Click on the following link to go to The Apology Website in order to write and read apologies for racism. In the meantime, here is one apology which I have written to express my heartfelt concern and my acknowledgment of racism and my desire to replace white privilege with love. Thank you for reading this writing from my new book, The Apology: My Love Letter to Heal Racism, A One-of-A-Kind Social Justice Picture Book (2019).
The Apology by Elana Felice Stanger, L.C.S.W.
As I prepare this writing, my apology to Black People of the African Diaspora, and to All People of Color Everywhere, I first would like to acknowledge that there are many differences within all individuals reading these words, and that all human beings are unique and special. While many if not all People of Color have been hurt by the ogre of racism, perhaps it has been through various and diverse ways and different experiences. Every Person of Color is unique and different, no two people have exactly the same feelings, nor the same responses or reactions to this kind of abuse. Social oppression is experienced by people of many groups in some different and some similar ways.
In this case, I wanted to carve out a safe space to hopefully focus on the brunt that People of Color bear as the innocent targets of the social oppression we refer to as racism, which revolves around skincolor, skin privilege, and the lack thereof. My apology goes out to All People of Color– and even to White People toward the end of this writing– with much love (White People have been forced into the oppressor role and divided against our collective will from the rest of humanity with whom we would otherwise love to share Planet Earth.) With this writing, I have tried to honor our diversity and our unity– and our uniqueness as well as our collective group experiences.
How will we know when we have succeeded in building a world that works for all? We must all answer this question for ourselves to be sure of our real and true feelings and thoughts. However, for myself, I would pose that unity indicates a real harmony among all human beings. It indicates a new condition wherein all human beings have their basic needs met for food, shelter and clothing without stress or hardship, and all enjoy doing the work of their hearts and minds, employing their spiritual and God-granted gifts in their true work. Everyone’s need for closeness, help, support, belonging, acceptance, and creative self-expression including cultural self-expression and the expression of our uniqueness and diversity is understood and all are welcomed by one another to be our full and best selves. All relationships are happy bonds characterized by fairness, altruism, mutual understanding, and unconditional love. All of our needs are met with beauty and grace, by all of us working together for the common good and the good of each and every one. All are included in this and none are left out any longer. By living this way, we have invited the Divine into our World more deeply, acknowledging the Divine Spark in each and every one. We are all made equal and perfect as we are all made Divine in the Image of The Lord Above, Our Beloved Creator, The One Source of All Life and All Unity.
Praise the Lord. Hallelujah!
To All of My Dear Human Brothers and Sisters… At the heart of it, we are all children of God The Most High, brothers and sisters striving to connect with each other in unity, through love and truth, respect and dignity, honor and grace. This is true of all of us. None of us would have chosen to create the oppressive system in which we live. However, it is everyone’s responsibility to help everyone eliminate oppression and become free of the relational dynamics of domination and subjugation. It is the oppressor who creates the oppressed according to Franz Fanon. When the oppressor stops oppressing, there will be justice and peace will become real to all. Amen.
We all want human liberation. Let us start a new world of social justice, peace, love and unity. The time is now for peace and love, brother-sisterhood and unity. All are welcome and invited to begin to create this world of love, peace, justice and unity together as one race: the HUE♥MYN one.
Dear Black People of the African Diaspora… An apology is to be made by all of us to Black People who have been and still are severely targeted with the injustices of racism. First and foremost, we see your patience and your willingness to overcome oppression. You have waited much too long a time to hear our words of acknowledgment, for the injustices you have faced span from the United States Enslavement of Black African-Americans, to the laws of Jim Crow, to discrimination in housing, employment, the legal system, and social relations, to police brutality and more.
We impoverished you, forcing you to live in substandard housing and work in the lowest jobs within our society. We tortured you during the course of the days of your enslavement and we continue to torture you with our current abuse. We must together break this cycle of abuse. We must rid ourselves of the mentality of domination and subjugation, superiority and inferiority. Of course, while we must all make the necessary changes, and we will all grow together in peace, it is the People Considered to be White who must make the greatest changes as we take the necessary steps to concede our privilege and the riches we have attained through this abuse of People of Color and the Earth Herself. The Earth’s Great Bounty is for you also, even as it does not belong to any single one of us, personally or collectively… The World Belongs to God Alone.
