Friday, March 02, 2007

Apologies

I am sure you all noticed I didn't get very far with the Black History timeline last month. Got stuck on slavery after State Delegate Hargrove of Virginia said in response to a request for an official apology, that Black Americans should, get over slavery. I was trying to figure out if that's possible, so I was doing more reading than writing. I even took a little poll for my own info.
The apology is a controversial issue.
Many Black people don't want no stinkin' apology. There is no tangible benefit, and no sincerity.
Many do feel that taking 100% responsibility for the inhumanity and suffering, and asking for forgiveness without expectation or demand would have healing power, far-reaching and profound for both sides.
Personally, I'd like an apology from my government, with no attempt to dodge responsibility, no attempt to discount or deny the pain and ingrained disease that slavery inflicted on Africans in America, their culture and their descendents. President Clinton came close once, but no cigar.

Others have received not only apologies but reparations for the wrongs inflicted on them. Germany apologized and paid restitution to survivors and descendents of it's WWII atrocities. The USA apologized and paid reparations to Japanese citizens interred in this country during WWII. I'm just saying.

Well, I suppose the Isaah Washington/Tim Hardaway/Micheal Richards, asshole rehab center, or ARC (an Alexandraism), is working fine, because the State of Virginia has passed a resolution that expresses an apology for slavery. How 'bout that.

RICHMOND, Va. (Feb. 25) - Meeting on the grounds of the former Confederate Capitol, the Virginia General Assembly voted unanimously Saturday to express "profound regret" for the state's role in slavery.

The resolution says government-sanctioned slavery "ranks as the most horrendous of all depredations of human rights and violations of our founding ideals in our nation's history."

Sponsors of the resolution say they know of no other state that has apologized for slavery, although Missouri lawmakers are considering such a measure. The resolution does not carry the weight of law but sends an important symbolic message, supporters said.

"This session will be remembered for a lot of things, but 20 years hence I suspect one of those things will be the fact that we came together and passed this resolution," said Delegate A. Donald McEachin, a Democrat who sponsored it in the House of Delegates.

The resolution passed the House 96-0 and cleared the 40-member Senate on a unanimous voice vote. It does not require Gov. Timothy M. Kaine's approval.

The measure also expressed regret for "the exploitation of Native Americans."
That's nice.
It's just a gesture, I know, but I am still waiting for the U.S. Congress or a U.S. President to do the same.

7 comments:

Dharmashanti said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. I grew up just outside Atlanta in the 1960's and 1970s. The KKK was very visible then, passing out pamphlets on street corners. They even held a rally by our high school. I never understood it. And I never participated in it.

I don't know what it is like to be black, but I do know what it is like to be discriminated against. I know what it is like to be denied for jobs and to be beaten up for being different. I know what it is like to live in a world where epithets against your culture are used regularly everywhere and even as the butts of jokes.

I have found that what I need isn't apologies. What I need to heal can't come from anyone but me. I have to choose to love myself and to let go of the victim labels and resentments that hold me back.

Imagine how the world can change if we spend less time defending the walls that divide us and more time building bridges.

There was a poster I saw when I was a kid. It had two sets of footprints. One of the sets of foot prints had three feet. At the bottom were these words, "I like you. You're different."

I like you, Jackie. You're different. And I learn a lot from reading your blog.

Peace,
Dharmashanti

Come out to where the Blogosphere meets the Dharm-iverse!
http://dharmashanti.blogspot.com

Monica Roberts said...

The healing can begin when our government says 'I'm Sorry.'

We've seen Germany apologize to Jews for the Holocaust and our government apologize to Japanese-Americans for interning them during World War II and paying reparations.

The Japanese goverment has finally gotten around to admitting that they used women in the Asian countrioes they occupied during WW2 as 'comfort women'.

So what's holding my government back from doing the same thing for 246 years of slavery?

Jackie said...

Dharma,
I don't think there are many people who wouldn't say slavery was wrong and horrid. But the point here is that this wrong was perpetrated by and we were failed protection by our own government. The point is also, what is the problem exactly with making an official true, clean apology? Why is it so difficult to do about something so clearly wrong and hurtful. I didn't even mention the 40 acres and mule that was promised and never paid the freed slaves. What they got was Jim Crow, share cropping and the KKK. Whether a transgression is minor or major, an apology has healing power especially if a relationship is to continue..if trust is expected.

Jackie said...

Monica,
So what's holding my government back? That is the question. I remember the big stink when Clinton was on the verge of doing it. ???
I can't imagine doing something that egregious to another person, and not apologizing, then expecting that persons, loyalty, trust and support.

Monica Roberts said...

My atitude toward Black history is one that is shared by my mom, my late godmother and Tom Joyner.


EVERY month is Black History Month.

Monica Roberts said...

jackie,
What's holding an apology back?

Money and politics.

That interest on the 40 acres and a mule compemsation that passed Congress but was vetoed by Andrew Johnson is STILL accruing.

Every day fresh evidence is being unearthed about the numerous American corporations that either used slave labor, or profited from it with the blessings and protections of a US government dominated at the time by legislators from slave holding states.

It's time for a Truth Commission on Slavery. The country has been in a deep denial about the effects of slavery on our nation for too long and it needs to be dealt with so that we can move forward. (I argue that we are STILL experiencing the post-traumatic effects of slavery)

Jackie said...

Monica,
Absolutely. A commission is a what is needed. This government loves commissions, seriously. Publish it's findings and have that national debate out loud. It will be painful but like you said then we can move past it. Now it's like a wound that this country keeps all cleaned and freshly bandaged, but it never healed.