i cannot believe that u.s. congressmen and women think that an apology is sufficient–not only for slavery but also for the ways in which the west continues to profit off of the system of the trans-atlantic slave trade, slavery, and various modern day forms of enslavement (read: the prison industrial complex). what of the reparations movement? oh, yes, i forgot, the u.s. attempted to shut that conversation down in durban, south africa in 2001 when they also shut down any discussion of zionism = racism. and what of these other apologies? does congress not know about the movement in hawai’i of the indigenous people to take back their islands, their land away from american colonists?
* Elana Schor in Washington
* Tuesday July 29 2008
A branch of the US government is expected today to offer black Americans what it gave American Indians earlier this year: an apology for their past mistreatment.
A formal apology to black Americans for “enslavement and racial segregation,” sponsored by a white Jewish congressman who represents the majority-black city of Memphis, is slated for a vote today in the House of Representatives.
The apology resolution marks a unique step forward in the US, coming as the country embraces its first black presidential nominee in Barack Obama. It officially acknowledges that “lingering consequences” from slavery and segregation continue to haunt blacks in America.
“[A]n apology for centuries of brutal dehumanisation and injustices cannot erase the past, but confession of the wrongs committed can speed racial healing and reconciliation and help Americans confront the ghosts of their past,” the apology states.
Senior black members of Congress have long sought a formal apology for slavery, often coupled with a look at whether reparations should be paid to the descendants of Africans brought to America as slaves.
Slavery was abolished in the US in 1865 under the 13th amendment to the constitution. Racial segregation persisted in the southern states for up to 100 more years thanks to biased rules known as Jim Crow laws.
If the apology passes today, the Senate would need to approve it before George Bush could sign the measure into law. A formal apology to American Indians for their centuries of abuse at the hands of the government passed the Senate earlier this year but has yet to receive a vote in the House.
The US government has apologised for the abuse of ethnic minorities at least twice in the past. In 1988, Congress admitted culpability in the forced internment of Japanese Americans during second world war, and an apology to native Hawaiian peoples was approved in 1993.
Cohen, the sponsor of the slavery apology, is facing a re-election challenge next week from a young black female lawyer, Nikki Tinker. He became the second white congressman to express interest in joining the influential Black Caucus group earlier this year, but abandoned the bid amid opposition from black colleagues.
Obama has not had an opportunity to weigh in on the slavery apology, as no counterpart resolution exists yet in the Senate.
Six US states – Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, Florida, North Carolina and Alabama – have approved separate apologies for slavery during the past 18 months.