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Slavery: Regrets Only

A Prince George's County lawmaker introduced a resolution yesterday that offers an apology from Maryland for the state's role in the slave trade.

Sen. Nathaniel Exum (D), sponsored the resolution, which expresses "regret for the role that Maryland played in instituting and maintaining slavery and for the discrimination that was slavery's legacy."

Slavery was part of the culture in Maryland until 1864.

Exum said yesterday he hopes the resolution will be approved this year. A similar resolution, which the lawmaker introduced last year, was approved by the Senate but never made it out of the House.

"I think the [Legislative] Black Caucus is going to take a position this year, and those over there are going to work it more," Exum said.

Exum added that he thinks the recent unanimous House vote in the Virginia General Assembly should spur action in Maryland. Last week, the Virginia House approved a resolution expressing "profound regret" for Virginia's involvement in slavery.

Last year's measure in Maryland called for reparations, Exum said, but the provision was removed in committee. The resolution passed the Senate without the mention of reparations, and Exum said he mistakenly thought it would sail through the House.

Exum said he is beginning with the resolution that he ended with last session -- one that offers regrets without reparations.

"I plan to spend a lot more time on this and make sure it passes," he said.

-- Ovetta Wiggins

By Phyllis Jordan  |  February 8, 2007; 6:49 AM ET
Categories:  General Assembly  
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Comments

This has nothing to do with slavery and everything to do with playing to the Baltimore slums.

Posted by: BiffGriff | February 8, 2007 8:15 AM | Report abuse

BiffGriff:

So, there aren't African Americans outside of Baltimore? What part of MD do you live in? I have many friends, who happen to be Black, with roots in Maryland that come from educated families with professional jobs. I'm sure they would welcome an expression of regret as much as those in Baltimore.

Posted by: NoSlum | February 8, 2007 8:22 AM | Report abuse

Wait a second, why should I be forced to pay a single dime for reparations for something that was stopped a century before I was born? And why should people several generations removed from the wrongdoing be given my tax money?

Posted by: Rufus | February 8, 2007 8:28 AM | Report abuse

Why don't they have Africa apologize to them for selling them as slaves?? If anyone cares to recall, slaves were sold by their own (usually tribal chiefs).

Posted by: ilc | February 8, 2007 8:33 AM | Report abuse

Right! Or how about the fact I lost family in the Civil War fighting for blacks' freedom! Where's my apology for THAT?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 8, 2007 8:34 AM | Report abuse

Rufus, why do you bother? Everything you write can be boiled down to the same thing:

"If there's nothing in it for me, I don't want to hear about it. If you want something from me, go to hell."

Great public policy there, Ruf. Maybe you can make a campaign slogan out of it in 2010.

"All for me, me for . . . . me."

Conservatism in a nutshell.

Posted by: Rufus Defined | February 8, 2007 8:37 AM | Report abuse

This is the wrong thing to do. Neither an apology nor reparations are due for something - the slavery - that ended more than a hundred years ago as a consequence of a civil war than destroyed as many whites as blacks lives. Slavery through history was part of the economic model predating the industrial revolution, and both whites and blacks were to suffer it right from the beginning of civilization. That some elected officials are wasting their time and out tax dollars in this exercise in futility is regretable at best. This move is not about the morality of slavery - because there are many more important and current issues involving the role of the government and the state in the lives of Americans requiring of an intelligent review of our moral values -, this move is about economics: wealth distribution, exactly the same issue that prompted slavery in the first place and that ended it at last.

Posted by: jaime figueras | February 8, 2007 8:50 AM | Report abuse

Rufus:

If you read closely, you'd notice that the bill has nothing to do with reparations, just regret. I think most would agree that a reparations bill is DOA.

ilc:

You know your history. Great! However that doesn't absolve the nation or the state of the sin of America's institution of slavery.

Anon:

If you knew your history, you would know that Blacks had no power to start or stop a civil war at that time. Blame White people for that one. I'm sure there is some day set aside for people who fought and died in the civil war...say Memorial Day....or Veteran's Day....

Posted by: NoSlum | February 8, 2007 8:52 AM | Report abuse

Jaime:

I agree, the legislature could use its time (and our tax dollars) on something more meaningful. I agree with the sprit of the bill but it is likely getting publicity because its Black History month. However I don't understand your comment re: the economic implications of the bill. How does wealth distribution tie into an expression of regret?

Posted by: NoSlum | February 8, 2007 9:12 AM | Report abuse

More appropriate would be an apology and reparations from these folks for squandering their time and my money on pointless feel-good legislation. I am alive to receive it.

Posted by: gitarre | February 8, 2007 9:17 AM | Report abuse

Jaime, your comments, and those made by Rufus and ilc, are exactly why symbolic gestures like this bill and others need to be made and will continue to be made. Sure you recognize how horrible slavery was not just here but around the world, but until you open your eyes and see its lasting impact on our society today we can never truly solve the myrid of social problems that face us such as wealth distribution.

Posted by: Jack | February 8, 2007 9:24 AM | Report abuse

At some point in time you have to move on. Are we still going to be talking about this 50 years from now? Why don't you try to make the world a better place instead of living in the past? I had nothing to do with slavery; in fact, half of my ancestors starved to death during the potato famine and had to fight for the right to have a religion, a language, and a country. Does that mean that I am owed something? No, it didn't happen to me and it didn't happen to any of you. Grow up and get on with your life. No one is going to give you anything, you have to take it.

Posted by: Irish chick | February 8, 2007 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Has someone forgotten that discrimination in such things as going to college, getting loans, and moving up the job chain are things that come from that history?
These are things that happened in our lifetime and some of which still happen, they just don't happen out loud.
Regrets is a start. Reparations?
I'm not sure they are truly possible.

