Saturday, June 20, 2009

Nah, You Can Keep It.

You can only say "I'm sorry" so many times before it loses any meaning.

Y'all know the United States Senate has decided to "apologize" for what happened during slavery. I guess I should say "Thank you."

Nah, screw it.

What do I care about an apology? Black folks have been getting these apologies for years now, and it doesn't seem to do much good. The legacy of slavery can't be wiped away by an "I'm sorry." It's going to take a lot more than mere words.

And that ain't gonna happen anytime soon.

Hell, even the apology was poorly done. The way it's worded it doesn't actually blame anybody for effing up. It just says "Oh, we're sorry about what happened to you people, tough luck." Then it makes sure to say that the apology in no way endorses the idea of reparations. It's like they tried to figure the easiest way to get credit for an apology without having to actually admit to anything. Lovely.

This apology became yet another reason for the Chicken Little white folks to complain about how everybody is always bowing down to black folks. It didn't matter that the apology provided no benefits to black folks and only acknowledged what we already knew. Nope, apparently anything that says that slavery was wrong is dangerous because all it will do is encourage the Negroes to complain some more.

It never stops.

I'd rather not have an apology. I'd rather folks just go about their business than make a half-hearted attempt to appease me. It just makes my job harder when I'm trying to expose the realities of life to people in the future.

I was always taught that repentance must be melded with a change in behavior for it to be valid. It doesn't matter how many times folks "apologize" for what was done to black folks, it only matter when people get committed to rectifying the problems created by slavery. Until then, I'm cool on hearing "I'm sorry."

They can keep it.

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32 comments:

macon d said...

As a white person, I'm sorry that white America's official "We're sorry" is so pathetic.

Phew! Gosh, I feel better.

Can I go home and watch TV in peace now?

/snark

Imhotep said...

Typical white person's apology. "we fucked-up your continent, we dehumanize your ancestors and all their offspring so that white people could have the material comfort that we enjoy today. We're sorry but don't expect a fucking thing from us.”

The old white person, same as the new white person!

G said...

Have you read "I'd Rather We Got Casinos" by Larry Wilmore? I got it for my Dad for Father's Day. Check it out.

blackwomenblowthetrumpet.blogspot.com said...

Hi there!

Now what if the apology accompanied a reparations check??

How much would you feel is a fair amount to decide as a descendant of slaves that would make you feel that you could FORGIVE the atrocity of slavery? Is there a dollar amount that you can place on your family members and what they endured?

No.

I don't think any black person can.

I don't know why they harp on reparations...I won't put a price tag on what my people have been through...and no a check won't fix anything...

An apology for slavery is just a political dance to generate publicity.

cinque said...

The damage done to black people has not healed. The effects of those wounds are not something you can simply “get over” with a half hearted apology.
Systematic rape(sorry), mutilation(opps), genocide(my bad), pedophilia(see Jefferson for past and Strom Thurmon for present)(our bad), destruction of family(excuse me), demoralization(uh oh), fear(pardon me), intimidation(we are sorry) and I could go on and on. This is not something black people have ever had dealt with and something society has minimized for decades.

Big Man said...

I'm glad to see we're on the same page people.

Anybody with a dissenting opinion is welcome to speak up.

Deacon Blue said...

I'm sorry that I have access to white privilege for no other reason than I lack much melanin...

...AND I'm sorry that I've done such a piss-poor job of using it to my advantage better career-wise.

First apology is to all y'all...second one is probably to my wife.

Not that either one really changes a damn thing, much like the government's doesn't. But at least I like to think I take ownership of the fact that I KNOW I don't have a 400-year-old yoke on my back and that I try not to misuse my privilege.

Still, I probably manage to mis-use it somehow anyway...

(end babble)

Jenina said...

I wholeheartedly agree with your sentiments simply because the bottom line is it's not enough.

However, let's not forget that before this point, the US government had never issued a formal apology for slavery. The closest they came to doing so was during Clinton's term, and even then, it wasn't an apology so much as it was him begrudgingly acknowledging its existence. So while the apology may seem useless, the fact that this is the first time this is being done is even more tragic.

It's a bittersweet moment...I guess...

DMG said...

Big Man,

For someone who advertises as a Raving Black Lunatic, you seem to be one of the most grounded brothers I've met online.

Tit for Tat said...

Interestingly enough Im not sorry for anything my past ancestors may or may not have done. Im actually amazed that some people feel the need to take that shit on. I have enough stuff in this lifetime to deal with let alone what some other white guys(and some black and yellow and red and.......did) the list goes on.
Hows that song by the eagles go....Id like to find your inner child and kick its little ass, get over it, get over it. ;)

Deacon Blue said...

