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“Oooh! — Sorry About that Slavery Thing!”


Several days ago, a majority of the U.S. House of Representatives approved a resolution apologizing for slavery.  The Senate has not yet moved on such a measure, and probably has no intention to do so.

 

That it comes today, some 143 years after slavery was prohibited in the Constitution (notice I said ‘prohibited’, and not stopped, for historians and scholars have uncovered that the trade continued long thereafter, as an underground one, kind of like drugs today), gives us some idea of how deeply slavery still resides in American consciousness, and how empty such an apology is in light of all that has intervened in the century and a half since the cessation of the Civil War.

 

It’s like robbing someone, growing fat and rich on stolen wealth, and then passing that person on the street, who is now homeless, destitute and starving-and tossing him a nickel. (Except, of course, in the case of the U.S. House resolution, there isn’t even a nickel!).

 

As the great Black historian, J. A. Rogers taught us (especially in his Africa’s Gift to America (1961) the wealth of America was founded on African slavery.  One need look no further than the brilliant young W.E.B. DuBois, who published his doctoral thesis, The Suppression of the African Slave Trade to the United States of America: 1638-1870 (1896).For, citing contemporary sources, DuBois quoted the following: "The number of persons engaged in the slave – trade, and the amount of capital embarked on it, exceed our powers of calculation.  The city of New York has been until of late (1862) the principal port of the world for this infamous trade…" (p. 179).

 

Centuries of slavery, the intentional destruction of families, tribes, and nations; ripping people asunder from their religions, their clans, their spouses, children, lands and all that they knew and loved-for centuries-to build and enrich a nation of strangers-who enforced the practices of slavery for a hundred years after it’s supposed abolition; only to consign the grandchildren of these people to the bitter half-lives of sub-par education, poor housing, second rate health care, under/employment, the cruelties of mass incarceration and a cynical judicial and political system that endlessly engages in white supremacy (without the labels)….

 

Yeah, a political apology should just about cover that.

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