.

Updated: Nov 30, 2023
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Mercy Amidst Fear: Bees, Racial Profiling, and Compassion. (2022, May 23). Retrieved from

Mercy Amidst Fear: Bees, Racial Profiling, and Compassion essay
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