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Apologies For Slavery

Monday, June 9, 2008 14 comments



According to this article, six states have adopted resolutions expressing an apology for their states historic role in slavery. Everyone (with the exception of white supremacists) would agree that slavery was an atrocity in our nation's history. But honesty, what is an apology coming from people that had nothing to do with it going to do. Furthermore, national black leaders not only applaud the gestures, but want more and when I say more I mean reparations to descendants.

What do you think?
Are these resolutions necessary?
Do you support reparations?

14 comments: to “ Apologies For Slavery so far...

  • DB June 9, 2008 at 10:00 PM
     

    I don't understand the point of this apology. It is not my fault, nor anyone else's in this country who is alive today therefore the apology will be pandering more than sincere anyways. Why would they want that? Just to hear it said? That's ridiculous. Now an apology on behalf of a state government to the slaves themselves, or at most a child of a slave, wouldn't hurt, but is still pointless now. In 2008, I couldn't imagine too many, if any, children of slaves were alive, so again, pandering to the few just to shut them up (good as reason as any I suppose). But, really, does an apology shut them up? No! They would want more. That won't be good enough, so why do it anyways?

    Reparations would do more harm than good for race relations in the US. People who otherwise have no racist tendancies (like most people) would be offended by this empty gesture and would become very bitter with the entire thing, making it a racial issue where no issue exists.

    But I must say I have never met a single black person who has ever supported reparations. I think that is an issue to only a select few people who just yell louder than the others.

  • Nikki June 9, 2008 at 10:56 PM
     

    I agree with DB. But the angle I will raise is reparations to women. Black men voted before women of any color and I don't see a check coming my way for being sorry. Sexism is alive and well and women all over America need an apology if they are handing the repentance checks. Let well enough alone and lets not apologize to many who were never slaves nor have ancestors who were slaves. I worked in genealogy for a while and many black people are disappointed to find no slave ancestry. Many women are still slaves to their husbands so take that guilt mongers! lol enjoyed the read :)N

  • layneh June 9, 2008 at 10:56 PM
     

    I dont see the apology as negative, and thus I dont think that it hurts to give it.

    If it does some good to those who are still upset that they had slaves in their family trees, what does it hurt?

    Reparations, I believe that they are already getting reparations. Its called equal opportunity. Its in the job market, and in schools. I think that providing a job and schooling is sufficient... and I think that even these should have a sunset clause.

    The generations of today have the opportunity to succeed, better than the majority, if you choose not to accept it, that is your own fault. If you do accept it, and better yourself, then the next generations should not need it.

    Equal opportunity and affirmative action should be put to an end within the near generations future.

    My generation is currently has a large weight on its shoulders. Apologizing for our ancestors, coping with affirmative action and equal opportunity, as well as confronting a fault social security program, when has the majority paid the debts of our ancestral societies faults??

  • MikeT June 10, 2008 at 8:44 AM
     

    What's ironic here is that there are probably people who live in this country who have owned slaves. It's still a common practice in the parts of Africa where Islam is dominant and the Arabian peninsula.

  • McQ June 11, 2008 at 5:37 PM
     

    I wouldn't apologize for the actions of any of my ancestors, as I am not responsible for their behaviors. Who would we be apologizing to, anyway? Dead slaves? Do you think they'll accept our apology?

  • James June 11, 2008 at 8:19 PM
     

    I wouldn't apologize for the actions of any of my ancestors, as I am not responsible for their behaviors.

    No one's asking you to apologize, McQ.

    These are apologies from states for the slavery which they condoned and supported and profited from. No one is suggesting that anyone alive today is responsible for slavery.

    those who are still upset that they had slaves in their family trees

    I don't hear anyone talking about being "upset" that they "had slaves in their family tree," layneh.

    They're upset that this nation practiced widespread slavery for generations.

    They're upset that the nation benefited tremendously from that slavery, being able to jump to the front ranks of world economic powers because of the industrialization fueled by slavery.

    They're upset that the nation has never seen fit to apologize for its actions, which to this day benefit all Americans and which still cause lasting harm to some.

    What's ironic here is that there are probably people who live in this country who have owned slaves.

    Why is that ironic, Mike?

    Do you mean that an apology from a state, or the entire country, for slavery is somehow less appropriate, because some immigrants today may have owned slaves in their native countries?

  • DB June 11, 2008 at 9:37 PM
     

    James, interesting points. I think we all understand the heinous nature of the slave trade and consider it a major black eye in the history of our world and America. But what will an apology accomplish that hasn't been accomplished already? Sure, a state apologizing for its role is fine considering it is the States right to do so, but reparations? To who and why? Would reparations solve a problem or create a new one in terms of race relations? An apology won't hurt anyone, but reparations will create a lot of tension and bitterness more than solve any problem.

  • James June 11, 2008 at 9:52 PM
     

    what will an apology accomplish that hasn't been accomplished already?

    That's a fair point, db. What does an apology ever accomplish? It's an opportunity to acknowledge the wrongs of the past, and to heal the rift today.