Posted by: Deana | February 8, 2007 9:29 AM | Report abuse

Ovetta Wiggins writes sloppily, ** Slavery was part of the culture in Maryland until the Civil War. ** PART OF THE CULTURE? UNTIL THE CIVIL WAR? No Ovetta, it was not ** part of the culture, ** it was ** legal. ** What is this, a junior high pop-psychology essay? Try a bit more precision: ** Slavery was legal in colonial America and in the state of Maryland until a new state constitution took effect on Nov. 1, 1864. **

Posted by: Mediaskeptic | February 8, 2007 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Has someone forgotten that discrimination in such things as going to college, getting loans, and moving up the job chain are things that come from that history?


This is still going on now, except in reverse, but I don't see you crying about the injustice of that.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 8, 2007 9:37 AM | Report abuse

useless exercise

Posted by: Anonymous | February 8, 2007 10:01 AM | Report abuse

To Rufus Defined, what you've done is outlined the liberal view point on this, ie. "What can my country do for me."

Reparations TAKE away from me WITHOUT cause. Recognizing that as tyranny is common sense. Opposing tyranny is conservatism in a nutshell.

No Slum, yes I know they aren't trying reparations this time. Just wait.

Posted by: Rufus | February 8, 2007 10:11 AM | Report abuse

EXUM needs to GET OVER IT, he was elected to office to do something constructive, this is a waste of time, we had nothing to do with the slaves, and we owe the black community nothing, the get enough already, lets just get over it and get on with things. i hope i have time to vote again, because i know of one person that i wont be voting for. such a waste of tax payers money.

Posted by: Plemnah | February 8, 2007 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Did Germany merely express regrets about Hitler's Final Solution? Was that enough? do we have any museums on the Mall in DC dedicated to showing the evils of slavery like we do showing the evils of a genocide with which the US had nothing to do? Or are some groups more entitled to reparations and remembrance than others?

Posted by: Garak | February 8, 2007 10:24 AM | Report abuse

2008 draws near and the frenetic pandering is now in full swing. Since I was born about a century after the Civil War ended I hope that I won't have to shell out money yet again for something I didn't do. Even a hundred years ago my family was poor and toiled along side black slaves in the fields. These panderings ensure the hate and resentment will continue for another century and I wonder how many blacks have figured that out.

Posted by: voter without true choices | February 8, 2007 10:26 AM | Report abuse

The hypocrisy on this blog by some of our more conservative friends is just becoming funny.

Two days ago, when there was a post concerning Del. Ali's consumer protection legislation dealing with store discount cards, all of the comments against it struck of yet another attempt by "liberal" legislators once again creating more legislation that burdens people, businesses, yatta, yatta, yatta.

Now, with Senator Exum submitting legislation concerning voicing regret for a horrible act that was commonplace in our state just over 100 years ago (a drop in the bucket of time) that will have absolutely NO EFFECT on anyone who was not touched by this, there is a cry on this board of "why are you wasting time, do something productive."

Productive like what - pass consumer protection legislation?

You can't have it both ways - do nothing or do something, and you still complain.

The reality is that this has nothing to do with protecting consumers or voicing regret for the state's paricipation in slavery.

It has everything to do with the fact that there are readers of this board that don't like Democrats. And any time a Democrat submits any kind of legislation, people like Rufus, and BG from PG, and their ilk, are going to complain about it.

So, how about take some of your own advise fellas, and go do something productive.

Posted by: mdhawk | February 8, 2007 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Rufus,

The expense to come up with an amount for reparations alone would eliminate the possibility of having reparations. It would take too much time and money to figure out who should get them and how. That is another reason reparations bills are DOA. An expression of regret is an inexpensive, feel-good measure, but its a start.

Irish chick:

I feel bad about your ancestors and what they endured in Ireland. Should someone in Ireland ask the appropriate legislative body to issue some form regret, would you be opposed to that too?

Plemnah:

When you say "we owe the Black community nothing" which "we" are you talking about?

Deana:

You've got it! Until people stop ignoring that racism still exists (or even that they have racist opinions) there will not be equal opportunity for anyone of any ethnic descent.

Voter...:

Yes, your people may have toiled with Black people but not slaves since 100 years ago they would have been called sharecroppers. However, with a bath, suit and good haircut they would be able to achieve a certain amount of success in life because there were no Jim Crow laws holding them back. You fail to see how slavery in America had tainted race relations and until someone can admit that they regret it, resentment will continue.

Posted by: NoSlum | February 8, 2007 11:09 AM | Report abuse

This issue was settled by the Civil War. That was the apology. What if the South had won?

Posted by: Ross | February 8, 2007 11:13 AM | Report abuse

I think some of the posters here need to make the distinction between a personal apology and an institutional one. No, you didn't own slaves, and you aren't apologizing. The institution of Maryland did perpetuate slavery, and an apology from that institution is perfectly appropriate, and long overdue.

I strongly disagree that this legislation is "pointless," "pandering," or merely a "feel-good" waste. Slavery is not something that we can sweep under the rug of The Past--no one can logically argue that the painful effects of slavery aren't still being felt today. Consider the effect of an institutional admission of wrongdoing on a society's view of that wrongdoing. Compare, for example, Germany and Austria. Germany has publicly repented for the Holocaust, and has spent the decades since WWII openly examining its role in that attempted genocide. (Why? After all, it was "in the past"?) Austria, on the other hand, has taken no such steps. Guess which country has elected former SS officers into modern public offices? Guess which country still experiences the most rampant anti-Semitism?

Institutional public apologies for slavery do not exist only to soothe the angry black community. They exist to help ensure that our society is one that reflects on our past with an objective eye, acknowledges our worst moments and works diligently to ameliorate the effects of our "mistakes." In other words, they exist to make our ENTIRE society better. Not exactly a waste of my legislature's time.

Posted by: JS | February 8, 2007 11:20 AM | Report abuse

From reading these comments, I personally don't want Maryland to apologize or express regret for anything. It would be an empty gesture. Clearly White American doesn't regret a damn thing except that it is socially unacceptable to wear their hoods in public.

