When Saying “I’m Sorry” Isn’t Enough
White privilege means never being sorry enough to be sorry
The shit storm that’s leaving the state of Virginia in shambles is just another indicator of how Trump’s toxic administration that’s riddled with hate-filled rhetoric, that has resulted in the ongoing national emergency of domestic terrorism, has helped to normalize the evils of overt bigotry to the point of unreason.
Consider how the embattled Governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam initially responded to the unfolding crisis, once it was evident that his blemished past as either a KKK empathizer or a blackface loyalist, was going to possibly cost him everything.
The televised apology was rushed and messy, but then the revised edition was even more damning, when he was forced to admit that even though he was pretty sure he wasn’t featured in the appallingly offensive yearbook photo, he was guilty of once using shoe polish to darken his face when he made the fateful decision to pay homage to Michael Jackson.
When a reporter randomly asked Northam to prove his “Moonwalking” skills, he was ready to oblige until his wife nudged him back to his senses.
After that pathetically dismal outing, there were the periodic updates from the Governor’s bunker, that emphasized Northam’s emphatic denial that he is indeed a racist, and furthermore, he wasn’t about to resign his station as the disgraceful politician who leaves behind a legacy of hate as his imprint.
Fast forward to another heated office in the state of Virginia, where the Attorney General Mark Herring has joined forces with the same guy he not too long ago advised to hang it up for the sake of decency, and the dignified display of taking accountability without cutting corners.
Herring was most likely counseled to avoid the brutal ambushing that seems to be going around like a ferocious virus, and so he dropped his lethal bomb.
It reads like all the others, with the grimness of indulging in the historically vile practice of painting a White face with darkening agents as a way to replicate the persona of notable Black entertainers, and of course, there was never a sense of guilt that hovered — either during or after the offense.
Both Northam and Herring are adamant about not vacating their illustrious posts, over events that happened decades ago, when they were much younger, and a lot more reckless in their pursuits. They seem to think that being profusely apologetic, with additional public shaming that has tainted their otherwise stellar record, is more than enough punishment for isolated incidences that didn’t cause permanent damage.
But the truth of the matter is that both these White men are so blinded by their White privilege that they can’t see straight.
We can’t deny that these grand reveals that also include sexual assault allegations recently levied on Virginia Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax, are part of the ugly network of political blackmail.
And your ever-predictable president has inserted himself in the chaos with his brand of leadership, that’s delivered with the recordings of wins and losses on both sides, and how he’s always on standby when it comes to flaunting the deepening woes of the opposing team.
Interestingly enough, Trump wasn’t able to provide colorful commentary when long-standing ally and fellow White nationalist, Rep. Congressman Steve King horrified his fellow Republicans with his public tantrum over not being able to proudly celebrate the sovereignty of his Whiteness without offending the overly-sensitive crowd.
When asked about the King fiasco, the yellow-haired oaf dismissed it with the casual excuse that he wasn’t even aware of of the uproar that his comrade had initiated.
Here’s the thing, there are occasions when saying “you’re sorry” is just about all you need to do to adequately acknowledge the person you mistakenly bumped into while boarding an impossibly crowded train.
Then there are episodes when being apologetic and repeatedly uttering those words is warranted, but isn’t not nearly enough to absolve you of the responsibilities that come with what you did, at a time in your life when you were old enough to know better.
There’s also the incriminating evidence of our nefarious justice system and how Black and Brown folks, especially our youth, are never provided the chance to escape the worst case scenario of a lifetime in prison, for crimes they didn’t even commit — or a decade behind bars for petty offenses.
If you need to be schooled on just how bad it gets, head over to Netflix and check out Ava DuVernay’s 13th ,or if you’re in the mood to be wearied by tears, you can click on the The Kalief Browder Story.
The sobering docu-series gives an in depth and searingly affecting examination of how a 16-year-old boy from the Bronx was thrown into solitary confinement for two years at Rikers Island for stealing a backpack.
Kalief Browder was innocent, but that innocence was ironically the element of danger that robbed him of who and what he was supposed to become.
Sandra Bland just turned 32 not too long ago, and her birthday party happened without her because she’s not alive.
She was marked for death the moment the White cop approached her car after she pulled over. A simple traffic violation turned into a physical assault that was graphically brutal, and included head slamming into the concrete ground, and being dragged around like a lifeless puppet before being tossed into the vehicle for the final journey of her lifetime.
There are plenty more cases to present, but the main themes highlight the cold hard truths of existing while Black, in a society that has been systemically wired against you and those you love.
Police officers don’t give a shit if you apologize, and the justice system hands down the maximum regardless of whether or not it’s logical.
A White teen can drive drunk and kill and maim those who are unfortunate to cross paths with a White privileged offender, and by the time he turns 21, the barriers have parted for his return to society.
A Black teen is wrongfully accused of stealing a backpack that contains the prized possessions of a relatively expensive camera and iPod Touch, and he gets the same treatment reserved for infamous serial killers.
So, to the privileged White men, who think they’re boiling in the pressure cooker of controversy; you really honestly have no idea what it means to be truly fucked for life.
Your ancestors did a great disservice to Black people, and those atrocities are active in the verified remnants that continue to permeate with the furiousness of how White supremacy remains the preferred currency, that gave desperate White people the audacity to elect a White supremacist as president.
It’s always so easy and instinctual to take ownership of your desires above anything or anyone that could threaten that privilege, but when it comes to reenacting the vileness that represents a era when Black people were bargained and sold, and then mutilated for daring to exist in their Blackness — while enduring the degradation of Blackness to the delight of White audiences — all bets are off.
Northam and Herring are sorry for themselves because of the pledge of White victimhood and how it guarantees that the vulnerability that comes with being human will compensate for dire mistakes.
If they were truly inconsolable over the damage that has been done, and how the trigger-worthy consequences are weighty enough to vilify them for life — both men would have readily resigned. Instead they are selfishly and inconsiderately holding on to a fading reality with the gusto that proves why saying “you’re sorry” rarely matches the sincerity that’s obviously a facade for good measure.
They are both not forgiven.
And even if the resignations do happen, the aftermath will be meaningless because of the exertion it took for these men to step outside of themselves for the necessary task of doing the right thing.
I guess that’s why White privilege means never being sorry enough to be truly sorry.