slavery regret

In light of the 400th anniversary of Jamestown this year, my home state has issued a formal apology for slavery. The Virginia General Assembly passed a resolution of “profound regret” for “the involuntary servitude of Africans and the exploitation of Native Americans.” From today’s Guardian article:

The collective expression of remorse is believed to be the first of its kind to recognise that the foundations of America were built on exploitation. Its symbolism was underlined by its delivery from Richmond, the former capital of the confederacy and home at the outset of the civil war in 1861 to half a million of the four million African-Americans living in slavery.

The word “sorry” was left out of the resolution to ward off any requests for reparations. More in this USA Today article .

I guess better late than never is the only thing to be said here, but I’m also wondering if this will have any impact on the struggle of Virginia Indians to achieve federal recognition. The eight surviving Virginia tribes, about 17,000 individuals, weren’t formally recognized by the state until the 1980s, and they are still being denied federal education, housing, and economic development benefits.

Rep. Jim Moran vowed to re-introduce the issue in the House of Representatives this session, but as far as I can tell he hasn’t gotten around to it yet. He did, however, speak on the matter at this Senate hearing last June. His statement is a pretty good summary of the issue and all the ugly racist history attached to it, but there’s lots more in the Indian Country archives.

11 thoughts on “slavery regret

  1. Pingback: Sorry, but how “profound” can this “contrition” possibly be? at Vortex(t)

  2. What do you mean by how profound can this contrition be? What is it exactly you are looking for from legislation?

  3. Maggie, have you clicked through on the link above that comment? That’s a pingback from the Vortex(t) blog, and Victoria explains her thoughts in a lot more detail there.

  4. I did click through and saw her comments but I didn’t see what her solution would be if she were in the general assembly or why specifically this particular piece of legislation is offensive.

  5. Maggie, since I’m the one who made the commentary you’re taking issue with (sorry for any confusion Joriel – file this under ‘fun with WordPress’s automatic trackback function), I’ll respond. I never offered any specific alternative solution; I merely offered my commentary to the effect that it was a shame it had to be watered down from the original text offered in order to achive passage.

    At my page, Joriel left the following comment which I found useful:

    I’ve seen enough of the Virginia Gen Ass (as another activist friend in Richmond rigorously calls it) to know that even a half-assed apology for slavery is kind of miraculous.

    And I take from that that this is probably the best that can be achieved in the current political climate. Some progress, obviously, is better than none.

    And if the legisltation’s sponsors – particularly McEachin, who can speak on these matters with far more authority than I, given that he is a) an actual legislator and b) a descendant of slaves – believed the language change was necessary in order to pass it, then that’s the way it is, and I’m glad we have something on the books.

    Still, there’s nothing wrong with dreaming bigger dreams. We’re a long way off from repairing the profound damages wrought by slavery in our nation’s (and this state’s) history.

    Finally, you seem kind of confused on the matter of who is offering which commentaries where. At first it seemed you were taking Joriel (the author of this blog) to task for a post I’d written elsewhere (a link to which had appeared as a trackback here). Now when I click on the link at your name, I get a link to this very post. Are you clear that where the blanks appear at “Your comment,” under “website” it is intended that one enter the URL for one’s own website (if you have one) and not the URL for the very same post you’re commenting on? Otherwise this can be left blank.

    Best regards – V.

  6. Yes, I do know that it wasn’t Joriel who made the comment and she was not the person who I was responding to. And would I be correct in saying that you find this resolution more “incomplete” so to speak rather than offensive? I was just wondering about possible alternate solutions to this issue.

  7. Thanks for mentioning Virginia Indians, Joriel. Thier stuggle continues… next year, if you and Ben are home, wanna come to the Chickahominy Pow Wow with Liz and Hugh and I? It’s always the last weekend in September. Save the date! :-)

  8. That sounds awesome Stacie! I’ve always wanted to go to one of those.

    And if you hear anything in terms of progress on the federal recognition issue, I’d love for you to let me know. VITAL hasn’t been keeping up their website, so it was quite a research chore to track down the latest news.

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