I cannot help but think of the Golden Rule, and its significance: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you… However, we have unfortunately been remiss in the practice of the Golden Rule, as People with White Skin Privilege. I am heartbroken at the ways in which we caused you stress, mental illness, disease, and death. We imprisoned you and created a steady stream of inmates of so many of your people, straight from the schools where Black People could have otherwise been fairly educated and had a better chance at life. We profited financially from your enslavement, from the incarceration of Black People, your mistreatment and abuse. We stereotyped you and played up images that fueled more and more of our irrational fear. We have attacked your families, separating fathers and mothers and children, introducing guns and drugs into many already-impoverished Black communities from which we leeched out all of your hope for a better tomorrow. Your anger is nothing but righteous and justified. Your anger is nothing to be ashamed of. The shame is ours, not yours. And there is too much for us to be ashamed of. We have turned our backs, turned away from what we knew or suspected to be true.. that you were always our equal counterparts and potential friends, confidants, teachers, students, lovers, allies, supporters, caregivers, fellow citizens, spiritually Divine Kings and Queens like we all are.
We became so insensitive. Our hearts hardened like The Pharaoh in Egypt in the Torah story of the Exodus where my people, the Jews, were enslaved. The word that represents the spiritual meaning of Egypt to the Jews, the place of their enslavement in the Torah is, Mitzrayim, which is translated as The Narrow Place. It was God Alone who brought us all out of this Narrow Place of our Enslavement, with an outstretched arm, signs and wonders. He fed us in the desert as we wandered for 40 years until we could eventually come into a new land for our inheritance, the Land of Israel or Eretz Yisrael. You also demanded and continue to demand, Let My People Go!” as we did through Moses who represented us. And we became free… eventually… with the Utmost Faith in God.
White People have rarely budged in their hearts. Our hearts have remained closed. What will open them? Our minds stay in denial. We refuse to open our eyes. The time is coming though, for us to make amends with you. We cannot breathe the air of peace either, until we are one with you again. Let the truth be stated.
Once again, I feel it is important to acknowledge that not everyone reading this apology will read it in the same way. All people are different from one another, and this diversity is a quality in all life which makes it holy and beautiful. Before I continue, I feel the need to remind readers that I am aware that not everything here applies to everyone reading. All readers are diverse. We also want all people reading this to notice that while Black People may come from various economic backgrounds and experiences, from having only a few dollars in your pocket only for life’s necessities, to experiencing the privilege of financial wealth, your racial identity may still also be extremely salient for you as someone who identifies racially as a Black Person. While economic opportunity may have buffered some of the hard blows of racism for some, it has landed hard on the cheeks of many others regardless of how much money you may have. Racism has impacted most if not all People of Color despite socioeconomic class background or income.
To all of you Black Sisters and Brothers who have borne the brunt of racism, I want to express the deep sadness that wells up in me every time I think about you this way. You are all holy survivors, less than victims. The resilience you have developed is great. Despite this, I feel regret at the humiliation, misery and indignity we have caused you. I hope it is not too late for all of us to apologize, as a veil has now been lifted and through a new lens of awareness, we are now able to see the costs to you of this unjust system which we have knowingly or unknowingly perpetuated, as well as the costs to our own collective soul. Our desire to remain in denial was stronger than our desire to embrace the truth. Until now, we agreed to ignore the problems your communities face in isolation. We wanted, simply and ignorantly, to believe that you brought these difficulties upon yourselves. Perhaps due to our own feelings of powerlessness and helplessness, as well as guilt, we were previously unwilling to understand that White people receive social and economic privileges that you do not, and on a daily basis.
For denying and depriving your people of the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; for excluding you from leadership roles and resources in the land we are all meant to share; for making one-sided decisions that did not take into account your valuable and precious input; for taking credit for your accomplishments as if they were our own… we owe you our most sincere apology.