Posted by: Tisha | February 8, 2007 11:22 AM | Report abuse

"This issue was settled by the Civil War. That was the apology. What if the South had won?"

So the "apology" for the Holocaust was the defeat of Germany? The "apology" for the Native Americans was...casinos? The "apology" for a rape is the arrest of the rapist?

Posted by: JS | February 8, 2007 11:25 AM | Report abuse

JS: well said.

Posted by: NoSlum | February 8, 2007 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Slavery is a very emotional issue. Both sides of the debate have valid points. I personally would like to hear an apology for the Jim Crow years, that to this day, we are just getting over. For the White people that say that they had nothing to do with Jim Crow, you might not of actually experienced it, but you are reaping the benefits of it. You and your relatives still and will always have the advantage of your SKIN COLOR, to get better loans, housing, etc.

Posted by: BIG WILL | February 8, 2007 11:46 AM | Report abuse

I was going to write a long diatribe, but I see that JS said what I was going to. And probably did so better.

Posted by: corbett | February 8, 2007 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Irish chick:

Wow, your ancestors had to fight for the right to have a religion, a language, and a country. I think if it has affected you that bad, you need to take that up with the UK. This is a US issues. I guess actually you need to thank the US for allowing half of your ancestors to immigrate here and take jobs from blacks. Oh how do we forget that blacks lost countless jobs thanks to the scores of Irish and other Europeans that immigrated to the US in the 19th and 20th centuries!

You make your sorry argument I guess to justify your sorry views and it still doesn't provide no real validation for your logic. You cannot compare your ancestors fighting for a right to the enslavement of various groups of people who descendants may never find their true identity. You can times the rights that your ancestors had to fight for by a hundred and it will still not equate to the amount of African culture that blacks have lost. Scores or languages and religious practices that the descendants of African slaves will never know and no group of people that we can truly say we are descended from. Only the broad term African that we have to own since we cannot truly call out a tribe. Your ancestors fighting for an identity just doesn't compare.

At the end of the day, this issue is so much bigger than slavery and the majority of the US population, including yourself, are descended from people who have benefited and continue to benefit from the oppression of blacks (whether through slavery or its linger effects). An apology is the least that this country can offer for the inhumane institution that has put the foundation down to make the US the most powerful nation in the world.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 8, 2007 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Irish chick:

Wow, your ancestors had to fight for the right to have a religion, a language, and a country. I think if it has affected you that bad, you need to take that up with the UK. This is a US issues. I guess actually you need to thank the US for allowing half of your ancestors to immigrate here and take jobs from blacks. Oh how do we forget that blacks lost countless jobs thanks to the scores of Irish and other Europeans that immigrated to the US in the 19th and 20th centuries!

You make your sorry argument I guess to justify your sorry views and it still doesn't provide no real validation for your logic. You cannot compare your ancestors fighting for a right to the enslavement of various groups of people who descendants may never find their true identity. You can times the rights that your ancestors had to fight for by a hundred and it will still not equate to the amount of African culture that blacks have lost. Scores or languages and religious practices that the descendants of African slaves will never know and no group of people that we can truly say we are descended from. Only the broad term African that we have to own since we cannot truly call out a tribe. Your ancestors fighting for an identity just doesn't compare.

At the end of the day, this issue is so much bigger than slavery and the majority of the US population, including yourself, are descended from people who have benefited and continue to benefit from the oppression of blacks (whether through slavery or its linger effects). An apology is the least that this country can offer for the inhumane institution that has put the foundation down to make the US the most powerful nation in the world.

Posted by: DCReddz | February 8, 2007 12:18 PM | Report abuse

DCReddz,

It would be wise to speak from facts, not from emotions. What Irish Chick is saying is that many people have suffered intolerable treatment, not just blacks. But the Irish don't want apologies, they don't want regrets. Rather, they have accepted the past and moved on to make a better life for themselves. When the Irish got off the boats, they were either ushered right into the Civil War or were thrown into the streets and had to scrap to survive. The Irish were extremely poor and badly mistreated. But they fought back and NEVER looked for excuses and never wanted a thing given to them. They earned their keep - never wanting an apology. Slavery was a huge scar on the surface of this country, but it has provided the black community with many great opportunities that many fail to pursue. This isn't just me saying this, but many prominent black scholars have agreed that the black community is holding itself back, not an event that occured so long ago. Slavery brought many of your families here - from the sale by African tribal leaders to the sale by slave traders in the states. However it happened, you are now in the most developed country in the world. We have black CEO's, black authors, actors, directors, doctors, lawyers, highly touted government officials, a possible presidential candidate, designers, engineers. We have two black head coaches that just won the Super Bowl. I applaude them because they didn't ask for a single thing to be handed to them. They succeeded simply because they tried. They gave an effort, they gave a care. They realized the pain their ancestors went through and they chose not to seek an apology for them, but rather make their success a tribute and honor to them. The success and prominence of many blacks in this country is due to the fact that slavery brought them here. Even though the road was tough for their ancestors, I would find it difficult to believe that you wouldn't accept this life here in America versus being in Africa with the poverty levels most experience there. Slavery has given you a chance. The potato famine gave the Irish a chance. At some point in time, every group has suffered (whether race, religion, gender). Those tragic events do open doors. But if you prefer spending your time seeking apologies for those events rather than moving forward and entering those doors your ancestors suffered to make open - well, I guess you gave up. I'm sure that makes your ancestors feel real proud.

Posted by: Lunchtime | February 8, 2007 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Let's hope it doesn't take the Maryland General Assembly 144 years to express its profound regret for the Defense of Marriage Act.

To systematically deny state benefits for a select group of people is the same offense as befell slaves - denied rights due to some arbitrary and artificial impediment.

One hopes that the legislature can learn from it mistakes and not repeat such injustices, but it appears it can not so we must deal will bills like Senator Exum's.

