Tuesday, July 29, 2008

So Now You Want to Apologize

So 143 years after slavery, the House is proposing a "non-binding" amendment to finally apologize for slavery. Let's see, it took 143 years to realize that stealing people from their family, their homeland, their lives and transporting them over dangerous oceans to a foreign land, raping their women, beating and maiming the men, destroying families, stealing children, selling husbands from wives, selling sucking children from mother's breasts, using men as studs, diluting the race by continuous rapes, enslaving one's own children as a result of rape, causing division between the different colors of the races, not allowing the people to keep their genuine birth names, destroying their customs, languages, killing them if they read, cutting off limbs if they try to write, imposing a system of institutionalized fear, passing laws to keep them enslaved, using their free labor to build the country, taking out insurance policies in the event of their death, purposely engaging in mass-marketing designed to portray them as sub-human to justify the enslavement, all of this for over 400 years and 143 years after the passage of the Emancipation Proclamation, 57 years after the last black man was lynched usually for the alleged crime of looking at a white woman, 40 years after the assassination of a man of peace, 43 years after the descendants of these enslaved people were given the right to vote by law but as late as 4 years ago, were still denied in parts of America, 40 years after the Civil Rights legislation, 54 years since segregation was deemed illegal, 3 years since the country's deplorable treatment after a natural disaster was captured on cable television, now you want to pass a non-binding resolution to apologize for slavery and Jim Crow?

I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

Part of me feels like it is the drunken, abusive husband, after the 100th time of beating his wife to a pulp and her bags are packed to leave him that he comes, only half-heartedly, with his hat in hand to apologize for all the years he degraded her, called her names, sent her on emotional tailspins, kept money from her, beat her senseless, raped her at will, threatened to take away her children, locked her out of her own, and too many crimes to number, he decided to apologize...without having had the professional counseling to make sure he doesn't do it again.

America is an addict. The country is addicted to racism. It fuels the fire of the country boys like Toby Keith to openly write and perform a song on lynching. It allows the rhetoric of why can't the black people just get it together while going home to million dollar McMansions and secure jobs gained by granddaddy's contacts. The country is so addicted it is institutionalized in everything from school to hospitals to grocery stores.

Is an apology enough? After all these years when America suffered through the worse president in history and is enduring a needless war, when the homes of minority men and women are foreclosed on because of greedy, white, mortgage brokers misleading them into subprime loans, when HIV/AIDS is killing 500,000 black people and we send money to Africa to fight the AIDS crisis on the mother continent. When rich, white actresses can adopt an African boy and is heralded for her humanitarian efforts while not feeding the hungry right here in this country, those who have the same skin color and heritage as her son. America is addicted to racism when black boys are sent to prison for the same crime and for longer periods of time while the white boys are sent to "counseling" after their parents lawyered-up. In this country when white womanhood is still held as the flower of femininity and black women are stereotyped as being unwed mothers or loose women when in reality they are some of the most conservative. Is it enough when the fabric of many urban black families were destroyed with the help of government aid that forced the black father/husband to leave his children/wife so the family could receive "government cheese." Generations later, it is on wonder there are so many black children growing up in fatherless homes. All this and now the apology?

It is enough to "make me wanna hollar."

I want the apology with the substance. Make urban schools equal to the rich suburban schools. Demolish the gated communities and exclusive zip codes that are pathways to opportunity for many upper middle and rich kids. Hire the college educated black man and send the ex-con, high school drop out white man back to get his GED. Get rid of the legacy admissions in the nation's prep schools and Ivy League colleges. Give every black person born in America a free college education to make up for the years and years of denied financial opportunity. Eliminate the huge barriers to entry for black businesses and college admissions. Shred the culturally-biased standardized testing and hire qualified teachers who want to teach. Stop busing in black kids to all white school districts without hiring black teachers to be in those classes. Teach black history along with American history so all students have the clear understanding of their country. Tell the truth.

The apology is a good start, but all these years later, it, alone, is not enough.

1 comment:

Thoughtful dialogue is appreciated.