We, who have been the beneficiaries of White Skin Privilege, must pledge our unending allegiance and solidarity to your people, The Black People of the African Diaspora. We acknowledge that we have benefited from identifying ourselves as White while denying you the rights, privileges and opportunities we have enjoyed. This is so unfair. Additionally, we will no longer underestimate the many ways and the extent to which we have hurt you and your pride by labeling you as somehow different when we really are very much the same. We are all human beings, with hopes, dreams, goals and glories to achieve in life. Racism has diverted so many away from their rightful work and rightful paths to greatness, glory and success. Langston Hughes said it clearly and best within one of his great poems, A Dream Deferred. Hughes asks, “What Happens to a Dream Deferred?” We should have always honored your right to be all you could be, everywhere in the world.
We will now bear witness to your pain and we will do everything in our power to right the atrocities and wrongs that were done to you, our Sisters and Brothers, in our names.
And we will stop acting as if you are not whole and still intact. We will see the richness and beauty and strength of your families. From now on, we will notice and recognize you for all you have been able to achieve, all the ways in which you have grown stronger because of the adversity you have experienced, and all of the ways in which you are a thriving Black People. We will stop defining Black People by only one narrative, that of enslavement, while also acknowledging that the historical abuse of Black People and the U.S. Enslavement was and is real.
We will also acknowledge, honor, respect and appreciate Black beauty. Inviting all to participate and be included, and without culturally appropriating Black styles of beauty or simply objectifying you and/or your images, we aim to make all of our institutions, including the media and entertainment industries, more inclusive… together. You are, and have always been, perfectly beautiful. This means all of you, from your head to your toes. In fact, all Black People are beautiful, and all people deserve our attention, whether they are featured in the media or otherwise.
For all the pain we have caused to you, and for neglecting to notice your preciousness…
We are sorry. We apologize.
An acknowledgement of mistreatment and an apology is due to All People of Color. Native American Indians, Latino Americans, and Asian Americans… I am sorry for the racism that White people of European American heritage have perpetrated against you.
Dear Native American Indians, First Peoples and First Nations Brothers and Sisters… You were the first peoples to inhabit this land, and you deserve our apology, our attention, and our restitution also. We took your land from you, forced you out of your homes, cheated, raped and stole from you. We appropriated your culture. We made it appear as though your ways and customs, your beautiful art and your spiritual understanding of reality, could simply be relegated to the past. However, thankfully, you are still alive today, intact, resilient, strong, striving and thriving. You are all owed a great debt, and we must pay you back all you have lost.
Native Americans, First Peoples, First Nations Brothers and Sisters, you shared this land with us as it was your way, knowing that the land belongs to God and it is for everyone to share. We stole your money, your land, your art and your cultures. White European American People of my skin hue took advantage of the kindness you showed to us when the first White People landed and settled here among your Great and Holy People. You already lived here and thrived here, peacefully enjoying the full bounty of God’s Great Earth. You taught us how to live on the land, gave us your knowledge and wisdom in agriculture and farming. Instead of honoring you for this, we killed you. We stole. We raped. We lied. We cheated you. We murdered your family members. We tried to erase your languages. We corrupted your spiritual traditions. We forced you out. We forced you onto the Trail of Tears, never to see your families and your homes again. We are terribly sorry we have done this to our Sisters and Brothers!
We cry in sadness, too, today, my people with your people and with all people. The world cries with The People of the First Nations, for if we had let you live in peace and offered you our hands in lovingkindness, we could have co-created a different and better life together in this world.
For what it is worth, I would like to finally say thank you for all you have shared with us all, all humanity, with an open-hand and an open-heart. We now state that we fully understand, and deeply regret, the way we have shockingly mistreated you as well as the other peoples in our midst with whom we could have rightfully shared everything rather than destroyed everything that was meaningful and good and righteous and holy. Somehow, through the grace of God, Our Creator, we have all survived and we are being granted now another chance to respect, honor, cherish and love one another. We will find a way to right these wrongs and create together a more perfect world – One Nation under God Indivisible with Liberty and Justice for All.