Posted by: Sorry for Slavery Too | February 8, 2007 12:54 PM | Report abuse

With all due respect to Congressman Exxum, an apology from the State of Maryland is unnecesary and accomplishes nothing. He needs to spend his time worrying about what's out the windshield and stop focusing on the rear view mirror. As African Americans, we have many, many more important issues to deal with than this non-issue.

Posted by: man on the street | February 8, 2007 1:13 PM | Report abuse

"Slavery was a huge scar on the surface of this country, but it has provided the black community with many great opportunities that many fail to pursue."

Lunchtime: Are you for real? You must be "out to lunch" to try to rationalize that slavery was good for people of African descent. That's like saying, "You should be thankful you experienced (rape/murder/incest/violence/starvation, etc.) because it put you in a better position to acheive your goals." Blacks in America have made achievements IN SPITE of this, not as a result of this.

As for the Irish, yes they had it rough, most immigrants have, but at least they had the OPTION to immigrate, the OPTION to earn a living and a wage, fair or otherwise. African slaves built the colonies on free labor, no payment, poor living conditions, and no hope for freedom. I don't see anything wrong with the govt saying that they regret it happened.

Posted by: No Slum | February 8, 2007 1:18 PM | Report abuse

For one, no one is asking for a dime of your Confederate money, so just stop the whining about reparations. Secondly, Maryland was an enabler of slavery and discrimination before the United States was even formed. Maryland AS A STATE, not you as individuals (I didn't realize so many people were named State of Maryland), owes an apology for it's legacy of slavery. Don't you apologize when you do something wrong? As for an apology for the Irish or anyone else who came here voluntarily, you need to address that with your homeland. The African-American situation is unique in that we are the ONLY ethnic group that was brought here involuntarily and enslaved.

Posted by: noracists | February 8, 2007 1:28 PM | Report abuse

No slum, it's not a question of right and wrong. There's nothing "wrong" with the government saying they regret what happened. It's simply an unnecessary waste of time and energy that accomplishes nothing other than taking time and energy away from efforts to deal with real problems. I would think that there are many more pressing issues with which Congresman Exxum needs to concern himself.

Posted by: man on the street | February 8, 2007 1:28 PM | Report abuse

What's the big deal about issuing an apology? I'll never understand this. And I hate the lesson that it teaches children --never apologize, never accept responsibility or acknowledge when you've
been wrong.

At the same time, I am skeptical that the apology itself will actually fix anything in this country. An apology is deserved and should be made just because it's the right thing to do (when I am wrong I try to apologize, even if it doesn't "fix" things).

I can't get over how black or white (no pun intended) these conversations are. Either we owe no apology for slavery and it has no bearing on the differences in how blacks and whites are faring in our country today or EVERYTHING about how blacks are faring in the US today is because of slavery.

Yes, blacks continue to be discriminated against in society. We have empirical evidence about that. Yes, that's true of other minorities today and has been true of other minorities in the past (many of whom have overcome the discrimination). Yes, there are differences in the circumstnaces of these different minority groups (after a generation, you still know who's black, but not who's Irish). Yes, blacks need to be responsibile for themselves and trying their hardest to succeed just like the rest of us; but yes,it is also true that blacks will always have to try harder to reach the same ends as whites because of the discrimination they face.

And Tisha, it's still racism when it's directed toward white people. Will you make a formal apology?

Posted by: balance | February 8, 2007 1:29 PM | Report abuse

"I would think that there are many more pressing issues with which Congresman Exxum needs to concern himself."

Man on Street:

I understand where you are coming from. However the legislature wastes time on many issues that are not pressing. At least they are wasting time on one I care about for a change.

Posted by: No Slum | February 8, 2007 1:37 PM | Report abuse

"Pressing issues" Please! I think that the majority of what the legislature does with its time is a complete waste of time. What else is new? We have a state dog and a state dinosaur, for God sakes. Did any of you complain when that legislation was being pushed through? Well since that didn't involve Black people or making people recognize their shameful history of this State and nation, I guess it didn't matter.

Posted by: noracists | February 8, 2007 1:42 PM | Report abuse

No Slum,

Yes I am serious. As you put it: "Blacks in America have made achievements IN SPITE of this, not as a result of this." What I was saying is that slavery brought you here. It gave you the opportunity to live in this country and make the strides that many African Americans have made. So yes, black success is somewhat of a result of being here in this country, right? How can it not be?

You also said, "You should be thankful you experienced rape/murder/incest/violence/starvation, etc.) because it put you in a better position to acheive your goals." That is not the same - YOU personally did not experience slavery. You weren't there. However, you now have opportunities that would otherwise not be available to you if it weren't for slavery. Would Tiger Woods be the great success and role model he is today if he was born and living in Sudan?

Yes, the Irish had choices. And by no means was I trying to say Irish Emigration to the U.S. was the same as slavery. Again, I am saying all groups have suffered some form or another, but those groups find the positives and build from them instead of always seeking apologies and regrets. Sparticus never asked for an apology from Rome.

No government in this country should apologize for something that has ceased over a hundred years ago. The fact that the law was removed was an obvious admittance that the government was wrong. Maryland was wrong and they admitted it in 1864. How many apologies and regrets will it take?

Posted by: Lunchtime | February 8, 2007 1:46 PM | Report abuse

OK, someone else said it better than I did, in the same debate in Virginia: "Virginia already apologized with the blood of its citizens and the destruction of Virginia, during and after the Civil War. Let it go, it is over, stop living in the past. Stop allowing others to control you with guilt for things that happened long before you were even born."

Posted by: Ross | February 8, 2007 1:54 PM | Report abuse

No racists: As an African American, I want my legislators spending time on things that MATTER and on issues that will improve our community. Spending a lot of time trying squeeze a grudging apology out of lawmakers who had nothing to do with slavery in the first place is, in my opinion, a waste of time.