I think it's less about taking the shit on, Tit for Tat, than it is recognizing that one reaps the benefits (or that others continue to suffer hindrances from) the acts of past generations. The big problem comes when folks say, "I didn't do anything" but then fail to acknolwedge they still got a head start and might do their part to continue injustices, albeit on a smaller level.

We can't bear the burden of others' sins...but we need to recognize that the effects of those sins hasn't suddenly vanished.

Tit for Tat said...

We can't bear the burden of others' sins...but we need to recognize that the effects of those sins hasn't suddenly vanished.(Deacon)

Do you actually believe this shit, I mean, like come on man, if we were to acknowledge every freaking transgression of our ancestors we would be mired in it forever. Like the song says, get over it. Oh yeah, Im so sorry for being born white, I hope I can one day rectify that situation.

Tit for Tat said...

By the way my wife doesnt agree with my position, so Ive changed the photo. ;)

Deacon Blue said...

Of course I believe that "shit" or I wouldn't have said it.

But maybe you are misunderstanding me.

Look, I'm not wandering around as some reservoir of liberal white guilt. What I am saying is that when whites blithely ignore the fact that they have advantages simply by being white (huge ones)...and that many of those advantages (probably most of them) were passed down to them by ancestors (many of them quite recent; slavery didn't end that long ago historically)...well, ignoring those things and pretending that whites are more successful just because is what keeps any true racial understanding from forming between blacks and whites.

As long as whites don't own up to the fact that we have a deck stacked in our favor in this nation, and that some of that ties directly back to slavery and other shit, that means we're tacitly saying that the only reason blacks are suffering in this nation is because they're dipshits or losers.

I doubt that's what you believe.

This isn't about whites beating ourselves up over it. It's about admitting the truth and trying to figure out how things can rebalance in a way that is more proportionately equitable, and thus morally correct.

Frankly, I think we need to own up to a lot more than slavery. When are we going to be honest in our own history books that we stole much of what makes the nation of the United States through thievery and brute force, from the Native Americans and the Mexicans? We don't have to flaggelate ourselves, but let's at least be honest that it was horrible shit that we should be aghast at looking back on it. These aren't just footnotes in history...these things are our legacy. And it's not a very shining legacy really. It doesn't exactly make me want to whoop and cheer, ya know?

Tit for Tat said...

I am aware that there have been atrocities through the millenia, but my issue is with the fact that it wasnt just "Whites" that perpetrated them. Do you forget the fact that the Spanish were also involved in much of what you speak. Also if you look at Asia you would see a whole different group of perpetrators. Pretty much every race in the world has been involved in conquering and slavery at one point. Are all the ancestors of them supposed to acknowledge the moral failures also? Where does it stop? I agree we can work on making our society more equal but I dont see the need for us to be sorry for what other people did. For all we know either you or I may have had ancestors that actually fought against slavery and inequity. Would it be right if I asked all the Black people out there to honour them? I think not.

Deacon Blue said...

Sure, that's all true, but it doesn't mitigate the fact that we continue to perpetrate some of this shit today, and I believe that is partly because too many white in the U.S. think "I'm not racist" and "it doesn't matter what happened in the past."

Those who refuse to acknowledge history, particularly those who hold most of the power and benefits from that history, tend to repeat bad things.

Maybe it's because I'm married to a black woman and have a biracial son...both of whom attract racism on a fairly regular basis (even if some of it is small shit, it adds up over time)...but I see a lot of low-level racism and privilege among whites, and things going on that continue to consolidate power among whites and ration is out or deny it to other races.

Tit for Tat said...

Maybe it would be better to work on a case by case view, rather than all "white" people. I agree there is still racism and obviously in the States it may be more obvious, I just dont like to be lumped in there. That is fair, dont you think?

Deacon Blue said...

Who's lumping you? ;-)

It's not that all whites are bad or all whites are ignorant or all whites are particularly racist. But I think it would be fair to say that the vast majority of whites don't consider their white privilege for a moment, nor consider the myriad ways that both they individually, and society as a whole, bolsters the continuation of that privilege.

Awareness, self-examination, fairness and responsibility are good things. They should be praticed especially among those who hold most of the money and most of the privileges, don't you think?

This isn't about pointing fingers or making a villain...it's about NOT putting our heads in the sand and writing off the past as irrelevant. But that's what whites in the U.S. have been doing for decades (centuries even). And it's the liberals who are as guilty of it in their own way as conservatives. We don't need people simply telling blacks to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and we don't need simply social service band-aids. We need people to talk, to talk honestly, and to not try to ignore their own part in this sad state of social affairs. And yes, that means blacks taking some heat for their own mistakes (as Big Man and black commenters here have indeed done in the past) as well.

