What Georgia House Speaker Richardson should apologize for - 3.9.2007.1
Well here is a surprise and a disappointment all at once. The surprise comes from the fact that a Georgia lawmaker, Rep. Tyrone Brooks, has made a proposal for the state to apologize for slavery. Finally there is a renewed effort to make some kind of reparation for the centuries of abuse and mistreatment that was inflicted on African Americans. More importantly this is a real statement unlike the “regret” voiced by Virginia, The disappointment comes from the statements “I'm not sure what we ought to be apologizing for” voiced by Georgia House Speaker Glenn Richardson and others.
This is a sore subject for me. Ignorance and a refusal to acknowledge the factual past is infuriating. It is the main causes of why an apology at the least has never been made by the United States government to the millions of African Americans who’s ancestors were forcibly brought to this nation and treated worse than livestock. I am not alone in my thoughts in this issue, nor is it a new one. Perhaps the first call for reparations was in 1829, and there have been continuous efforts in the 178 years since that time.
Let me address the stupidity of the statements made by Speaker Richardson, and others including Mr. Frank Hargrove of Virginia. The argument goes that Americans today did nothing, and have no connection, involved with Slavery. This is the most obvious and persistent fallicy since perhaps ‘the world is flat’ or ‘the universe circles the earth.’
The fact is that since 1619 to 1865 African Americans were slaves. Those slaves were forced to work in plantations and fields, providing America with cotton, tobacco, and food crops, that created an economy that rivaled any nation in the world at that time. The economic power of the nation allowed the foundation of the nation to be formed and built upon. During this time slaves were used to also build the cities, roads, railroads and other forms of infrastructure that the nation grew upon. Without the efforts forced to be done over this 246 year period nothing that exists today would exist. That is a fact. It cannot be disputed.
The connection is obviously that without the unpaid, forced, demeaning work done by African slaves there would be no internet, highways, tobacco companies, skyscrapers, stock market, 37 states, or anything else we call America today. Everyone in this nation benefits from the 246 years that slavery existed in America and are thus connected to it. This is not a new view of causation or reasonable consequences. Similar arguments have been made and accepted in regard to the treatment of Native American Indians. Not only did they receive an apology various tribes have been given lands that are separate of U.S. jurisdiction and many visit the casinos on Indian reservations based on reparations to Native American Indians. Similar arguments were made against Germany and Switzerland in regard to their actions to the Holocaust, and both countries have made apologies and reparations long after the time of those that committed the acts. And we should not forget the apology and reparations made to the families of those Japanese Americans that were interred in camps during WWII. Again, these are facts. They cannot be disputed.
So in the first place, what we should be apologizing for (to answer Speaker Richardson and other of his mindset) is the labor, deaths, treatment and abduction of unknown millions of Africans over 246 years. I say unknown because while there are estimates that claim 4 million were slaves, records of African slaves were not accurately kept since they were considered on par with chairs. Those that do not wish to apologize should give up their houses, cars, clothes and money as each item they have and use that was created or exists in this nation is without question connected to the efforts made in the past, just as every law and right we have in this nation is connected to the Constitution and the American Revolution. That is a fact. It cannot be disputed.
Continued in part 2...