Posted by: man on the street | February 8, 2007 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Lunchtime: Patronizing doesn't even begin to describe the tenor of your argument. If Africa had been raped, colonized and pillaged by Europeans and Americans for hundreds of years it would be a major competitor on the world scene today. The Africans who were removed would have been glad to build a great society in a land where they were the majority. It wouldn't take 250 years to have Black CEO's of corporations because they would have built those institutions in their own lands. You need to get off you white horse with that patronizing bull. There was nothing positive for Black people from slavery--NOTHING. Everything we have accomplished is in spite of slavery and racism. Well, we are here now and we are proud to be Americans, but the horrible legacy of slavery is something both White and Black Americans will have to live with whether you acknowledge it or not.

Posted by: noracists | February 8, 2007 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Why doesn't the MD Democratic party alone apologize for their role in slavery?

History shows that while Lincoln and the Republicans fought to end slavery, the Democratic party promoted, defended and fought for slavery. No amount of rhetoric can distort that fact.

Posted by: BG from PG | February 8, 2007 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Now everyone that has spoken against this apology and reparations, would you change your mind if you knew that slaves did seek reparations after emanicipation, but were blocked from the courts because of Jim Crow laws. That is the whole point of the reparations issue. The people that were enslaved had no recourse because slavery was legal and sanctioned by the government. That is why we are asking the government of the United States and/or the state of Maryland to repair the injury caused by the legal sanction of this dehumanizing institution. It is only today, when as a nation we have a consensus on the unAmerican-ness of slavery and have overcome the legal discrimination of Jim Crow can we now get the recourse our ancestors were due and denied by the government.

Posted by: RCD | February 8, 2007 2:20 PM | Report abuse

"Again, I am saying all groups have suffered some form or another..."

Lunchtime: On this we agree. However, to borrow from an African American author, your blues ain't like mine, so stop trying to tell me I don't have the blues. In other words, stop trying to tell me I shouldn't be offended for what my great-grandparents endured. In 1864, Maryland admitted nothing but defeat as part of the Confederacy. What history books have you been reading? Your logic is faulty at best.

Noracists: Well said.

Posted by: No Slum | February 8, 2007 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Its just a shame that slavery no longer exists.

Posted by: Mark | February 8, 2007 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Noracists,

First, enough factless propaganda. Do not speculate that the same education and business opportunities would have been available to Africans if slavery never occurred. Africa outnumbers America almost 4-1 in population. Second, it's very convenient how you left out the fact that AFRICANS hunted, captured, and sold other Africans to the Europeans.

Now, my wife is black. I used to have conversations with her grandmother about slavery and she would tell stories about her mother. The one thing she said her ancestors preached to one another came from the Romans 6:15-23: "As a slave, you could find yourself in a miserable situation for all eternity. Or you could find slavery to be the greatest experience you ever had." They NEVER wanted sympathy. They never wanted sadness or apologies. She told me over and over again how thankful she was knowing that her ancestors suffering led to positive opportunities for her family. That their suffering wasn't for nothing - as you like to point out. Her family is very adament that they don't need apologies. They don't need regrets. They have been given opportunities that many in the world could only dream of. Her family has learned strength through slavery. They learned determination. They learned hope. I would dare you to walk up and tell any of them that there was NOTHING positive that came from their experience.

Now I am sure in all of your rhetoric you really think slavery is only negative - and that nothing positive came from it. Well, in honor of my wife's ancestors, I am glad that they know there are some people who appreciate them and what they went through. Maybe you should take lessons too - stop thinking your entitled to an apology and just live your life.

Posted by: Lunchtime | February 8, 2007 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Lunchtime: While you conceed that the history of Irish Americans is not the same as slavery, your concession does not go far enough. There is a fundamental difference between widespread discrimination, even discrimination enshrined in state law, and a declaration by the state that a group of people are less than human and may be owned by others. It is not merely a difference of degree; it is comparing apples and oranges.

You are assuming that African Americans are ONLY pursuing apologies, and that they are not simultaneously taking affirmative steps to better their collective existance. I'm not sure what you are basing that assumption on. However, the fact that a law was repealed is not an apology--that is simply the end of the proactive wrongdoing.

Ross, the idea that the Civil War was an apology is just ridiculous. The Civil War was an expression of the fact that Virginia believed in slavery so much that it was willing to shed the blood of its citizens to preserve it. The Civil War was a result of slavery, not an apology for slavery. By the same token, being restrained from assaulting someone is not the same thing as apologizing for assaulting someone.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 8, 2007 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Apologies, that 2:32 comment was mine. And I'd add that Lunchtime is making slavery sound like so much fun, I think we should all try it.

Lunchtime, please do not mistake making lemons out of lemonade as support for the positive nature of lemons.

Posted by: JS | February 8, 2007 2:35 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Mark, we need slavery for this country to get back to being an economic superpower.

Posted by: Kevin | February 8, 2007 2:38 PM | Report abuse

No Slum,

Maryland ratified their new constitution in 1864. The Confederate Army wasn't defeated until 1865. I read accurate history books, thank you. I understand - you are offended - I can't fully relate. And yes, our blues might be different. But what will an apology really accomplish? Will this really be the end of you being offended? A bunch of delegates and senators apologizing for something the current state had nothing to do with? Truly, will you sit back and say, "Ah, they finally admitted they're sorry"? Then what? Will you still go on wanting more for what your ancestors suffered? My point is, it won't end. I'm proud of my wife and her family who, like many slavery ancestors, are grateful of the opportunities that they have now and pursue them without wanting any entitlements. Now, that is true strength -something her ancestors worked hard to perfect.

Posted by: Lunchtime | February 8, 2007 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Someone needs to learn a little bit about Irish history. The Irish were slaves on their own land! Raped, murdered, persecuted, please learn before you speak.

I never said that slavery was a good thing, it was a horrible thing, but it is in the past. Making white people who had nothing to do with it accountable for what other people, your own people I might add, did isn't going to change your past.

No, I would want no apology from the English government for past crimes against the Irish race. What I want is peace in Ireland and unity in the United States. I want my daughter to see people as people and not people as a color. I also don't want her to every have to be "sorry" for something she didn't do.

