Sunday, February 25, 2007

Yes Virginia, Slavery was Bad

Wow. It took this long, and only one state has done it so far. But it has finally, at long last happened. The Virginia legistlature unanimously agreed to a non-biding resolution that expresses regret for the state's participation in the evil institution of slavery. The resolution also acknowledges the wrong done to Native Americans. An entire legistlature, in the U.S. yet, in the South at that, grew up. How'd that happen? Who knew it was possible? Suddenly I believe in Big Foot and Santa Claus and the Klingon Empire.

Now, reparations would have been a better step, but any step is more than has been offerend to date. For a political body to acknowedge the evils of the past and express regret (stopping short of actual atonement which might have required reparations) is something. Making amends is a healing act, and the injuries inflicted by racism are still in desparate need of healing.

Why should people in the 21st century make amends for something that happened so long ago? Because, much of this country was built by forced labor. Some have inherited fortunes and many have received societal benefits that are a direct result of the unpaid labor of others. That must be acknowledged. As long as some (and, in fact, many) continue to benefit from the injustices of the past, the injustice isn't left in the continues and WE perpetuate it. To acknowledge that truth, apologize for it, and make healing gestures (one day to include, hopefully, reparations), is what is just. And isn't that what we who live in, "one nation...with liberty and justice for all" want? I applaud Virginia's effort and look forward to other states doing the same. It is, after all, only right.

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