Dear Latino/Latinx Brothers and Sisters… Our Latino/Latinx Sisters and Brothers also require our love and acknowledgment. We must make amends, for we have also mistreated you. We have discriminated against Good and Innocent Latino People. All Latino People are different, from many varied cultures and heritages. Puerto Rico, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Argentina, Spain, Costa Rica, and many more… We lumped you all together in one box. We also acknowledge that you come from various economic backgrounds and experiences, from poor to privileged, and that while this may perhaps make your people economically diverse, you may also experience very difficult experiences as targets of racism. Although financial wealth and opportunity may belong to some, for many of you, it may still seem far out of reach.
We forced many of you to work at the hardest jobs or forgo any employment at all. We forced you to live in substandard housing. We did not acknowledge your educational level or knowledge. We refused to try to pronounce your full and beautiful names. We did not hire or promote you. We segregated you. We relegated you to the sidelines in so many ways. We held you back. We moved you to the background of our television shows, media and entertainment programs. We made you work in the kitchens of our restaurants and bus our tables for lower pay while never giving you a chance to work front of house. We eliminated you from our workplaces and our institutions of higher learning. We paid you lower salaries. We forced drugs into your communities. We sent you to prison. We separated your families. We have tried to build walls—not merely architecturally, but psychologically and emotionally—to keep you at a distance. We did not learn to speak your languages; we forced you to learn to speak English only. We confused one Latin country and culture with another, as if they were all interchangeable. For all of this, we apologize. We are sorry. We aim to make amends and balance the power for all of us, engaging in joint dialogue to learn to share resources and to create a just and equal world that works for all. Amen.
Dear Asian American Sisters and Brothers… You, also, deserve our apology. First and foremost, your People comprise many diverse Asian cultures, and this must also be acknowledged. You come from all over the world: Chinese, Malaysian, Indonesian, Indian, Nepalese, Filipino, Korean, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Japanese… and so many more cultures… all different and special. We apologize for all the ways we missed opportunities to get to know you, and I hope we can make amends and become closer friends going forward, as we also respect and value your human dignity and human worth…
Chinese People were instrumental in building the American Railroad System, and you did not receive the credit you still deserve. Good and Innocent Japanese American People were inhumanely placed into internment camps during World War II and mistreated. We forced you to leave your homes, we confiscated your property. We took these erroneous actions as we lied to ourselves and everyone, stating that you were untrustworthy, when we were the people who were actually untrustworthy. Look at what we did to you! We cast you out this way, from being and feeling like true and full Americans. We also recall Hiroshima and Nagasaki with an annual day of remembrance. Is it enough? Can’t we also try to do more to suture the bond between our diverse people?
I wish we could take back all of these crimes against humanity. These are crimes that we perpetrated against you. However, while we cannot take back what we did, we can hopefully, make reparations to you and make amends as we all move forward together in harmony. In this way, we shall eventually come to know and realize the lasting peace that comes from publically and formally acknowledging our wrongdoing before God.
We denied your rights to maintain your cultures and your languages. We appropriated your foods and other cultural gifts, without acknowledgment or appreciation. The many martial arts, energy healing, and mindfulness meditation practices that have been adopted by many United States Americans of all cultures stem directly from your cultures. You shared so many wonderful, life-enhancing, and life-sustaining practices with all people, with great humility. For these, and so many other gifts you have shared, we must give thanks, acknowledge you, and grant you your due.
At the same time you shared with us—your spiritual practices, your advanced technology, your medical cures, your holistic healing methodologies and special, medicinal herbs—we still did not make any room for you to share your unique stories and experiences with us. We did not listen well. We made you feel invisible in many ways. We treated you as if you were different when we really are all the same. We stereotyped you and called you names. We lumped you all into one general category with one general label, when you are truly a People who comprise many various cultures, traditions, languages, and experiences. We must get to know you, in all of your wholeness, in all of your glorious uniqueness. We must learn to embrace you all fully, each one of you.
Of course, Asian People may become anything they want to become and pursue any career they wish to pursue. We apologize for thinking you were only good at certain subjects in school, or areas of focus in the workplace and wider world. May all of us fully expand our understanding to acknowledge that all things are possible for you.