"Your ancestors fighting for an identity just doesn't compare."

You need to learn a little bit about Irish history too. Maybe you can do that after you knock that humongous chip off your shoulder. Your above sentence is why some people do not feel sorry for people like you. Me, me, me, me. No one has suffered like me, not the Jews, not the Irish, not the Native Americans, just me.

Oh, and to the "after a generation no one will no who is Irish quote." I know I am Irish, and that is why I can't stand people like you. Because you don't care that I am an Irish American, that my family has been dirt poor, that I am the first one to go to college, that my brothers and sisters are all blue color and scrape buy.

You don't care because you don't want to see that other people have had it just as bad as you have. Thank God all African Americans don't think like all of you.

Good Day!

Posted by: Irish chick | February 8, 2007 2:48 PM | Report abuse

LUNCHTIME -- Well thank you for having the nerve to respond. It is funny how you say that I need to speak from fact and not emotion when I was responding to Irish Chick who was obviously speaking from emotion when she decided to post her lame comment. I

With that said....................First of all, you still cannot compare the plight of the Irish immigrants to that of blacks. The Irish could have been thrown into any war but their descendants still can walk into a job interview and get preference because of there white skin. We can try all we want to dance around this, but at the end of the day it is true. You even bring up the 2 NFL coaches that were in the superbowl like that is some type of support for your argument. The only reason that we are now having 2 black coaches in the superbowl for the first time is because HISTORICALLY blacks were not given a chance to be head coaches. I'm quite sure they are both good coaches, but I'm quite sure that they have been equally good coaches before them. You don't see a pattern here. I guess you wouldn't. The fact is that blacks have worked hard for years only to get discriminated against countless times when it comes to promotions and compensation. Blacks were working hard in the Baltimore shipyards before being replaced by European immigrants. Why do you think most labor unions are people descended from the Europeans immigrants of the 19th and 20th century? Do you not think displacing these workers didn't have an economic effect on their families for generations? Old money is the best money. Also, Economists agree that blacks are the ones affected by immigration more than any other group.

As for me rather being in America than Africa, you are right. I'm an American, why would I rather be somewhere else. Now if I was a forced migrant like the slaves, I'm quite sure it would be a different story. By the way, I also think that the quality of life in Africa would be a different story if Europeans didn't chopped it up, raped it of its resources and people for years

Also, when African chiefs sold Africans from the tribes they conquered to Europeans, they did not know they were selling them into something so inhumane. Slavery was different amongst Africans and Arabs (yes Arabs traded African slave years before the Trans Atlantic Slave trade). The children of slaves were not born into slavery, but became part of the society unlike American slavery where basically once a slave, always a slave. By the way, Ghana has issued an official apology to the descendents of slaves last year for the role it played in the slave trade.

It's only an apology. Why do you all care? Maybe if this was about reparations, I could understand. But an apology, it is just pretty symbolic. The only reason I am even responding is because I cannot believe people views over this. And for the record, I personally take responsibility for all of my actions. I know with hard work and education (which I have done and continue to do) can take me anywhere but that doesn't change the fact that blacks have to fight that much more for it. That is the reason why we only have 1 black senator instead of 13.

Posted by: DCReddz | February 8, 2007 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Lunchtime:

Your wife and her family should be commended for their admirable outlook. However, it is their place to choose to accept or reject Maryland's apology. The state committed a unique and objective wrong, and should apologize.

Some may take your family's view that slavery should be seen as yet another opportunity for advancement. Others may view slavery as an abomination, as the systemic destruction of one people for the economic gain of another. Both are VALID viewpoints, although you and I may subscribe to one and not the other. But it is not the place of the perpetrator to dictate which perspective of slavery is correct.

Whether slavery was a pure horror or a pure opportunity, or something in between, it was still wrong, and Maryland should apologize for it. It is then the choice of the people directly affected by slavery to decide what to do with that apology.

Irish Chick, please see my first post re: individual/institutional apologies.

Posted by: JS | February 8, 2007 2:55 PM | Report abuse

I like how you guys are arguing over one of the most boring Washington Post articles ever. I pity you, just like I pity the fact that we no longer have slavery.

Posted by: Kyle | February 8, 2007 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Lunchtime: You are clueless. I guess you mean well, but telling African-Americans that they are somehow better off because of slavery or that Africans captured slaves is nothing more than propaganda to make White Americans feel better/ less guilty for their ancestors' role in enslaving Africans. I won't even touch the fact that your wife is Black other than to say I hope she is happy. You really sound like the announcer on the GEICO Caveman commercials that doesn't seem to get how offensive the GEICO slogan is to cavemen. "So easy even a caveman can do it". Here's one for you: "Slavery, the best thing that ever happened to Black people!" The Klan couldn't have said it any better.

Posted by: noracists | February 8, 2007 2:59 PM | Report abuse

"From reading these comments, I personally don't want Maryland to apologize or express regret for anything. It would be an empty gesture. Clearly White American doesn't regret a damn thing except that it is socially unacceptable to wear their hoods in public."

How come no of you guys are jumping on this comment? I guess it is okay that she calls all white people racist!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 8, 2007 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Lunchtime, who gave you the right to have an interracial marriage. Plus. Why would you want to?

Posted by: Frank | February 8, 2007 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Slavery was the best thing to happen to black people. It kept them under control. Now all they do is run around killing people. It needs to be stopped.

Posted by: Member of the KKK | February 8, 2007 3:03 PM | Report abuse

JS,

Thank you for your kind post. I agree that there can be different viewpoints on slavery. Believe me, no descendants (including my wife's family) disagree that "slavery as an abomination, as the systemic destruction of one people for the economic gain of another." It was! It clearly was used for the economic gain of a select group of people. I think as my wife's family as saying, "Well, we were dealth these cards. Let's play them the best way we know how." Slavery was bad - they know it, everyone knows it. It's impossible not too. But they choose not to keep revisiting it as a tool for entitlements.

