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Virginia House Finally Regrets Slavery

Posted on Feb 4, 2007
slave trade

Stopping short of a full-blown apology, Virginia’s House of Delegates voted unanimously on Friday to issue a statement of “profound regret” over the state’s role in the slave trade, “the historic wrongs visited upon native peoples” and “all other forms of discrimination and injustice….”

Los Angeles Times:

“The General Assembly hereby expresses its profound regret for the commonwealth’s role in sanctioning the immoral institution of human slavery, in the historic wrongs visited upon native peoples, and in all other forms of discrimination and injustice that have been rooted in racial and cultural bias and misunderstanding,” the resolution states.

The resolution was sponsored by Democratic Delegate A. Donald McEachin, whose great-grandfather was born a slave. Although he initially wanted an outright apology, McEachin said the final version of the House resolution “doesn’t sugarcoat the matter either.”

McEachin said it marked an important step in the state’s effort to move beyond its history of stormy race relations, which included governmentsanctioned resistance to integration during the 1950s.

“There is some pain at first, but there is a beautiful product at the end,” McEachin said of his colleagues’ decision to embrace the resolution. “Virginia had nothing to do with the end of slavery. It had everything do with the beginning of slavery.”

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By dick, February 5, 2007 at 4:28 pm Link to this comment
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I wish I could “appologize” for others’ misdeeds, etc,etc, but it is not possible. The word is carelessly used and has lost significance.

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By HeadlessHessian, February 5, 2007 at 2:47 pm Link to this comment
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Its about time….Better than a sharp stick in the eye I say.  This whole thing is repugnant.  I submit that a confederate flag to an African-American is as repugnant and distasteful to him as as a caricature of Mohammed to a Muslim, as a Swastika to a Holocaust survivor,  as a Hammer and Sickle or a picture of Chè to those of us that survived a communist regime.


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By, February 5, 2007 at 11:31 am Link to this comment
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Thank You Stephen Colbert.

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By Los Angeles Democrat, February 5, 2007 at 10:10 am Link to this comment
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It does no harm to apologize and some people may benefit from that.

The problem, however, is not just entrenched racism, but also the pernicious internalized effects of that.  What I refer to is what’s variably been called “post-traumatic slave syndrome” or “oppression sickness.”  No true national dialogue on race will be worth much if it does not include that. 

While it’s all well and good to continue the collective efforts of redress, such as affirmative action and such (and they should be continued), there is an equal need for healing to occur within the minority community itself and, while the collective can help hold space for that (including ongoing programmtic support, including mental health treatment), the healing work itself can only be done by those directly impacted - the descendents of slaves and oher long term victims of racism.  It’s difficult work, for sure, and requires facing and working through the terror and pain of generations of abuse and trauma.  The current approach of “rising above” is a half-measure, at best.

Indeed, what we see so far are continued expressions of victimization, ongoing expectations of entitlement by a whole sub-group of the population, and a vigilante kind of approach to anyone or anything that dares to “call a spade a spade.”  It’s as if no one in the African-American population or its enablers (an exaggeration, I know) has ever heard of any model for minority group healing - with some very specific, tried and true steps.  As a group, there remains a stubborn resistance to that. 

In response, the collective majority population is beginning to feel that they are being asked to carry all the water, so to speak.  That is not only wrong but, ultimately, it will never work.

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By DennisD, February 4, 2007 at 8:38 pm Link to this comment
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I think we’d be better served trying to straighten out today’s problems rather than an exercise in time travel.

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By Chaseme, February 4, 2007 at 7:51 pm Link to this comment
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These are the original Twelve Steps as defined by Racism Anonymous: [1]

  1. We admitted we were powerless over racism—that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons of color we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to racist, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Other twelve-step groups have modified the twelve steps slightly from those of Racism Anonymous to refer to problems other than Racism.
The Promises:
  1. If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through.
  2. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.
  3. We will regret the past and learn enough humility to eventually shut the door on it.
  4. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace.
  5. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benifit others.
  6. The felling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear.
  7. We will loose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows.
  8. Self-seeking will slip away.
  9. Our whole attitude and outlook on life will change.
  10. Fear of people of color and economic insecurity will leave us.
  11. We will intuitively know how to handle situations that used to baffle us.
  12. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.

“Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us-sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.”

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By Dr. Knowitall, PhD, PhD, February 4, 2007 at 1:27 pm Link to this comment
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#51538 Frank, I don’t think it’s pointless to apologize.  The horror of slavery in this country will be remembered for centuries to come and anything that might help toward healing is pointless only if those receiving the apology deem it as such. Even more than that, would an apology hurt?  It seems important to McEachin.

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By Jim Yell, February 4, 2007 at 7:11 am Link to this comment
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I am all in favor of people accepting that they did something wrong, but let us not beat ourselves up about these things which were the accepted means of interaction by most of the worlds cultures and populations at the time, if not all of them.

Does the Davidson family now get an apology by Native Americans for the kidnap and cold blooded murder of their little children in the 18th century? Can we expect reparation for the enslavement of the mother?

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By Dr. Knowitall, PhD, PhD, February 4, 2007 at 7:04 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Bravo!, VA

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By Lefty, February 4, 2007 at 6:13 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hmmmm!  It’s a good bet more than a few in Virginia are seeking re-election!

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By Frank, February 4, 2007 at 5:51 am Link to this comment
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A statement of apology would have been pointless since you can not give a meaningful apology for something you had no control over or involvement in.  “The State of Virginia” is nothing but a group of people and none alive today had anything to do with slavery.

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