Bruce Parker

Alabama comes out?

Filed By Bruce Parker | June 01, 2007 5:01 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Alabama, hate crimes against LGBT people, Racism, Slavery, Symbolism

Well, the thought matters right?

Alabama has officially apologized for slavery. I am not exactly sure what I think about this....

"Slavery was evil and is a part of American history," the Republican governor said. "I believe all Alabamians are proud of the tremendous progress we have made and continue to make."

Alabama is the fourth Southern state to pass a slavery apology, following votes by the legislatures in Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina. Alabama's Democrat-controlled Legislature approved the resolution last week.

To read the rest of the article click here.

I tend to think that symbolic gestures such as these matter. I actually think that the Matthew Shepherd Act is largely symbolic and supremely important. What do other folks think of both Alabama and the symbolic importance of hate crimes laws?

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Zach Adamson | June 1, 2007 7:22 AM

I agree with the symbolism aspect. Although I dont agree with people who did nothing wrong apologizing to no one. I mean not to say that the public notice that slavery was an awful part of our history isn't a good thing, and some states have much more acknowledging to do than others, but no one alive today had slaves and no one alive today was a slave. But I understand the need to say it was wrong and we know that now.

But I'm in favor of anything that creates a peace among people. And the Hate Crimes is more symbolic in nature. it will reduce hate crimes indirectly by setting the environmental tone for what is acceptable.

I tend to think that symbolic gestures such as these matter.
Of course symbols matter - that's like saying "things matter". Who was it that said that discouse creates reality? I don't know, but I don't believe it because discourse is reality. Come on, people develop their identities with respect to the symbols that surround them and those that they identify with... so how that symbols matter or not matter when they're the means through which we exist?

OK, that's my rant for the day.

Bruce Parker II | June 1, 2007 12:05 PM

Zach and everyone,

I feel like apology isn't the best framing for slightly different reasons than you. To me the two primary dangers of apologizing for racism is that 1. It makes it seem like something that is totally in the past while those actions have affected the economic station of white and black families across the country of all families in the North and South of the country due to the way we know that wealth transmission works. 2. Focusing on slavery in discussions of legislatures about racism doesn't begin to address the economic disparities that exist within contemporary society based on race and racism.

A. J. Lopp | June 1, 2007 2:31 PM

I think the apologies are important. The government wronged its own citizens, and that calls for official acknowledgment and correction. The apologies are part of the workings toward a complete reconciliation and a healing of the psychic wounds inflicted --- even while other wounds of history are so immense they are immeasurable and uncorrectable. This is true for black Americans and also true for the indigenous Americans.

Yes, generations die and other generation are born, but it is still the same government system --- just as a corporation retains its original identity even though its stock shares get sold and bought.

Bruce is right that the economic fallout goes unrepaired. If these apologies are at all sincere, the least we must do is repair the ability for everyone to participate, to be fully American. To do this, in turn, we need to fix the inequities in our educational systems and in our justice systems. Making pronouncements like this while we continue to warehouse black and Native American men in our prisons is worthless and hollow.

As a true Northerner, I grew up during the Civil Rights era. I watched on TV every day as people, black and white, marched in the streets for equality. I wondered if it would ever happen. I also knew that I would never want to visit those states - Mississippi, Alabama, - where discrimination was so rampant. I wonder why all of a sudden the governor is "apologizing." Is it a true apology, is it for economics sake (tourism, industry), is it a PR thing? Makes me think of when we were trying to defeat SJR-7. Who would want to work and live in a state that people perceive to be so discriminatory?