All of this is also fair, don't you think? More fair than simply saying, "It's not my fault." Because, really, in some small way, it's everybody's fault, and nothing gets solved until we all become willing to be part of the solution.

Big Man said...

Deac

I didn't even realize you were on here holding court, but let me add my two cents.

Tit for Tat

You don't have to do anything. Nobody can force you to figure out solutions for the problems and injustices your ancestors or other white folks helped create. You can say "It wasn't my fault, I've got enough to deal with."

And folks will treat you accordingly. Every choice has a consequence. You make your choice, you live with the consequence.

You seem to be arguing that you get to make a choice to "not worry" about past injustices, but other folks can't choose to view you as an insensitive, excuse maker for discrimination and injustice. We can't gave that.

You choose not to care. I choose to lump you in with all the other white folks with that mindset.

We both win.

Deacon Blue said...

Well, you know me, Big Man. Every so often, my soapbox just happens to be right nearby, and I can't help but step on up on it for a while.

;-)

Tit for Tat said...

Big Man and Deacon

The wife and I were out for a pint today and got talking about how some view their worlds. And she made me realize that I cant see it the way you guys do. I am Canadian. Now Im not saying we dont have racism, but I dont think its in the same way that you guys experience it. So lets just leave it at...White america may be very different then White Canada. Hows that for a compromise?

And who knows, maybe one day you can take me out for a pint or I you, and you help me to understand how your world is different than mine. :)

Big Man said...

Canada is different from America.

But, it ain't that different. I'm sure if you take a close look at your country's history you'll find past injustices that contribute to current injustices. Everybody has them.

Tit for Tat said...

Big Man

Ok let me ask you this, are there any injustices that you as a Black man has to own up to because of your Black ancestors?

Deacon Blue said...

First, Tit for Tat, I forgot you were in Canada. The way you were responding seemed to be a defensive move for U.S. whites, as this post is pretty specifically U.S.-oriented.

So, yes, Canadian whites don't really bear the burden of the U.S. tradition of slavery against blacks nor the massacre of untold Native Americans to gain most of our land, nor the theft of large portions of land from Mexico. In fact, if my limited knowledge of history is correct, Canada was one of the places escaped black slaves fled to for safety.

That being said, I wouldn't be surprised if, as Big Man said, there are skeletons in your own closet. Not sure how about the relationship between white Canadians and the original native peoples of Canada are or what that past holds, but it might be one area to look at. But most likely, Canadian whites have far less baggage to answer for than U.S. whites.

Now, to answer your question about injustices of black ancestors, it's kind of a red herring, don't you think?

As Big Man noted, "past injustices that contribute to current injustices."

In the U.S., when have blacks had enough power to perpetrate injustice against any group? They haven't. So you'd have to dig far back into their AFRICAN roots to find injustices, and do any of those have any noticeable impact on current problems? Probably not. It would be like blaming the Egyptians of today for Jewish woes simply because some pharoahs ensalved the Hebrews.

Whites, on the other hand, have a history of colonialism and imperialism (and here we're mainly talking European nations) that continues to have fallout in Africa mostly (but also in parts of Asia). The United States has a very recent history in violent expansionism and slavery and human rights violations against blacks (there are people still alive today who weren't allowed to cast votes because they were black).

So, it's about context. If the sins are so far back that they don't truly affect current injustices, no, there is no particular reason to feel personal responsibility.

But in the case of U.S. whites, for example, which I can speak to, they enjoy many benefits of their white privilege, and blacks (for example) continue to be treated differently, disciminated against and otherwise inhibited from accessing the opportunies that whites have.

Sure, it's getting better, but the problem is that as things get better, too many white here want to think the work is done or pat themselves on the back, instead of paying attention to all the work that still needs to be done to rebalance the scales.

Tit for Tat said...

Deacon

You may want to read this.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_slavery

Its not only whites who need to take stock of their inheritance.

Deacon Blue said...

Tit for Tat, what are you trying to prove to me?

That blacks have been involved with slavery too? OK, and how LONG ago was it that they did so in any significant way? Multiple centuries.

How RECENT was slavery in the Americas? Recent enough for some people to have great-grandparents who were either slaves or who were for all intents and purposes slaves during the sharecropping abuses in the years that followed abolition.

Also, aside from white nations in relatively recent history, how many folks can you point to who went off across the ocean to another continent to steal people en masse and ship them back, then breed them and treat them like livestock to built their empires?

That is a level of nastiness that I haven't seen matched by any other race, and unless I'm missing something in that history link you provided, you cannot find any equal for that historically in any other race.

