Congress Apologizes For Slavery: So What? Now What (Guest Post)

by Maco L. Faniel

Breaking news! Congress apologizes for slavery!

Yes, I said it right! Last week the U.S. House of Representatives issued what has been called an “unprecedented” apology for the institution of slavery and for the subsequent Jim Crow laws.

OK, Clap for a minute and do the Roger Rabbit. I’ll wait.

Your minute is up now.

Now to my analysis of this apology. SO WHAT! It’s great that congress can say “we are sorry” for an institution that many of them benefited from. But what does this apology really mean, what does it do?

More after the jump.

Does this apology right the economic disparities between Blacks and Whites?

Does this apology right the education disparities between Blacks and Whites?

Does this apology right the disproportionate number of Black males incarcerated?

Does this apology right the health care problems that exist among Blacks?

Does this apology even do anything for deep rooted thoughts of privilege and racism?

I THINK NOT. So, what in the HELL is the apology for?

To pacify Blacks?

The United States government and Corporate America are well aware of the ravaging effects of slavery and Jim Crow. That is why we have diversity, affirmative action, and why we had the Kerner Commisson and the Moynihan Report. The Kerner Commissino and the Moynihan Report researched the effects of enslavement, slavery, and Jim Crow and basically said that had it not been for slavery Blacks would be in a very different situation in the United States.

So this freaking apology is not an acknowledgement that the U.S. government did something wrong, they already knew that, to me it is a resolution full of rhetoric that does nothing to change the present moment.

It’s kind of like a man who has been beating his wife for years because he is weak and wants to exert fear over his wife. He beats her into submission, tells her that she is nothing, controls her money, makes sure she does not know how to get on Facebook, and rapes her every night. He knows what the hell he is doing, because he can see the fear in her eyes and she has tried to runaway numerous times. After years of kicking her ass, he apologizes, but he never changes and he never gives her back what he stole. So, she is twice victimized: first by the domestic abuse second by not having the opportunity to become an active participant in the marriage.


Either the creators of this resolution are setting the stage for reparations, or this is just some smoke that the Congress is blowing up our anuses.

I am not sure if true reparations (economic repair for what was done wrong) are the answer. But slavery was an economic institution that benefited the ruling class and their descendants for generations and also served as the detriment to the slaves and their descendants.

Yes, I am presenting a cosmological argument. Because of enslavement, slavery, and Jim Crow we now have….(You fill in the blank.)

No, I am not arguing against personal responsibility for Blacks, BUT DAMN, patronage and privilege have benefited whites for years.

So, if not true reparations, then what? If no policy to right the policy that created current conditions, then what?

For it was policy that was signed by colonical governments to initiate enslavement, it was policy that was signed to condone and continue slavery, it was policy that overturned reconstruction policy, and it was policy that created Jim Crow laws.

Why not policy that truly addresses the economic disparities between Blacks and Whites?

Why not policy that rights the education disparities between Blacks and Whites?

Why not policy that rights the disproportionate number of Black males incarcerated?

Why not policy that provides universal health care and preventative health care?

If there are no policies (action) that follow this apology, then the apology is in vain, and HELL I DON’T WANT IT.

Copyright © 2004-2009 Maco L. Faniel. All rights reserved.


Maco L. Faniel is a writer who focuses on theology, politics, pop culture and positive mental thought on his blogs Infinite Conceptions and Maco Faniel.

16 thoughts on “Congress Apologizes For Slavery: So What? Now What (Guest Post)

  1. What the apology is and will always be is symbolic. Nothing more than that. I hear you on the need for actions but I actually don’t think it’s possible to have actions follow this apology. The problem is that a lot of the inequalities you refer to now are not just Black-White disparities, they’re Rich-Poor. Take education for example. America claims to have free public education but the reality is that we pay for education and buy our way into the best schools with a mortgage. Most of the education disparity between whites and blacks is accounted for by the fact that a greater share of us live in poorer, mostly urban areas with underfunded schools. Ditto healthcare. It’s too late for 40 acres and a mule. The best we can do now is fight for public policy (better public education, universal healthcare, reformed drug laws, etc.) that will lift all tides but especially help black folks. ———————-, health & wellness for young black women

  2. I’ve always thought that descendants of Slaves ought to get some sort of tax break as reparations. That would be a simple way of paying it and it would encourage African Americans to make as much money as possible. Also said tax break ought to last exactly as long as Slavery was legal in this country.

  3. As Darth Vader said, "Apology accepted." But he really didn’t mean it though. Hee, hee.

  4. Maybe now we can move on…not.Has Africa issued an apology yet for its role in the slave trade?

  5. i think its a good symbolic gesture, but it doesnt mean much if its not followed up by policies. it should be a starting point at adressing the disparities between black and white communities and looking into measures to help solve them. i think we as human beings generally do rely heavily on symbolism, its in our nature…and from that point of view, i think its a welcome step. but you’re right in that it wont achieve anything if it doesnt come hand in hand with practical measures..

  6. To me it’s just more of the same. All of a sudden there is a black president and they can’t ignore the elephant in the room anymore so let’s make a huge symbolic gesture… then get back to business as usual.

  7. Sorry is as sorry does.Maco,Could you tell me where you got the photo and some info about it? Thanks.

  8. @ NonaThe photo is actually mine. It’s from a historical collection I keep and I believe it is of a group of Arabs holding black slaves for market in Zanzibar. I don’t know the year, but it’s probably the early 1900s around WWI. It wasn’t historically apropos, but I liked the image and the sadness that it conveys. It also shows that the slave trade has thrived (and is still thriving) even though the Trans-Atlantic slave trade is essentially dead.

  9. What’s the point of apologising for slavery when slave owners like the so called "Founding Fathers" and their ilk are venerated? Their faces placed on bank notes. Their statues – even the founder the KKK – everywhere. A constitution that allows slavery is lauded as the template of liberty and lauded as if almost handed down direct from heaven. Only after the fundamental hypocrisy at core of American history has been demolished can the thought of an real apology be addressed.

  10. An apology is not repentance – repentance requires an ACTIVE change of direction. I think "we" should be asking for repentance…Nonya said:"Has Africa issued an apology yet for its role in the slave trade?"Africa is not a country… and the exploitation practiced upon the people, especially in West Africa, by other people in West Africa was truly exploitative, but not in the overall systematic type that Europeans perpetuated throughout the Western Hemisphere and benefited from for generations to come. The slave trade had detrimental effects on the continent of Africa that still exist to this day as well.And then, why is that the argument often given? I’ve heard that many times: "Well, Africans are just as responsible for slavery as Europeans…" Really? Seriously, what is the perspective/historical evidence there? It is deflective and distracting, trivializes the goals and outcomes of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, and ignores the power dynamics within this historical event (who had the power in all of this???).

  11. Dear Ms. Belton, I really like this post. Your invective is insightful and smart. As Congress has recently offered an apology to Natives, I am writing a piece about that, at my web journal,, about this. In so doing, I will refer to your posting and the slavery context.Be well,Will Wright || public media stories focused on politics, the media arts, and ethnicity. | Wright’s Words start conversations…

  12. That photo is STUNNING. It evokes intense grief especially the deplorable conditions of the slaves themselves.Thanks for you for sharing the photo and your excellent article.

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