Apologies

If you never buy the News and Observer again in your lifetime, buy it today or at least read it online. There's a special section about the history of racism in our state, focused Wilmington in 1898. And make sure you read the lead editorial as well, which includes this remarkable paragraph:

Again we confront the role played by the press in firing the hatreds that led white vigilantes to overthrow Wilmington's elected municipal government and wantonly to kill black residents. This newspaper was a leader in that propaganda effort under editor and publisher Josephus Daniels. Although the paper no longer is owned by Daniels' heirs, an apology for the acts of someone whom we continue to salute in a different context on this page and for the misdeeds of the paper as an institution is perfectly in order, and so we offer that apology today.

I'm a big fan of apologizing when you've screwed up, and I spend plenty of time doing just that. Apologies should be clear, with no attempt to explain away or duck responsibility. The N&O does a decent job today and it's a good first step.

But it's going to take more than one newspaper apologizing. The descendants of those abused and denied a hundred years ago continue to suffer the enduring effects of institutional racism. Affirmative action policies have not gone nearly far enough in remediating that history. I don't know what the ultimate answer is, but I know we have not found it. Not even close.

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Comments

Thanks, A

Apologies for the long post. This issue is personal for me. A few years back I was in a relationship with a beautiful soul who's ancestry was very different from mine. What I learned in that time about myself and about other people ripped a tiny whole in my world view that I can't totally heal and I chose not to ignore.

Us white folks like to pretend this "ancient history" stuff is irrelevant these days. "That was so long ago!", we reason. "We've never done such horrible things." "No one I know would ever do such horrible things." "We're not even related to anyone who ever did such horrible things." "Why punish me for the sins of my fathers?"

But affirmative action is not about punishment. It's about leveling the playing field. If that feels like punishment, I would humbly suggest a thoughtful deliberate walk in the other man's shoes. Failing that, I would humbly suggest a book I've recommended at blueNC before; Blood Done Sign My Name, by Timothy Tyson. Tyson offers the reader an up close and personal account of the race issue through the late 60's early 70's from the perspective of a young white southern Methodist preacher's boy. The story is a true one that played out not so long ago, right here in North Carolina. I thought I knew something before I read that book. umm. I'm so wrong sometimes it scares me.

We are haunted. Ignoring that fact just makes it impossible to deal with. And the legacy of overt discrimination and outright cruelty cripples all of us, but folks of my complexion don't see it. It's no longer done in the open and it's never directed towards us. If one is not numbered among those who feel the undertow of "other-ism" that swirls still around our feet -- by virtue of skin color, religion, manner of speech, or who one loves -- it's easy to miss even when it's hunted.

Modern modes of discrimination are most often covert and subtle, but they are still pervasive. The man in the water feels the undertow. The man in the boat does not.

"They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum Then they charged the people a dollar 'n a half just to see 'em. Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone? They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

Beautifully said, Leslie

Thank you for that.

You are so right, racism does still exist even though it may not always present itself in the most blatant or overt forms. Although, I do still hear/see the "in your face" offensiveness and honestly, it amazes me to hear people who claim to be Democrats, engage in discrimination or use the "N" word and other racist phrases. Sickening. Ignorance and hatred are not Democratic values.

You knocked me speechless

Very beautifully said.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



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