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Regrets Over Slavery

 
 
Reply Sun 25 Feb, 2007 12:31 am


What good does a resolution like this serve?

I certainly regret that slavery existed in America as I'm sure the vast majority of Americans do as well. I have no objection to government officials expressing this regret in a public resolution, but I just wonder if there is anything more to it than politics.

I suspect that some of the people who voted for this resolution, while not being politically clumsy enough to voice it, expect or hope that in some way it will lead to black citizens getting over slavery.

Is there reason to believe that a resolution like this will improve race relations or help blacks citizens feel better about their place in America, or do any remotely measurable good at all?

Should it be seen as the crossing of some cultural or political threshold?

Despite what this article suggests, expressing regret (profound or otherwise) for slavery in America is not the same as apologizing for slavery in America. Would an unequivocal apology by a state government or, for that matter, the national government be a more effective measure?

Somehow I doubt that 20 years from now more than a very few will remember this session of the Virginia General Assembly at all let alone for passing this resolution.

Slavery and racism have represented a terrible stain on this nation's history. Regret for their existence seems unquestionable, and if an official apology will help right their wrongs what possible objection could there be?

Since the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, it is possible that such measures could result in some harm: i.e. if persons believed that they somehow put an end to the issue of race in this country, or if others believed that they signified entitlement for extra-ordinary recompense.

I'm not sure that either harm is likely or would be of significance and so are not reasons not to enact the measures, but I would like to believe there is some good that would come from them that is greater than a few politicians and activists getting their names in the news. I just don't.
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aidan
 
  2  
Reply Sun 25 Feb, 2007 01:48 am
Quote:
What good does a resolution like this serve?

It's an official recognition (finally) of an historical national atrocity.

Quote:
The resolution says government-sanctioned slavery "ranks as the most horrendous of all depredations of human rights and violations of our founding ideals in our nation's history, and the abolition of slavery was followed by systematic discrimination, enforced segregation, and other insidious institutions and practices toward Americans of African descent that were rooted in racism, racial bias, and racial misunderstanding."

I think this language, for the first time, expresses it in real terms, not trying to whitewash it or gloss over what the cost was to those who were living under that "systematic discrimination and enforced segregation" that followed the official abolition of slavery, as has previously and most frequently been the case, not only by our government, but by countless individuals I've heard speak about it myself- as in "that was in the past- they should just get over it- what do you want me to do about it- I wasn't a part of it..."etc., etc.
Quote:
I certainly regret that slavery existed in America as I'm sure the vast majority of Americans do as well. I have no objection to government officials expressing this regret in a public resolution, but I just wonder if there is anything more to it than politics.

With politicians, you can never know, but whatever their motives, I think it was a good thing to do.

Quote:
I suspect that some of the people who voted for this resolution, while not being politically clumsy enough to voice it, expect or hope that in some way it will lead to black citizens getting over slavery.

That's not a bad thing. All citizens need to get over the attitudes that led to slavery, and black citizens being able to feel that it's been recognized, addressed and taken responsibility for can only be helpful in any healing that might take place.

Quote:
Is there reason to believe that a resolution like this will improve race relations or help blacks citizens feel better about their place in America, or do any remotely measurable good at all?

I think so. James Baldwin said, "Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced."
It makes me feel better about Virginia. I always felt driving through Virginia and seeing all the confederate flags still displayed, that they were still fighting the civil war. I never did get the feeling that slavery was regretted there. Now I think maybe I got the wrong impression.

Quote:
Should it be seen as the crossing of some cultural or political threshold?

It remains to be seen, but as the "first" of anything opens doors for those who are willing to go through, I think it's a start.

Quote:
Despite what this article suggests, expressing regret (profound or otherwise) for slavery in America is not the same as apologizing for slavery in America. Would an unequivocal apology by a state government or, for that matter, the national government be a more effective measure?

I guess at this point "expressing regret" is the closest anyone will come to acknowledging responsibility. I guess saying, "We're sorry" would imply personal responsibility- and at this late date, no one who was personally responsible for enacting or participating in the laws of slavery is still alive. But maybe this will lead to those who are still alive who participated in enacting the laws of segregation and Jim Crow coming forward and apologizing-taking personal responsibility for their beliefs and actions-one can always fantasize. Laughing

Quote:
Somehow I doubt that 20 years from now more than a very few will remember this session of the Virginia General Assembly at all let alone for passing this resolution.

I hope that's not true because that would mean no change came of it. I do hope it leads to changes in individual attitudes- which would be the most productive and efficacious changes.

Quote:
Slavery and racism have represented a terrible stain on this nation's history. Regret for their existence seems unquestionable, and if an official apology will help right their wrongs what possible objection could there be?

Were there stated objections? I saw the vote was unanimous, but were there stated objections in the press and publicity leading up to the vote?

Quote:
Since the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, it is possible that such measures could result in some harm: i.e. if persons believed that they somehow put an end to the issue of race in this country, or if others believed that they signified entitlement to extraordinary recompense.

I think most citizens of any race believe that the issue of race in the US has been stalled for quite some time. What I see most commonly expressed is that those in the majority don't understand the continued fuss by those in the minority, while those in the minority have come to the understanding that the majority believes that they just need to be happy with what they get cause there won't be very much more empathy and understanding forthcoming.
And I think if you brought up the prospect of extraordinary recompense for the legacy and effect of slavery to most of the black people I know, they'd laugh long and hard and tell you not to believe in such pie in the sky dreams. The black people I know aren't holding their breath, of course I can't speak for any others.
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OCCOM BILL
 
  2  
Reply Sun 25 Feb, 2007 02:29 am
Re: Regrets Over Slavery
I'd say it's WAY overdo. Consider how many people still living were living there while it was still a racist cesspool. It's not ancient history and an apology is very much in order.

