Five young black contributors to YO! Youth Outlook Multimedia respond to the apology.
Where's the 40 Acres?
This week, the U.S. House of Representatives made a "historic milestone" and formally apologized for slavery and Jim Crow. Am I supposed to be thrilled? However noble of an initiative, to give an unprecedented apology after so many years past and acknowledge the “lingering consequences of he misdeeds committed against African-Americans under slavery and Jim Crow”, I’m unimpressed. Not that I’m one of those grudge holding Blacks who believes that no matter what “The Man” says, it’s all bull and America can never rectify the damage done by sla- AH! Let’s face it, I am.
In all seriousness, as a fervent studier of history, and an advocate for civil rights this apology, again however noble, holds no substance and is not something I would hang up on my Black History Month timeline.
Now if this apology included some land (about 40 acres and a mule to be exact) then I might be a little moved, maybe even impressed. I mean can a sista get some affirmative action at least?
- Jazmyne, 19
I feel that it’s too late to say sorry because the blow has already been dealt. And so many people have died and a lot of blood has been shed. If anything, we want blood. We want revenge. We want our black leaders, the ones that were assassinated, back. The ones they took for nothing. But a lot of people don’t think like that … how they trying to say sorry? They kidnapped us. They made us unlearn our ways, just to learn theirs. They’re the reason we don’t know our language and why we’re in the ghettos, cause they believe we are not equal, so I say they can’t say sorry. They can’t say sorry for making my people picking cotton for them and making us use different water fountains because of our color, and holding us in ships and killing the old and brainwashing the young. There is too much pain for an apology, too much hate in the heart for forgiveness, nothing but emptiness for them white folks – not all – just the racist ones. I wish I could have been in those days. I would have fought back and gave my life for a better cause.
- Jerome, 19
Won't Accept It
I personally don’t know if I should accept the apology, because it is very late, but they say it’s better late then never. I know it took a lot for Congressman Cohen to do this, but I really don’t care. African Americans should have gotten an apology a long time ago. In a way I feel, he is only doing this because an African American man is so close to taking office. He might just want Obama to feel that he’s safe if he takes office. But this doesn’t mean anything, because – as an African American – I still feel the pain of my ancestors.
Why would you wait so late to do something that should have been done so long ago? Do you feel that when you made the apology, we were just going to forget everything that was done to us? There is still racism in this world and just because you apologize doesn’t mean everything is going to go away. Maybe one day I will be able to accept this apology but, for now, I can’t. We are only getting this because African Americans are beginning to rise above what people thought we could do.
- Jockuela, 17
A Little Too Late
I read about how this Congressman is now trying to apologize to African Americans for slavery. It’s a little too late for that. How come they apologized to the Japanese Americans during World War II, but they have not yet apologized to African Americans. I think that it’s a little too late to apologize to African Americans for slavery. It’s been over 200 years and all of a sudden we get an apology? They stated that only a great country can recognize and admit to its mistakes. It took them over 200 years to recognize and admit to what they did. Wow, thanks but no thanks. It’s a little too late.
- Melshawnda, 17
This is Disrespectful
How I feel about Congress apologizing about slavery is that it's really disrespectful to all African Americans. It took years for slavery to stop and now it's 2008, and they finally want to say something and it's all wrong. As a young black male, it really irritates me. It's too late, too many civil rights leaders died over this. Jim Crow laws lasted for 246 years and people followed them. I think that Congress should save their apology and let it be what it is. They can't apologize for stuff they did. The only reason I think there's an apology because African Americans are coming up in the world.
- Christopher, 20
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YO! Youth Outlook is an award-winning literary journal of youth life in the Bay Area. Featuring in-depth reporting pieces and first-person essays, comic strips and poetry pages, YO! is the communication outlet for youth who feel their voice and visions need to be seen and heard. YO! is a bridge to the world of youth expression.
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