Front Street

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

By Gigi

The United States Congress is saying “sorry” for slavery. The Senate voted unanimously for a “resolution” acknowledging the fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality and inhumanity of slavery and Jim Crow laws”, which authorized the segregation that followed the Civil War. If the House passes a similar measure by June 30th, as expected, it would mark the highest official mea culpa for the hundreds of years of brutality and discrimination that had been enshrined by the Constitution and courts.

Slavery and Jim Crow, and their continuing consequences, are not the historical baggage of one state, one region or one company; they are an enduring national and institutionalize shame, and in some instances persists to this very day of 2009. Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush had both expressed remorse for slavery…how nice. And Congress has recognized other injustices, such as the internment or prolonged detainment of Japanese Americans during World War II. The slaughtering of indigenous Indians and the extermination of Jewish people during the holocaust, which didn’t occur in America but still, the aforementioned were all compensated in some form or another.

No one pretends that a mere apology or any words of remorse can right the wrongs of the most heinous crimes committed against Black people in the United States. The apology only represents the United States recognition of the past and its commitment to fully live up to our nation’s promise…and that is to never, NEVER EVER, allow this to happen again. The apology does have one caveat…it does not intend to compensate or pay reparations in any form, the apology is simply enough.