Apologies for Past Racism are not for Me.

For J.H. and C.M. and my students

Who are apologies for? I ask this question in ethics classes. My students and I have discussions about things like why people apologize, how, and when — especially the when, timing matters in apologies.

In the recent months, three groups I have some history with or current stakes in have issued what amount to apologies for past racism. Each time these statements were issued with grand fan fair, even in pandemic times — there were press releases, news stories, prepared speeches…