The United States House of Representatives has issued an apology for slavery and Jim Crow.
Congress has issued apologies before — to Japanese-Americans for their internment during World War II and to native Hawaiians for the overthrow of the Hawaiian kingdom in 1893. In 2005, the Senate apologized for failing to pass anti-lynching laws.
Five states have issued apologies for slavery, but past proposals in Congress have stalled, partly over concerns that an apology would lead to demands for reparations — payment for damages.
The Cohen resolution does not mention reparations. It does commit the House to rectifying “the lingering consequences of the misdeeds committed against African-Americans under slavery and Jim Crow.”
Here is my problem with this apology. It states that “slavery and Jim Crow are stains upon the what is the greatest nation on earth and the greatest government ever conceived by man.” While I appreciate the effort Representative Cohen, that just does not even come close to capturing it.
White supremacy is not a stain on the fabric of the nation, it is the binding thread woven into America’s fabric. Slavery was not an accidental oversight that simply took another few decades to fix; slavery cleared the virgin forests of the South and made them arable land; slavery was the basis of the new nation’s international trade; slavery made profit possible; slavery enriched millions of white Americans through its intergenerational transmission of ill gotten gains. Agricultural bondage through sharecropping kept blacks effectively re-enslaved in the South until the middle of the 20th century. A system of convict leasing turned black men into free labor for Northern industries well into the 1950s, making their massive profits possible. Medical experimentation on black bodies served as the basis for the growth of modern medicine and pharmaceuticals. Slavery, Jim Crow, and white supremacy are what made the greatness of America possible for so many others. It is not the stain on America. It is America.
Can’t really add much to that, can I? Make sure to read her whole post. NPR also has the story.