Your features are perfect and beautiful. I am sorry my people only espoused one brand of beauty and did not make room for you and yours also. To every Asian person… Please go on shining your individual and unique beauty for all to see, know and appreciate. Everyone is unique, lovely, and beautiful in their own way…
With fully loving and open hearts, we are now ready to receive all that you are and all that you bring to the world, and to give you the gifts we have to offer as well. We will appreciate with acknowledgment, all of the diverse gifts each one of you brings. We will celebrate your individuality while also respecting your families, rituals, and cultures. We will make room from now on, for you to be and share all of your precious God-given gifts, and all that you are, with all of us throughout whole world, and only with love, appreciation and respect, from now on.
And to All People… Let there no longer be limits on all that you are, all that you do, all that you may become, nor all you may attain within your individual lives and in the wider world. Amen!
Dear Beloved White European American Sisters and Brothers… I know it is not easy to look at these issues related to racism, the issues on which this book is centered. Perhaps you feel you are being unjustly blamed for all the world’s problems. You may also feel unfairly singled out, targeted also. Maybe you also have had a hard life and you have borne the brunt of oppression in your own way. I want to take a moment and thank you for reading this far, and I want to let you know that I am aware that you also may have been the target of some kind of oppression. Even as a White person, you may experience oppression based on size, age, ability, sexual orientation, gender, nationality, ethnicity, religion or faith, socioeconomic background or class, etc. You may have struggled often as well, and you may be wondering why this apology isn’t directly about you and your oppression…
That is fair. However, as I mentioned before, I wanted to simply try to carve out a safe space here, for us to just look at racism for once.
Perhaps, as you are reading, you still question whether this is right or not. You feel this is not your fault, this state of race relations, racism, and injustice. You are a good person. You are a well-meaning person. In fact, you may be a very generous person, and kind in addition. Some of you have done a lot of work to balance the playing field and you do care about the state of racism, race relations, and ending social oppression for all humanity. I also know this state of affairs is not your fault. However, it is your responsibility—and our collective responsibility—to make amends and change the world for the better, and to work together with everyone else to balance power and equal the playing field. Let us be Free At Last, Thank God Almighty, We Are Free At Last, in the words of the great and prophetic civil rights leader, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr..
Not one of us would have chosen to create this system in which we find ourselves forced into the role of oppressors, unfairly stealing the resources, hoarding them, and lording them over others without light skin nor European-American features. We regularly experience guilt, shame, blame, fear, and an attitude characterized by indifference or lack of care, which is truly part of the cover-up we may refer to more commonly as denial.
Let us offer our apology. Let our apologies lead to action, renewed relationships, healing for all of us, and positive social change.
Dear White People… we must cease to exclude the rest of humanity from our day to day lives. We must become fully inclusive of everyone. In housing, employment, education, socially, and in every way, all are equally welcome and invited to share and participate in every institution everywhere. We must strive for unity with the entire race, one Human Family of Love. We will stop relegating anyone else to the sidelines. We will stop distancing ourselves and living in isolation from the others mentioned above… White People need everyone together and unified for our own liberation and the liberation of Planet Earth. Let us look at this more carefully together. It is more than balancing the playing field anymore. We must make amends, make restitution, and fall in love with everyone with whom we share this Extraordinary Planet. Everything depends on us. Let’s finally come clean, and purify our hearts and minds. Let us end oppression everywhere together, with love for all humanity. The whole human race needs our support and love… NOW.
Every one of us, all sharing this One Beautiful Place we refer to as Earth, I call upon everyone to heal. We must cease to take for granted the holy and sacred resources of the Planet. We may begin by sharing everything with everyone, as we all cease to hoard everything we have, only for one group. We will heal. We will once again be happy. Rejoicing in justice and truth, together, we will bring about a state of peace, love and unity never before known on Planet Earth.
The letters of the word, Earth, are the same as in the word, Heart. Here on Earth, we are truly all part of one human race, and we must act now to realize our shared, common goals, sharing one heart and mind also. We now aim to make amends with all humankind until we are kind to each and every human.
Amen. Hallelujah! Praise God!
Elana Felice Stanger, L.C.S.W.
Many Blessings. I wish you freedom and the peace that goes along with it.