My best wishes to you and your family. If an apology is what will truly make you somewhat content, then by all means, I hope you get it.

Posted by: Lunchtime | February 8, 2007 3:03 PM | Report abuse

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16960678/site/newsweek/


Now this is truly horrible and I would pay to help some of the children in NY.

I geuss through all of our rants it would be nice if we could agree that there are more important things we could be focused on than an apology.

Posted by: Irish chick | February 8, 2007 3:08 PM | Report abuse

noracists,

If you don't get my point by now, you're never going to. We'll just agree to disagree. But please do not use me and the "klan" in the same post.

And for the record, my family arrived in 1887 - they never owned a slave.

Posted by: Lunchtime | February 8, 2007 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Cheers, Lunchtime. I just believe that the admirable outlook of those affected by slavery does not absolve the perpetrators of slavery of responsibility for their actions.

I think the main benefit to be gained from Maryland's apology is not a sense of contentment for individuals--that minimizes the impact that slavery had. ("Oops! Sorry about the kidnapping/forced labor/rape/societal destruction! My bad!") I think the benefit here is the underlying statement that our state governments are held to a certain standard, and when that standard is violated, there are consequenses. That it is important for our government to keep striving to improve itself, and that a critical examination of its past is a vital element of that improvement. That's why I don't see this apology as an "entitlement" to African Americans. I see it as a standard to which ALL Marylanders (regardless of race) should hold their government.

Posted by: JS | February 8, 2007 3:12 PM | Report abuse

JS,

I completely agree. But it's just difficult to imagine that the 2007 Maryland Legislature should be held to apologize for the acts of the legislature from the early 1800's. There could be a slew of apologies owed to many people for many reasons. But, you have a strong and valid point - a government should be held accountable. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Great debate. Take care of yourself.

Posted by: Lunchtime | February 8, 2007 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Lunchtime:

I assume you are not Black because you stated that your wife and family are. I think its great that you manage to see beyond the color of ones skin. However, you are right, there are things about living as a Black person in America that you cannot and will not ever understand. There are things about being Irish that I will never understand, but I can empathize because I know about the struggles of my ancestors. I will never understand what its like to be Jewish, but I know there are moments in recent history that are extremely painful to that group. If any in these groups said, "I feel offended for what (insert govt) did and I want an apology," I would not be against that.

I appreciate your accolades to the descendants of African slaves. We have achieved great things. I am SO GRATEFUL to be an American. There isn't anywhere else I'd want to be, however as an American its my responsibility to take this country to task on its past injustice to people who are not White. Many groups have suffered injustice at the hands of the US govt, Native Americans and Japanese included. They deserve to know that the institution that did them wrong regrets its actions. What will it change? Maybe not a whole lot initially, but its a start. Until the institution admits it was wrong, it will continue to disregard and marginalize the next group that does not have political or economic power.

Posted by: No Slum | February 8, 2007 3:21 PM | Report abuse

"How come no of you guys are jumping on this comment? I guess it is okay that she calls all white people racist!"

Could it be because some the posters, somewhere deep in their hearts and minds, agree with her comment?

Posted by: No Slum | February 8, 2007 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Lunchtime: I'm so sorry that your family did not come here as slaves and get to benefit from all the wonders of slavery. Where would you be if they had come here as free people? I shudder at the thought.

Posted by: noracists | February 8, 2007 3:38 PM | Report abuse

No Slum,

You are correct...I am not black. I don't even tan all that well. lol But I appreciate you understanding my position, as much as I am learning to understand yours. I think your last post truly made me realize that some people are affected more than others - I do apologize for personalizing the debate by comparing the hardship of one group with the hardship of another. Many of my ancestors homes were burnt to the ground, women raped, children kidnapped, and the lucky ones who could get away, sailed to this country only to be trampled on by the established population. They were slaves in their own right - many forced to work for only food. Thousands died in desparation from disease and starvation. No one would help them. Being Irish, it does hurt to know my ancestors experienced this. But I do not want an apology from anyone - and my ancestors wouldn't want one either. BUT - as you mentioned, my experience and feelings are not the same as your experience and feelings. You made a great reference: "Your blues ain't like mine!" I love that. And it's true.

I think the government has done many terrible things in its history, but the government is only as good as the people who run it. Unfortunately, we had many bad apples run this country. But then fortunately, we had many great patriots take over. I have no doubt that they were very sorry for what happened. If the legislature is to begin issuing apologies for past acts, however, we might be here a very long time.

Best wishes to you and your family. Thanks for giving me another viewpoint to consider.

Posted by: Lunchtime | February 8, 2007 3:38 PM | Report abuse

noracists,

Again, it went right over your head. Shocker!!

Posted by: Lunchtime | February 8, 2007 3:49 PM | Report abuse

I don't think an apology is enough. Maybe a museum dedicated to the suffering that African Americans had to endure from Slavery to current discrimination's.

Lunchtime what about the countless Black people who could not have children, to benefit from the legacy of Slavery as you claim. Because they were murdered?

Posted by: Ricardo A. | February 8, 2007 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Ricardo A.,

I agree, I think a museum is needed. Perhaps as a memorial to those slaves who died as you mentioned.

The Hollocaust Museum is one of the most touching and eye-opening places to visit. It highlights the horrific tragedy one group of people suffered through, and continue to suffer through. I personally think we need many more museums similar to its kind so we can all learn the obstacles our race and genders have experienced and how it those groups have persevered through.

Posted by: Lunchtime | February 8, 2007 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Lunchtime: It isn't going over my head. Just because I don't agree does not mean I don't get what you are saying. It's just that what you are saying is ridiculous--and insulting. But I guess that went over your head. Whatever.

Posted by: noracists | February 8, 2007 4:01 PM | Report abuse

How come no of you guys are jumping on this comment? I guess it is okay that she calls all white people racist!"

Could it be because some the posters, somewhere deep in their hearts and minds, agree with her comment?

Yep, and this is why you and them will never get ahead. Because you don't want people to be racist to you but accept it when it is against white people.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 8, 2007 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Lunchtime Yes.