You also continue to seem to be missing the point that what is being discussed here are evils that still have ripples that extend into TODAY'S society.

The fallout of black slavery is still felt today. Its effects and aftermath are still woven into societal attitudes toward blacks.

Ancient history has little impact on modern situations. But black slavery in American is NOT ancient history. And persecution of blacks, at a level not unlike that of slave times, continued well into the 20th century, all the way into the 1950s and 1960s.

Gross racial injustices of the mid 20th century were the DIRECT descendents of slavery in the United States. And many of the problems that blacks face today are the DIRECT descendents of the shit that went on prior to the successes of the Civil Rights Movement.

How, in good conscience, can you say that with history THAT recent, that U.S. whites of the current generation can just wash their hands and say, "Not my problem?"

I'm not trying to be a dick about this, man...but you seem to be trying awfully hard to defend U.S. whites, and you're Canadian...which make me more convinced that white privilege is such a powerful global phenomenon that most of my white brethren must just be wired to leap to each other's defense on this issues.

Deacon Blue said...

By the way, Tit for Tat, if you're going to rebut my comment abovce by pointing out to me that slavery still goes on in some nations, including African ones, I also know that.

But what we're addressing here is the fact that U.S. society has prospered heavily, built on a foundation of slavery; and whites have been the biggest benefitors of that prosperity; and most whites continue to marginalize blacks in the U.S.

Tit for Tat said...

Deacon

I guess my point is that I know just as many poor disenfranchised white people as I do black people. In not saying there isnt more black poverty. Its just, if as you say whites have such an advantage because of their skin color, why are so many of them struggling too. There may be many white people who are better off because of the slave trade, its just not "all Whites". Im sure you wouldnt like it if I said "all Blacks" are Gangsters, or "all Italians" are mobsters. Do you at least get where I am coming from? I know inequity when I see it. I just dont think blaming all with the same brush benefits anyone.

Deacon Blue said...

Yes, there are poor white people. But poor black people deal with MORE crap. Why?

Because even poor white people don't see themselves in the same boat at them. They look down at them and blame them too often instead of blaming the people with the money more often.

The point is that even white people have plenty of privilege RELATIVE to black people. I have seen plenty of cases of my black wife, who is not poor, being treated worse than a white person who is poor, under similar circumstances. That's a personal example, but it is one echoed in what I've seen around me as well, and heard from other people.

Blacks and Native Americans got the biggest fuck you from the whites in this country, and continue to be fucked up the ass.

Yes, whites can be poor. But you know what, a white poor person with will get a job faster than a black poor person, even if their skills are equal. And sometimes even if the black person is more competent.

And a black person well dressed in a car will be pulled over a lot faster by cops for no reason than a white person dressed grubby.

Deacon Blue said...

In my response, I should have written in the beginning of the second paragraph "Even POOR white people..."

And something else:

You know, I think you THINK these posts/comments are trying to paint all white people in the same corner, but that's not the case.

The point is not that all whites are bad or ignortant or "well off." It's that almost all whites want to say, "Not my fault and no longer MY problem" and they refuse to acknowledge how they still benefit more from the systems in society than blacks do. It's one thing to have privilege and acknowledge it at least (even without guilt). It's quite another to have it and try to act like you didn't get it off the backs of others in the recent past...or even worse, to act like whites don't have more advantages than blacks.

What amazes me here, Tit for Tat, is that you have beliefs sharply counter to my own religious beliefs and challenge those beliefs on my own blog (which is good, mind you). Yet you never challenge me to the degree there that you have here. That itself speaks to the power of racial differences, racial privilege and ingrained societal norms that you will fight so hard to defend whites in another country against what is historically clear and been proven with good studies (inequities, white privilege, disparities between race even amogn the poor, etc.)...yet you spend far less time deriding my beliefs that you think are superstitious or perhaps even arrogant.

With that, I think I will leave off any further discussion here.

Tit for Tat said...

Deacon, man I was just taking the Big man's offer for people with dissenting views ;)
I still dont agree with you and I like when you rebut me. I learn that way, and maybe thats how we can come to the middle ground. I still have a little left in me, are you up for some more?

Deacon Blue said...

It's not that I'm offended and angry or anything like that. I just don't want to risk a more drawn out discussion that might be warranted nor risk that we might start running around in circles. You're no Thordaddy, of course, not even close to that level of crazy, but at the same time, I'm somewhat gunshy of extending these things too long after some past experiences. If there are some specific things you still want to bring up, I'll consider them on a case-by-case, but I'll probably be scaling my responses back significantly.

Hope that made sense.

Raving Black Lunatic