New Jersey tonight joined a list of states that have apologized for slavery, after lawmakers overwhelming passed a resolution expressing the state’s regret. The resolution merely offers the Legislature’s opinion and would not require the governor’s signature. It would be recorded in the state annals of declarations. The resolution’s sponsor, Assemblyman William D. Payne (D., Newark), noted that New Jersey had 12,000 slaves and was the last Northern state to free them. Last night, New Jersey became the first Northern state to apologize. “This is an apology for their descendants . . . and all mankind,” he said.
Not everyone in New Jersey is completely overwhelmed by p.c. run amok:
…Assemblyman Richard A. Merkt (R., Morris) said that the resolution was the first step toward reparations – the controversial idea of compensating slavery’s descendants. He said he would have supported a resolution expressing the state’s regret, but not an apology. “Most of the ancestors of today’s New Jersey residents did not even arrive in the U.S. prior to the emancipation of the slaves,” he said. “None of us can truly apologize because none of us was responsible for it.” The resolution passed the Assembly 59-8, with eight members abstaining. It passed the Senate 29-2, without debate.
As a native South Jerseyan, I am not surprised by these misplaced priorities.
On a lighter note, I also know there are a lot of other, more immediate offenses New Jersey should be apologizing for–starting with that foul, mystery odor that blanketed South Jersey over the weekend.
What else should NJ apologize for? Feel free to chime in with your suggestions.
Flashback: I still want my reparations! Russell Simmons, you owe me:
Russell Simmons, a wealthy hip-hop music executive, is marketing the reparations gospel to black youths under the modernized demand for “40 acres and a Bentley.” He’s also using the movement to sell his own line of “Phat Classic” sneakers…
…My ancestors from the Philippines were enslaved by Spain and forced to build and man the galleons that brought Hispanic explorers to America. During World War II, my relatives were subjected to extreme physical and economic oppression under Japanese occupation. During the 1920s, the states of California and Hawaii imported 50,000 laborers from my ancestral homeland to toil on American farms. Filipinos also worked on agricultural fields in Oregon, Washington, Arizona, and Montana. In addition, my people built levees in the San Joaquin Delta and slaved away in fisheries and lumber mills up and down the West Coast in horrid conditions.
During that time of servitude, Filipinos faced rampant societal and governmental discrimination. They were barred from voting, owning land, or starting businesses of their own in California. Anti-miscegenation laws in 16 states kept my ancestors from legally marrying white women. Until 1947, it was illegal in California for Filipinos to marry whites. In Alaska, cannery workers from the Philippines were segregated and barred from many establishments that hung signs like “No dogs or Filipinos allowed.”
Crunching the reparations numbers, every American of Spanish descent owes me $514,000 plus compound interest. Adjusted for inflation, every fellow countryman of Japanese descent owes $750,222. California residents owe my family an even $300,000. Alaskans, Hawaiians, Oregonians, Washingtonians, Arizonans, and Montanans must pay $75,000 to atone. And anyone else — white, black, or otherwise — whose family members ingested Filipino-harvested asparagus, peas, cauliflower, onions, tomatoes, grapes, or fish, or who burned Filipino-cut firewood, or who lived in homes built of Filipino-sawed lumber from 1923-1947, can settle their debt by sending me a check for $999.99.
As for Russell Simmons, you owe me, too. A free pair of your $65 Phat Classic shoes should cover my pain. I wear a women’s size 6-1/2. No sneakers, no peace.