Plus also one about human suffering, and the brutality we have afflicted to one another.

Posted by: Ricardo A. | February 8, 2007 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Irish chick -- apparently you didn't understand the nature of my comment.

It was not meant to minimize what Irish people have experienced in Ireland. It was specifically referring to the comment by others, using Irish families as an example, that other minority populations have been discriminated against when they came to the United States (and are therefore comparable to black people). It was not specific to Irish people. One side of my family is German and they suffered horrible discrimination when they came to this country. But when the country was psychologically ready to move past that discrimination a generation or two later, it was easier for my relatives to success because noone could look at the color of their skin and be immediately reminded that we were German.

It's got nothing to do with the Irish and their plight. It's the point that racism tends to fade slowly, but it likely fades less slowly when a group of people cannot easily "blend" in with others so that they are no longer identified solely as a member of that group.

Posted by: balance | February 8, 2007 4:09 PM | Report abuse

no racists,

Its not that I have a problem with you disagreeing with me. That is the whole purpose of a debate. I have a problem with you twisting what I am saying to mean exactly the opposite of the point I am making.

My whole point in a very simple nutshell has been that slaves weren't given a benefit. They dug deep and found this profound inner strength that many people would not be able to find unless they experience something as tragic as slavery. They used that strength to create improbable opportunities for themselves. Now, I argue that is a positive thing that came from slavery - just like many people have found profound strength and courage through their tragedies. You can disagree if you want. But don't equate me to the "klan" and don't twist it like I am saying slavery is equal to a day in Disney World.

Posted by: Lunchtime | February 8, 2007 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Lunchtime give up.

Posted by: Irish chick | February 8, 2007 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Ricardo A.,

I definitely agree. There is nothing like seeing pictures and reading stories of people and their triumphs and tragedies to really grasp what we are facing. We are a country of so many backgrounds and its almost scary how much we don't know about each others' histories. A series of museums highlighting (for lack of better word) the slave experience, the Irish famine and hardships, native americans, asians, etc. would no doubt help us gain a better more appreciative knowledge of each other and perhaps, just maybe, we will even grow closer together. It wouldn't hurt.

Posted by: Lunchtime | February 8, 2007 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Irish Chick,

Good advice. I give up. lol

Slainte!

Posted by: Lunchtime | February 8, 2007 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Lunchtime:

Best wishes to you and yours as well.

Posted by: No Slum | February 8, 2007 4:28 PM | Report abuse

A reminder, postings under false names (e.g. Captain Nowak)will be removed.

Posted by: Phyllis Jordan | February 8, 2007 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Who names their kids "Lunchtime," "No Slum," or "No racists?" I mean if there are no postings under false names, let's be consistent. And why haven't we heard from Capt. Nowak on this issue?

Posted by: John Smith | February 8, 2007 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Anon at 4:06

I think that if the people you mention feel offended, they are free to speak up. None of them did, so maybe thay aren't offended. That is the point I'm making. When someone says something that offends me, I speak up.

Posted by: No Slum | February 8, 2007 4:36 PM | Report abuse

You're allowed to use fake names or no name, just not somebody else's name

Posted by: Phyllis Jordan | February 8, 2007 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Lunchtime: Yeah, give up. When you say: "What I was saying is that slavery brought you here. It gave you the opportunity to live in this country and make the strides that many African Americans have made. So yes, black success is somewhat of a result of being here in this country, right? How can it not be?"
It sure as heck looks like you are making slavery seem like a net positive thing for African-Americans for all the "opportunity" we have now. I think that's a bunch of crap and I know for certain that your ancestors would have never traded places with a slave, had slavery been in effect at the time. You wouldn't trade places with a Black person today! I hope that someday you see how nutty it is to think that enslaving a people, taking them from their homeland, destroying their families, brutalizing them, denying them education and civil rights for hundreds of years ended being a net gain. Look at the paper tomorrow and see who is the latest murder victim, the latest car jacking victim, where the crime is, where the poverty is, where the schools are failing and ask yourself again whether slavery brought these people a better "opportunity" than they would have experienced had slavery never existed.

Posted by: noracists | February 8, 2007 5:33 PM | Report abuse

"How come no of you guys are jumping on this comment? I guess it is okay that she calls all white people racist!"

It's an opinion commonly held by WaPo readers so it comes as no surprise.

Posted by: Rufus | February 9, 2007 9:16 AM | Report abuse

Lincoln was shot because he wanted to send the slaves back to Africa. But some of the white boyz wanted to keep them around.

Posted by: Fact | February 9, 2007 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Just curious, why doesn't the American Indian receive as much attention? Talk about being screwed by the white man. Don't say they have the reservation's the Feds own and control that. What would an apology do? Is that going to make everything OK. What meaning is an apology from someone or "body" that had absolutely nothing to do with the offence? There have always been slaves of all colors in history, does someone owe me something? I'll answer it. NO they don't. Slavery is still going on in Africa today. Why don't Jackson & rest fight that? I'll answer that to. NO MONEY IN IT FOR THEM. Blacks and Whites should realize that these politicians feed on this stuff to fuel the fire in order to line their pockets. It's not about helping any of us. We can't live in the past or change the past only the future can we try and control.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 10, 2007 6:47 AM | Report abuse

My two cents. The state should issue an apology. It would be a good way to recognize the wrongs of the past and allow us to move forward. At the same time, I think reparations are laughable. Let's be realistic, who is going to pay for them? We will need to raise state taxes to give money to black people? That is truly divisive and will greatly harm race relations here. Once this money is distributed, how will it really change the black community? Will institutional and cultural challenges suddenly disappear? This is a very bad and explosive idea in my opinion.

Posted by: InMoCo | February 10, 2007 7:54 PM | Report abuse

NoScum,

I think your arguments are very eloquent - and correct as well.

Posted by: writergirl | February 15, 2007 3:13 PM | Report abuse

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