Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Jim Crow Apology? Could Reparations Be Next!?!

So, Conservative radio is all in a tizzy today about Congress' apology for slavery. You'd think the sky was falling, and Negroes were about to stage some sorta coup.

The House of Representatives on Tuesday passed a resolution apologizing to African-Americans for slavery and the era of Jim Crow.

The nonbinding resolution, which passed on a voice vote, was introduced by Rep. Steve Cohen, a white lawmaker who represents a majority black district in Memphis, Tennessee. While many states have apologized for slavery, it is the first time a branch of the federal government has done so, an aide to Cohen said.

In passing the resolution, the House also acknowledged the "injustice, cruelty, brutality and inhumanity of slavery and Jim Crow."

"Jim Crow," or Jim Crow laws, were state and local laws enacted mostly in the Southern and border states of the United States between the 1870s and 1965, when African-Americans were denied the right to vote and other civil liberties and were legally segregated from whites.

The resolution does not address the controversial issue of reparations. Some members of the African-American community have called on lawmakers to give cash payments or other financial benefits to descendants of slaves as compensation for the suffering caused by slavery.
Cohen, just in case you're wondering, succeeded Harold Ford in TN, and is up for re-election this year. So, yeah, there's prolly some political trickery going on here. This resolution is little more than a symbolic gesture. But ultimately it's little more than words. It won't change anything.

I can only surmise that much of the fear and controversy here is people assuming that reparations can't be far behind. You and I both know that unless black people controlled every single seat in the House and Senate, plus the White House, that could never happen. And it will never happen. And I'll go one step further and say it should never happen.

Reparations for slavery won't solve any of Black America's real problems. It is the root of many of them (self hatred, disconnected families, deepseated anger), but it won't solve any.

If Congress wanted to put some weight behind this calculated apology, they could do something to rectify the way schools are funded. There's no reason why inner city schools are literally crumbling[1], but those in the burbs (like where I live) are brand spankin' new. That sole inequality (tying school funding to the local tax base) is one huge issue they could tackle if so moved. But this will never happen of course.

Today, America's real racial problem is white privilege, something whites have the privilege of not even knowing it exists. I'd like to see some sorta apology and call to action for this. Of course, I'm not holding my breath.

Question: What do you think of Congress' apology for slavery and Jim Crow? What's your general feeling about reparations?

House apologizes for slavery, 'Jim Crow' injustices [CNN]

[1] And yes, I know, DC has the highest per-pupil funding rate in the country. But you and I both know that money never makes it to the schools themselves.

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