Monday, October 03, 2005

"Demanding an Apology": Reparations, Impotence and Strategies for Dealing with White Supremacy.

I get a little tired of Black leaders "demanding an apology" immediately after racist remarks are made by white supremacists like Bill Bennett did last week. His recommendation that aborting Black babies could reduce the crime rate, was immediately met by Black leaders "demanding and apology" for his words.

So what if Bennett does apologize? So what? He says I'm sorry, like Trent Lott did a couple of years ago when he gave infamous praise to now deceased white supremacist Strom Thurmond. Nothing happened. Oh, sure Lott lost his job as Senate Majority leader, but nothing really happened to change anything. It's like the "demand for an apology" is the end game and for me it reeks with as a hollow victory in the struggle against white supremacy.

And what if Bennett doesn't apologize for his remarks? We can do nothing about it. Bennett ignores Black leadership and they can only harangue him. He won't get invited to the next annual gathering of the NAACP, but again, as Miles Davis said, "So What?" In my opinion I think "demanding an apology" and nothing else is a sign of political impotence and does not force the offender to actually do something about the offense. Increasingly, I feel that the reparations movement must address this issue; corporations such as Lehman Brothers, Wachovia and JP Morgan have apologized for their slaveholding past, but have done little to atone for their crimes.

This is one reason why reparations for enslavement must be firmly anchored in atonement and forgiveness as Roy Brooks says in his brilliant book by the same name. Civil rights leadership can learn lessons on justice from reparations activists who want both. It is not enough to "demand an apology" from someone for a crime against humanity, but one must make also demand atonement for that crime.

We'll see what Bennett does (not much I suspect), and hopefully we'll see Black leaders doing more than just "demanding an apology" from the next white supremacist who uses coded language for genocide against Afrikan babies.

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