(U-WIRE) LOS ANGELES – The “slavery issue” still remains as the festering boil left untreated on the face of what many Americans would consider to be the glory of this nation’s past. Even the mere invocation of the word slavery, because of its historical implications, often can make whites defensive of their role in history. And it serves as a reminder to blacks of how they were the unwilling participants in a capitalist endeavor in which they were the actual commodity.
The context in which we as Americans view our history, in light of this “slavery issue” speaks toward the heart and essence of everything that we as Americans are today, and the very substance of who our children will be in the future.
Will we remain a nation of individuals who praise a glorious history of America which simply never existed? Or a nation of brave individuals unafraid to approach our history with candor and truth, recognizing that the crimson strips of our beloved flag are also permanently stained with the blood of Africans and other people of color?
The Associated Press reported last week that while President Clinton will address the issue of slavery during his trip to Africa next month, he will not issue a formal apology to African Americans for slavery.
Clinton should not apologize for slavery for several reasons, but mainly because even if such an apology was given, it would not alleviate the racial attitudes which permeate every aspect of American society.
The vast majority of whites will continue to ignore the fact that they are the direct benefactors of slavery and oppression. Meanwhile the vast majority of blacks will remain frustrated with whites for their continuing complicity through ignorance.
However, this does not mean that progressive individuals from both races cannot find a viable solution to change black and white perceptions of one another, which for the most part have remained in diametric opposition.
Part of the solution, at least in the short run, is for Americans to collectively establish a National Black Holocaust Monument.
Several historians have estimated that more than 60 million Africans suffered and died during the trans-Atlantic slave trade, in addition to the ones that would experience unimaginable horrors visited upon them by colonial oppressors after their arrival in New World.
Mourning for Americans, by Americans, and the establishment of a National Black Holocaust Monument would serve a dual purpose.
First, it would allow African Americans to come together, and attempt to lay to rest the souls of their ancestors whose voices can still be heard from the grave.
Second, it would compel all progressive people of the world to finally acknowledge that this unimaginable horror took place. Not once in its more than 200 years of existence has the United States ever established a place where people from all over the nation can mourn for Africans who most unwillingly spilled their blood, so that the experiment of America could come to fruition.
Acknowledging the blood-stained past and wrongs of our country does nothing to take away from historical greatness of America, but can only serve to improve America for future generations, and prove to the entire world that the United States is indeed striving to become the multi-cultural democracy that has been left unrealized.
With these things taken into consideration, I hereby challenge Clinton to not merely make an apology to African Americans for the historical event of slavery, but to go a major step further, and allocate funds to build a National Black Holocaust Monument which will serve not only to recognize and pay tribute to the Africans who suffered and died through slavery yesterday, but also to educate and enlighten the people of the world today of this travesty which we must never ever allow to happen again.
Clinton’s words of an apology would only be worth the breath it takes to muster them from his lips. But a Black Holocaust Monument comparable to the other great monuments of this country and the world, would stand the test of time, and remind generations of Americans of the sacrifices of our African forefathers and foremothers, who were brought to this country in bondage.
As Martin Luther King Jr. said so eloquently, “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” The time is now.