Slavery: Apology Not Accepted

Illseed is an columnist and independent cultural critic. The views expressed with in this editorial don’t necessarily reflect the views of or its staff.

I will be brief.

Reps for America, you can take your apology for slavery and shove it.

What does this apology really mean?

This apology means absolutely nothing (read the news story). You are about 140 years late! Be clear, American slavery lasted about 400 years here on American soil during the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. Rape. Murder. Death. Lynching. Terror. Free Labor. And Much More.

First of all, we as a people cannot go back in time and reverse the evil and devastation on African Americans. We cannot (or will not) reverse or equalize the benefits that White people have gained from slavery. Nobody is truly regretful for anything and this admission of guilt is likely an attempt to pacify people or for some other political end. Here is why:

An apology of this magnitude has to be backed up by some sort of sustained action. Generally, when you have harmed or done damage to somebody’s life, property or otherwise, there is measurable restitution for the crime or offense. Displaying a sincere apology means offering to pay the wrong parties and also show a plan to solve the problem. Oftentimes, the guilty party will even ask the other group to reveal the best way of rectifying the situation.

Nobody in government asked, but AllHipHop queried people like rapper Killer Mike. who suggested that a different sort of reparation be doled out.

“When they start talking about reparations, let's not make it about the money,” outspoken rapper Mike told “Let's make it education based. I think every Black person in America should be able to go to college for free.”

We know that won’t happen, even though it really is an excellent alternative that should yield results. It is actually more favorable than money if we could get our school systems together enough to prepare kids for college.Apologies should really show how much you know the other person[s] were hurt by your actions. Obviously, if you say sorry you are opting to speak on behalf of your “body” (which is America) or your actual ancestors that owned slaves. America is supposedly admitting to this domestic holocaust, but what do we really get when it’s all said?

Whenever I talk to White people and some younger Black people, all I get is:

“I didn’t own any slaves.”

“This is a new generation and we don’t see color.”

“Get over it.”

“Its time to move on.”

Well, how do you expect somebody just “get over” slavery when people treat it like a bad break up. Somehow, the “sincerity” of the governing bodies isn’t trickling down to the rest of the country, even though I admit progress is being made. But how much advancement has really materialized? We are constantly reminded of the disparities in everything imaginable (health, wealth, quality of life, etc, etc) and most of the differences travel down the fault lines of race (and class).

New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina, Sean Bell, Amadou Bailo Diallo, the AIDS rate, murder rates, educational inconsistencies, the Black family in ruins…the list goes on and on and on. Most, if not all of these ills, are related to slavery or allied with the Father of slavery - White supremacy. I am still impacted, bothered and outraged at slavery and its racist aftereffects.

I see very few – if any people – willing to accept responsibility for slavery in any sincere way.

On top of it all, Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), felt as though the House deserved some sort of pat on the back for doing something that should been done decades ago. Cohen said. "I'm proud we did this as a part of this Congress.” I will be proud when these sentiments trickle and permeate through to the society at large and we can see improvement in the minds and lives of a mighty, but severely disenfranchised people. I want a commitment to bettering peoples’ lives from federal, state and local governments!

When it’s all said and done, an apology is a request for forgiveness. The recipient is completely allowed to deny the request.

Apology not accepted, in the immortal words of Latin singer Lisa Lisa. Still, I pledge to progress along with everybody else willing to do so, but I will accept that apology when those sustainable advances are made in and outside of the Black community.

Sorry. That wasn’t so brief, but neither was the time it took to get that apology.


“I believe that this apology is way over due and it was just done strategically at a time when Congress is at an incredibly low approval rating. I think its a step in the right direction, but since slavery without a doubt built up the capital for capitalism [in America], there needs to be a discussion in Congress about some sort of reparations. That and the social, religious and educational mechanisms that facilitated the justification for slavery and the modern form of racism, that was born from it."

-Immortal Technique to