Slavery, I’m Sorry You Happened

By Malena Amusa Mar 05, 2007

The General Assembly of Richmond, Virginia voted Feb . 24 to express its "profound regret," for slavery that took place in the state. This unanimous decision came just one month after Virgina republican Delegate Frank D. Hargrove, 80, angered leaders after saying Black people need to get over slavery. Yesterday, I heard those same words filtering clearly and sharply through my cell phone as I argued with an Indian friend of mine who believes the only thing Black people need to get over is their own not-as-hard-working-as-Indians-selves. What is sadly missing from these discussions is a frank and simple discourse that explains the residual impacts of slavery on Blacks’ psychological, political, social, and economic lives. Two articles I read today show why this state apology has to be backed up by state and federal policy action. The First: New America Media’s "10 Reasons Why Congress Should Back a Reparations Commission," presents what I think are the strongest arguments against the "let’s get over slavery" camp. Most revealing:

–The legacy of slavery endures. In its 2006 State of Black America, the National Urban League found that blacks are far more likely to live in underserved segregated neighborhoods, be refused business and housing loans, be denied promotions in corporations, suffer greater health care disparities, and attend cash-starved, failing public schools than whites. –Former Federal Reserve Board member Andrew Brimmer estimates that discrimination costs blacks $10 billion yearly through the black-white wage gap, denial of capital access, inadequate public services, and reduced social security and other government benefits. This has been called the “black tax.”

Second: Another piece by Earl Ofari Hutchinsonabout what Congress has to do to reverse the tragedy slavery left behind.