    With millions of Americans sincerely believing that the nation has never acknowledged the wrong their ancestors suffered, or the benefits which that suffering brought to the nation, there seems to be plenty of room for an apology, or at least an acknowledgement of our shared history, to do some good.

    Sure, a state apologizing for its role is fine considering it is the States right to do so, but reparations? To who and why?

    Well, that's a very different question, isn't it? The supporters of apologies, and of reparations, are entirely different groups.

    I'd start, though, by suggesting that the answer, if there is one, would have to be compensation targeted at those who can be shown to suffer the lingering effects of slavery and discrimination today, by the nation which still enjoys the benefits of that history.

    Would reparations solve a problem or create a new one in terms of race relations?

    An important point, although if done properly, reparations would amount to nothing more than compensating people for the harm done by slavery and discrimination.

    This goal alone shouldn't generate "a lot of tension and bitterness," whatever the theoretical or practical objections to particular solutions might be.

    The real question is whether the legitimate goals of such a movement should be subordinated to the risk of resentment by a few.

    By this logic, of course, the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s was a colossal mistake, as desegregation, voting rights, and other social upheavals met with similar responses.

  • McQ June 11, 2008 at 10:02 PM
     

    I can't seem to understant the argument of "we hurt your ancestors, here's a check. Forgive us?". It's just another example of our society looking for government handouts.

    While I agree we need to embrace our heritage, and that it makes us who we are to some degree, I don't agree that we need to apologize for the sins of our fathers. Even as a state. Nothing is going to change by a state issuing a formal apology. Slavery will still have been wrong, and people will still use it as an excuse for their current situations.

    It's a crazy notion for a lot of people, but how about taking on some personal responsibility in this culture where we love to place blame for everything?

  • James June 12, 2008 at 12:15 PM
     

    I can't seem to understant the argument of "we hurt your ancestors, here's a check. Forgive us?".

    I can see why you wouldn't understand that argument.

    No one should be asking for forgiveness for what they haven't done, much less trying to buy forgiveness.

    Nor should anyone be expecting massive payments in exchange for harm done to people long dead.

    On the other hand, there's ample basis for considering targeted programs, not handouts, to address the lingering effects of slavery and discrimination on people alive today. Our government and our society were responsible for those atrocities, and benefited from them. To consider whether there are ways to address the remaining effects isn't crazy.

    I don't agree that we need to apologize for the sins of our fathers. Even as a state.

    I see these as two very different things. We certainly don't need to apologize for the sins of our fathers. But for a state to apologize for its own actions? Again, while I might not choose that, I don't think it's crazy, either. The state would apologize for something it did five years ago, right? Twenty? Fifty? (That happens all the time.)

    Slavery will still have been wrong, and people will still use it as an excuse for their current situations.

    This strikes me as an odd argument, frankly. Of course slavery will still have been wrong. That's true of *any* apology. But it doesn't mean apologies are worthless, or shouldn't be offered: while I might not want to see an apology in this situation, we do agree that in general, apologizing for one's wrongdoing is appropriate, right?

    This comment about excuses, and your remark about personal responsibility, suggest to me that you feel that there are people out there offering excuses and failing to take responsibility for their lives.

    That may be true, but it doesn't change the facts about the continuing impact of centuries of slavery and discrimination. These can easily be demonstrated, and I don't think it's an argument against thinking about them that some people might be mired in victimhood. Especially if that victimhood itself is clearly the result of a culture born of poverty, neglect, discrimination, and a lack of opportunity for centuries.

  • Doorman-Priest June 14, 2008 at 3:40 PM
     

    I am not responsible for the sins of my fathers. I can regret their actions, but I can not apologise for them.

  • James June 14, 2008 at 5:33 PM
     

    I am not responsible for the sins of my fathers. I can regret their actions, but I can not apologise for them.

    I think everyone here's in agreement about that much. :-)

    The most I ever hear anyone say is that perhaps institutions which existed back then, especially ones which take pride in having done great things generations ago, could apologize for what they did back then that wasn't so great.

  • Kinggame June 15, 2008 at 1:02 PM
     

    I'm actually on board with the states apologizing for slavery, but not for any of these reasons. No, no of us are responsible for the crimes of the past, but these are good things to acknowledge. While Japanese authorities are purposefully downplaying the atrocities that occurred during the rape of Nanking, and huge numbers of Europeans downplay or deny the Holocaust, we are admitting mistakes from the past. And it is vital to do so.

  • Kinggame June 15, 2008 at 1:10 PM
     

    Oh and I could not disagree with a couple of your points more, DB. "People who otherwise have no racist tendancies (like most people)" Sorry, but I completely disagree. I honestly think every adult man and woman in the country is racist to some degree. You, me, and every other black, white and every other appearing American. Anyone who tells themselves they have no prejudices is kidding themselves. Or lying. The difference is how we react to our gut prejudices, and allow our good to overcome our bad.

    I would go further to extend this all people of all nations, except I know some people have never met or seen anyone outside their own race. They might be excluded.

 
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