We need to talk about why bigots should STOP apologizing
We are leaving Black History Month on the same low note that we began.
The assault on Blackness was a non-stop convention, featuring White people who behave very badly, and then pretend to be remorseful when that bad behavior comes back to haunt them.
The Governor of Virginia, and his equally guilty White comrades, are basking in the glow of their victory over the blackface controversy, and how despite the cries for resignation, the forecast never wavered from the favorable outcome.
Confessions were furnished, and apologies made, and weeks later, the residue of that period is barely in the air.
We then moved right along to the infuriating episode that assaults Blackness with purposed evidence of why the newly-initiated trend of blackface has to remain activated. From Gucci’s fugly sweater to Katy Perry’s eyesore footwear, every other day proved to be a grueling lesson in how Black pain funds the greedy mission of shameless outlets, who are deceiving no one when they populate timelines with old photos of The View’s Joy Behar, in an effort to keep a lucrative topic alive.
And now we are back to where we never left, in the form of another apologetic White person, who described Black folks as niggers, while she was out on the town, and in the social presence of acquaintances, that she assumed would endorse her filthy bigotry.
Harford County Del. Mary Ann Lisanti reportedly told a white colleague in late January at Annapolis Cigar that when he campaigned last fall in House District 26 in Prince George’s County on behalf of a candidate, he was knocking on doors in a “n — — — district.”
The Maryland delegate from Havre de Grace, was forced to bow to the responsibilities of disgraceful ownership for what she said out in the open, without a gun held to her head, and with the privilege that typically accompanies such damning actions.
“I deeply apologize to the citizens of my district, people of Maryland, all of my colleagues in the Maryland General Assembly and everyone reading this for my word choice several weeks ago.” “I am sickened that a word that is not in my vocabulary came out of my mouth. It does not represent my belief system, my life’s work or what is in my heart.”
Okay, so let’s break this statement down:
By now, Black people are used to the standard messaging that White people use to convey what they’ve been forced to express, and that’s why the over-used phrase “deeply apologize” rings hollow. In order to feel “deeply” about something, it has to be a gut reaction that validates the regretfulness of what transpired, and you can’t claim those emotions when you’ve spent a lifetime openly practicing White supremacy.
Then we go on to the part where Lisanti alleges how “sickened” she is by the fact that the word “nigger” “came out of” her “mouth. This is murky territory when you consider the currency of White victimhood, and how it permits White offenders to center their pain with the motive to minimize the damage done to their victims of abuse. How can an adult woman be disgusted by the words that she CHOSE to come out her mouth? And furthermore, how can she allege that the n-word is not in her “vocabulary” when she effortlessly relied on it to prove her point? It may have been a fucked up way to bolster a weak argument, but it does demonstrate that this particular usage of the n-word wasn’t an unusual or rare choice.
And then we get to the meatier shit, that is also the common way in which White folks sanitize the potency of their bigotry, by making a shitty case for how this extremely offensive behavior, doesn’t at all reflect “belief system, my life’s work or what is in my heart.”
Again, White privilege strikes again with the vengeance of turning an “apology” into the mission statement that’s meant to validate the otherwise exemplary characteristics of a racist. It allows the racist to furnish her own reference check, which of course has to be a glowing review of how despite publicly referring to Black people as niggers, her “belief system” “life’s work” and heartfelt endeavors are a testament to her challenged humanness.
Not long after Mary Ann Lisanti was outed as the latest Democrat with racist tendencies, the Maryland delegate was approached by a local reporter, Avajoye Burnett, who gave the embattled delegate the prime opportunity to prove the legitimacy of her well-coined apology.
But instead of taking the time to once again express how “sickened” she is by the use of an abominable word that doesn’t “represent her belief system,” Lisanti opted to stay silent, as she urgently tried to make her cowardly escape from the scene of her crime.
So here’s the thing, we really need to talk about why bigots should stop apologizing because the truth of the matter is that racism is an incurable disease.
Not too long ago, NBC’s legendary newsman, Tom Brokaw, infamously aired out his dirty laundry with his hate-filled rant about Hispanics, as he added poison to a segment about immigration on Meet The Press.
Brokaw was attempting to present the disposition of the Hispanic community through the lenses of White Anglo-Saxon bigots, who are also frustrated with the slow progress of assimilation into White society, that would supposedly give Brown people the leverage of acceptance and prosperity that can only be achieved once the English language is dutifully perfected.
“I also happen to believe that the Hispanics should work harder at assimilation.That’s one of the things I’ve been saying for a long time. You know, they ought not to be just codified in their communities but make sure that all their kids are learning to speak English, and that they feel comfortable in the communities. And that’s going to take outreach on both sides, frankly.”
As if that wasn’t revolting enough, Brokaw divulged other concerns of his privileged White buddies, who spend warm afternoons on the porches of their homes in Locust Valley, bemoaning the reality of welcoming Brown grand babies.
“Also, I hear, when I push people a little harder, ‘Well, I don’t know whether I want brown grandbabies.’ I mean, that’s also a part of it. It’s the intermarriage that is going on and the cultures that are conflicting with each other.”
The swift disturbance in the force propelled the standard apology that dripped in a plethora of incoherent tweets, before experts were brought in to post a more cohesive statement that contained the key words that White people use as weaponry.
Days later, the expected avalanche of support from White notables began filtering in, as we were forcibly reminded of the enviable accomplishments of Tom Brokaw, including his stints as the assigned reporter, covering themes of injustice during the civil rights era.
But how does a White man’s stellar resume compensate for his outright racist viewpoints, which he readily shared on national television with gleaming transparency?
This is why we have to keep talking about why White people apologizing for their bigotry actually causes more harm than good.
We don’t need the apology.
What we do need is the appropriate disciplinary measures that could lead to the loss of power with the immediacy that should accompany a consequential judgment call that nobody who is unbiased would ever make.
It’s not enough to promptly issue statements that are drafted by assistants, with the hope that those words will cleanse out your guilt after you purposely used the one word that White people are formally banned from uttering — anytime — anywhere.
The best course of action would be to admit your bigotry, and willingly resign yourself to the punishment that should follow, instead of boring us with verbal assessments of an imaginary character that doesn’t match your recent output.
Save the apology and keep it moving.
Your Whiteness will take care of the rest. It always does.