Nia Lazarus: Have you apologized for your past racist actions?
Have you apologized for your past racist actions or plan to apologize? Watch this really good vlog by Nia Lazarus. –Video description: a Black Deaf woman with long locs, wearing round, transparent purple glasses, and a white polo shirt expressing herself in American Sign Language.[Start transcript]I want to talk about something I’ve been thinking about for the last few days.I’ll start with a question.Have you ever experienced apologizing for your past racist actions and were confused when you got negative reactions and wondered,“But why are they still mad at me? I apologized!”? Then this video is for you.Or, have you ever experienced witnessing another person apologizing for their past racist actions and you were confused, wondering, “Why are they angry? That was an apology! Why are they mad?" Then this video is the right place for you.Before I go into that topic, I want to make something particularly clear.Generally speaking, what is the purpose of an apology? It is to acknowledge that my past actions were wrong, harmful, not okay, not acceptable, and to acknowledge the other person / group's pain and negative feelings caused by my past behavior.An apology includes no expectations of getting something in exchange, like a "forgive and forget" attitude, or a blissful reconnection, or being welcomed with open arms, and so on. All of those things are considered expectations and those expectations should be thrown out the window. Why? Your expectation should be for yourself only. Meaning that your goal should be to focus on yourself, looking within so you can unpack any negative traits and thinking. So you can figure how you can become a better person, grow, and improve. There's no agenda behind an apology. Your daily actions show—make it clear to the other person, or group, that your apology was actually genuine or that it wasn't genuine. Because actions speak louder than words.It's also important to remember that it's their decision how they want to react—respond to your apology. Why? Because it's their pain, not yours. So, it's their decision how they want to heal, how they feel, whether they heal quickly or for a long time, how they create their boundaries with you, what kind of relationship they want to maintain with you—whether it's to be friends, keep strict boundaries, be civil, walk away, maintain no contact—whatever. It's their decision.So, I think what I just talked about applies to most, if not all, kinds of apologies.Now, back to apologizing for past racist actions.Yeah, it can be really brutal to get negative reactions after apologizing, I can understand that. It can be confusing and make you wonder, “Did I do the wrong thing? I was trying to do the right thing. I don't get it, I was thought I was being anti-racist.” So, you might be thinking, "Okay, if I stay quiet and don't apologize, then people would be angry with me, asking, "Why are you quiet? Does that mean that you’re racist?” Or "Did you think that behavior was okay?” But if I do apologize, people would be still angry with me, not believing me and calling me a hypocrite. What am I supposed to do?” I understand that.So, here's some advice: ABC.First, A. A for "acknowledge" (fingerspells "acknowledge") And "apologize." (fingerspells "apologize”) A. Acknowledge the harm of your racism and the pain that you caused the other person / group, and apologize.Now, the next one: B. B for "brace yourself" and "bear the brunt.” “Brunt” being the barrage of negative reactions. So, brace yourself and accept any negative reactions and comments from Black people. Why? Because we are angry, doubtful, distrustful, and other feelings. All of our feelings, all the different kinds, are valid. Why? Black people have a very long history of getting insincere apologies, vague resolutions, broken promises, and lies when it comes to us getting justice as Black people in education, hospitals, housing, banking, law, television, and so on. All of that has been happening for 400 years, so how can we know for certain that your apology is genuine? We have a hard time trusting someone's words without seeing everyday, consistent action—anti-racist action consistently. That's the only way we can confirm and know that your apology was sincere.The last one, the third letter: C. C for "challenge," "change," and "cancel.” So, you challenge yourself to change—for yourself. And “cancel” any expectations for Black people to praise you and say, "You're no longer racist!” Also, “cancel” any expectations of outsiders—non-black people, to "confirm" that you're not racist, while you eat up the approval.So, ABC again.A: acknowledge and apologize.B: brace yourself and bear the brunt, because our anger is valid.And C: challenge yourself to change and “cancel" any expectations you may have.I'll admit that when I saw the apology videos and posts, I was unfazed. (fingerspells "unfazed”) I was indifferent. It was hard for me to trust whether the apologies were genuine or not.Because one of the first things that came to mind was: "Would they have admitted that if they were feeling embarrassed, exposed, or caught?” I wondered if they were apologizing for the sake of saving their reputations. I'm not sure what to think, because I feel like, "Good on you to acknowledge your racism and apologize, yes. But, that's only "step one." I need to see "step two.” "Step two" means consistent anti-racist action from here on out and what you plan to do after apologizing. I want to see action that match your words. Because I don't know the intention of your apology without seeing action. Also, my concern is, I'm not sure if you feel like "I'm relieved to have an audience watching what I'm saying, because they'll think that I'm not racist and it'll be taken care of.” I can't know what you're thinking.If you find yourself feeling defensive or upset about you or someone else getting angry reactions, then that's a problem for two reasons.The first reason. Do you remember what I said about apologies? Your negative, defensive reaction is a sign that you're disappointed because you expected something else. Other than our reactions. Because this is our pain. After a long history of racism, we have the right to decide how we want to react, you know? And you should throw out your expectations about how we should react. Focus on yourself and taking anti-racist actions from here on out. Because your apology is for us and is not about you.The second reason. If you don't understand the negative reactions then do you really understand why we're angry in the first place? And why we feel so uneasy? So, it's important that you acknowledge your past actions, apologize, accept all of our feelings as valid, and focus on moving forward, doing better from here on out. Because that will show your true intentions.There's one last thing that I must mention. Definitely hats off to—it's a good thing that people are acknowledging and apologizing for their past racist actions. Because it takes a lot of courage and maturity to do that. I have to recognize that.That's the reason why I strongly believe that it should be normalized to admit to and name your past racist actions without waiting to be exposed or caught and embarrassed, feeling obligated to say something. It would be better to openly talk about what you did without being prompted. Because that is a right—a step in the right direction. It would encourage everyone to also look inwards, unpack negative thinking, racist thinking, and biases. That's how you can be anti-racist.I hope this video was helpful.Thanks for watching.[End transcript.]Posted by The Daily Moth on Wednesday, June 24, 2020