Finn dAbuzz wrote:

I certainly regret that slavery existed in America as I'm sure the vast majority of Americans do as well.
You might be surprised at how ignorant some people remain. Check out some of the responses to this thread for instance (especially cjhsa and to a lesser degree Chai and others).

here
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artsyWhispy
 
  1  
Reply Wed 15 Aug, 2012 12:44 pm
@Finn dAbuzz,
I want to say something.
I just finished reading Uncle Tom's Cabin and other similar books; I had noticed men being ripped away from their wives and children. The woman was left to bear alot on her own. I think women got used it, and I wonder, did that mentallity carry over to our current generation? You know, with the numerous amount of african american single mothers out there that think singleness is perfectly okay? Is this a slave mentality that has been carried over from many generations ago? I'll be honest with you, I think it is.
Finn dAbuzz
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Aug, 2012 04:55 pm
@artsyWhispy,
I don't think your premise is strong enough to fully support the current social trend of a high rate of unwed pregnancies in the black community, but I've little doubt that the devastating effects of generations of slavery still factor into the dynamics of African-American society in many ways, and not just in terms of the issue you've raised.

There are plenty of black families who exhibit what we all would recognize as the essential fundamentals of a family unit, and it's virtually impossible that most of them do not have heritages traceable to the American culture of slavery.

The issue you've raised, tends largely, to be associated with blacks living in a lower economic strata. This doesn't mean that the African-American lawyer across the street can't have a daughter who gives birth to a child out of wedlock, but the trend is related to economics.

Some may argue that the disproportionate degree of poverty among blacks is a result of their heritage of slavery, and to some degree there is a direct link, but slavery ended more than 100 years ago. Not enough time to wipe away the caustic effect of an inhuman practice, but certainly enough to allow for intervening causes.

One such intervening cause was the creation of the welfare state at the very time when blacks were winning equal civil rights. A great way to hamstring the dynamic assertion of a people.



wmwcjr
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Aug, 2012 09:27 pm
@Finn dAbuzz,
Sadly, most of those who were opposed to the creation of the welfare state were also opposed to civil rights legislation and defended the injustices of Jim Crow, while most of those who supported civil rights were not concerned about potential welfare problems such as dependency. An American tragedy in the making.
Finn dAbuzz
 
  1  
Reply Thu 23 Aug, 2012 04:14 pm
@wmwcjr,
Essentially true, but are we bound forever by such unfortunate ironies?

It is now a half century since the major achievements of the civil rights movement and the birth of the American welfare state, and while those decades have clearly shown evidence of the benefits of the one and the detriments of the other and yet the public debate leads one to believe that time never passed.

The Civil Rights movement of 50 years ago was essential and noble in virtually every way, but there is an enormous collection of people who want to ride the high, co-opt the high and profit from the good done by others.

The Civil Rights Movement is now a trademarked business, which will move from one "victim" group to another in perpetuity. The travails of Gays in America can't even remotely be compared to those of blacks, never-the-less for "The Movement" they are now the poster children of Oppressive America.

At some point it will be difficult to sustain their victimhood and will "The Movement" then lay down their arms and go back to their farms?

Of course not.

There is power to be gained and money to be made in championing victims, and so historical victims, like blacks, will remain forever as victims, and new one's will be found.

Victims will never achieve equality because once they do, those who profit from The Movement will lose their profits.
wmwcjr
 
  1  
Reply Thu 23 Aug, 2012 09:46 pm
@Finn dAbuzz,
I’m glad you’ve chosen to remain here at A2K. I like your writing style; but more importantly, you show evidence of independent thinking (meaning you think for yourself), which is lacking in so many people. By the way, regarding the teacher controversy months ago, I wasn’t upset with you. I was just defending teachers, and I did agree with your response.

I’m basically in agreement with you here as well.

One of the problems with the political culture of this country is the fact that independent thinking is discouraged. Both liberals and conservatives have their own party lines and will not tolerate any deviation from them. Seems to me neither side is ever willing to admit they’re been wrong about anything. Sad to say, I don’t see any indication that this is going to change soon. Not that I recommend that anyone else do the same, I’ve given up on politics.

The problem with being a victim, either in reality or in one’s own mind, is that the role of a victim can end up being quite demeaning. I believe in empowering victims. For example, I have a great deal of sympathy for victims of school bullying and believe that bullying is contemptible. (I experienced my share when I was a kid.) But at the same time, I believe victims should be empowered whenever possible. A victim can gain self-esteem if he learns how to deal with his unfortunate situation.

For example, a boy may become a victim of bullying because he lacks self-confidence. I strongly believe that school bullies are often attracted to classmates lacking self-confidence just as sharks are attracted to blood in the water. (I’m not saying this is always the dynamic at play, but I bet it’s common.) I’m not blaming the victim here, far from it; the bully is still personally responsible for his misconduct. But once the bullied kid is aware of what the problem is, then he should find out what he can do to build up his self-confidence and do what he needs to do (for example, possibly take boxing lessons not for the purpose of participating in competitive matches, but for the purpose of aggressively defending himself).

Sorry I got way off track. The point is that being a victim over a long period of time can often have an adverse effect in terms of being able to function as a competent individual in society. Being a victim over an extended period of time can rob a person of needed self-respect. In other words, there should not be an invested interest in keeping people in the victim role.

I probably sound a bit trite, but I wanted to respond to your post before another day goes by. Sorry I’m not expressing my thoughts well. I’m just very tired.
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