Posted on March 31, 2024

Is Sorry Enough? What Black Americans Are Owed in Reparations.

Rachel Hatzipanagos, Washington Post, March 26, 2024

Last year, a San Francisco panel came up with a proposal to offer reparations to its Black residents: Some would be eligible for $5 million each.

So far, all they’ve received is an apology.

“The San Francisco Board of Supervisors offers its deepest apologies to all African Americans and their descendants who came to San Francisco and were victims of systemic and structural discrimination, institutionalize racism, targeted acts of violence, and atrocities” the 8-page resolution reads.

The 11-member San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the apology in late February as the first step to addressing more than 100 recommendations outlined by the city’s African American Reparations Advisory Committee. The committee’s recommendations also included establishing an “Afrocentric” K-12 school and introducing mandatory Black history lessons for all grade levels.

Reparations advocates say that while an apology is a great first step in any reparations plan, it is merely the first step.

“Saying sorry or apologizing is not enough,” said Roy Brooks, a University of San Diego law professor and author of “When Sorry Isn’t Enough: The Controversy Over Apologies and Reparations for Human Injustice.” “You need a redemptive act to make the rhetoric of remorse believable.”


But the reparations plan has run into harsh economic realities.

In December, the city’s mayor London Breed, who is Black, announced $75 million in midyear budget cuts that slashed the $4 million set aside for the city’s proposed Office of Reparations, one of the key recommendations of the advisory committee. {snip}


San Francisco is not the only city that recently offered its residents an apology. In 2022, Boston became the first city to pass a resolution to apologize for its role in slavery. The move was mostly symbolic and seen as an “opening salvo” to conversations about reparations, Tania Fernandes Anderson, one of two council members to propose the apology, said at the time. Fernandes Anderson didn’t return an email for comment.