Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A HISTORIC APOLOGY

My mom sent me an article from CNN that let me know the House of Representatives have passed a resolution that apologizes for slavery and Jim Crow. Although individual states have apologized for slavery in the past, this is the first time any branch of the federal government has done so. I don’t know if anyone has apologized for Jim Crow before this point. I actually think that apology carries much more weight. The article I read had this excerpt from the resolution

"African-Americans continue to suffer from the consequences of slavery and Jim Crow -- long after both systems were formally abolished -- through enormous damage and loss, both tangible and intangible, including the loss of human dignity and liberty, the frustration of careers and professional lives, and the long-term loss of income and opportunity,"

I am actually in shock that a branch of the government went so far as to acknowledge this, particularly the part about the long-term loss of income and opportunity. Although I certainly know it to be true, and most people I hang out with know it to be true, many people obviously do not. Many of the comments from the article are a testament to that fact. One of the more common arguments I hear in regard to issues of the overwhelmingly obvious disparity between Black and white America is that it is not a race issue but a class issue. To have the government link the two together is, in my opinion a big deal.

The article also briefly mentioned reparations, as much as I would love to get the current monetary value of 40 acres and a mule, adjusted for inflation of course, I know that is just silly. Come on people, there won’t ever be any reparations. Stop asking for them. Even if there was a legitimate way to decide who would get them our country is broke and couldn’t possibly afford it.

Anyway, I’m happy it was said. Sure it’s symbolic and doesn’t really change anything, but aren’t apologies in general primarily symbolic? I think the acknowledgement of the lingering repercussions is enormous and hope more people take a second to stop and think about what that really means.

5 comments:

Mom said...

Natalie, thanks for blogging about this. I just read an article in my local paper (online) about how we neglect the AIDS epidemic among African Americans while working hard to combat AIDS in other countries. I posted a comment about this, and noted that I had not seen any coverage about the historic apology in the local paper. Hmm...

citizen of the world said...

Symbolism is important, and even making people think is "changing things."

Woozie said...

People asking for reparations frustrate me so much. They completely neglect the cost of doing such a thing and what other things they would have to sacrifice for a fat, one time check. There are better-and fairer-things that money could go towards.

Johnny Yen said...

It's hard to believe it's taken this long. It's also hard to believe that in 2008, it's a big deal that either an African-American person or a woman is running for President.

dmarks said...

I read recently that Congress spends a lot of its time doing nothing. One senator said that they passed a "National Corvette Day" resolution because it shows that they are at least doing something with the ridiculously high pay that they get in Congress.

This might be on the same line. But unlike the corvette thing, it's meaningful. But isn't it all just talk?

But I am kind of interested to see who would actually vote against this.