By: Iyabo Onipede: Confluence Daily is your daily news source for women in the know
Confession time. I have this thing about apologies – I cannot stand them. Secretly, I think I am an unforgiving person. Yes, me! Apologies stink. It’s as if every person that ever apologized to me just kept on with the same behavior. And public apologies by public figures? Even worse. They come up with “I am sorry if you felt offended at my remark that you interpreted as racist, sexist, etc…..” Or worse, “I am sorry you misunderstood my remark…”
Sheesh. No. Not. Don’t do it. No way.
But then, my therapist, long time ago, told me this was my issue to work on. Whatever.
Then recently, I listened to Brene Brown’s new podcast “Unlocking Us” where she interviewed Harriet Lerner: “I’m Sorry: How To Apologize & Why It Matters” and I understood why I don’t like apologies. I don’t think I have ever really experienced a wholehearted apology.
The first thing is that if you are in relationship with a human being, you are going to have “ouch” moments. Apologies are designed to open up a conversation and become a portal for healing, if it is done right.
Since I heard this podcast and I am now developing a growing edge around apologies, I listen keenly to hear the words of the apology and feel it in my body to discern if it is genuine.
The reason I never really liked apologies? I have not heard people take responsibility for their behavior and want to change. Sure, you do not change overnight but somethings do require change.
For instance, when a presidential candidate assumes that he can speak for an entire demographic that is oppressed.
Jeepers, Joe Biden, what were you thinking? Too much is as stake.
The BBC reports of an interview Joe Biden had on an African American radio show this past week.
“Near the end of the interview, Charlamagne told Biden that he had more questions when Biden replied: ‘You’ve got more questions?’ Biden replied. ‘Well I tell you what, if you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.’ “
This was offensive to the entire African American populous. Sigh!
Why you might ask?
Not because Joe is wrong. I actually agree with Joe that another 4 years of what is currently in the white house will decimate the brown and Black population in this country. But that is besides the point.
Joe Biden lacks the “standing” to make such a statement.
The statement is primarily a statement of identity. A white person can never, ever, never, tell Black people who they are as a collective. It is oppressive. It is an act of domination. It strips away identity and humanity.
It also assumes that we are a monolith and there are no individuals in the group who can think for themselves.
Epic fail and misstep on your part, Uncle Joe who sometimes has the creepy hands. Now, was he consciously thinking that he wanted to oppress Black people with this statement? I doubt it. But a filter or warning that he was overstepping just did not do a pop-up in his brain when he said those words.
Let me be clear. Joe is the candidate. He is the one. Period. If he brings bozo the clown as a running mate, he still must get the votes. Otherwise, we – all of us people – white, brown, Black, purple – our lives are in peril with the status quo.
AND Yes, there are issues. Let us hold both in delicate tension. It is what we have. The ideal is an illusion right now.
There are rarely ideal candidates. I love President Obama more than anything, but he hurt me and the immigrant population with his policies in ways that most of the folks on my timeline are oblivious to.
Yet, he was as close to perfect as I can imagine.
Now, Joe? Issues. Yes. And apology or not, we know he is clueless about a lot of things.
But Joe nailed this apology. He takes personal responsibility. None of that, “I am sorry you felt hurt” BS.
The BBC reports, “Mr. Biden scrambled to make amends on a call later to black business leaders.
‘I should not have been so cavalier,’ he said. ‘I’ve never, never, ever taken the African American community for granted.’
He added: ‘I shouldn’t have been such a wise guy.’
He continued: ‘No-one should have to vote for any party based on their race, their religion, their background.’ “
And he further said, “I was making the point that I never take the vote for granted and in fact, I know in order to win the presidency, I need the African American vote.”
Now, that last line? He tried to clean that up nicely. Not sure it worked, Uncle Joe. Not sure. But I am glad you made that statement.
People, forgiveness (Ah!) is in order here. Let me tell you why. Yes, he is clueless and I firmly suspect he does not “get” how egregious his offense is to African Americans, someone coached him on what to say, and he apologized. And he will not be making that mistake again!
The fact that he can take responsibility for his error speaks volumes. As he said, he is a “wise guy.” And he has this very “jump first then think about it afterward” approach. We are used to good leaders being deliberate and not careless. We want him to not be a wise guy.
But that is who he is, and I believe his creepy hands and his oblivious racialized statements are just part of his “wise guy” personality. He is an older white male of a certain age and status. People have not told him the truth and have not held him accountable. He has not had to learn. And now, we are holding him accountable. And he is showing us that he can learn by making such an apology.
Hold him accountable AND vote for him. Not voting is not an option. Every non-vote is a vote for the status quo who is trying to kill us by asking us to drink disinfectants and opening up churches by fiat (separation of church and state, anyone?). There is no other option.
If you choose not to vote, then you are the privileged of the privileged because you are not thinking of the consequences of your non-vote on lives like mine. It’s just that simple. Only the privileged whose lives are not affected by anything that has happened over the last 3 1/2 years can justify not voting.
I have hope that cluelessness can be taught and trained. I do not have hope that wickedness and evil will bring anything good over the next four years.
Thank you for your apology Joe Biden. You took personal responsibility. I accept it for myself.
Iyabo is a Leadership Development Coach whose work focuses on the soul of the leader. She moves leaders from thriving careers into discovering, crafting and living into their life work. By helping successful people integrate spirituality into their leadership roles, they become more engaged with their work, expand the connection of their work to social justice issues and experience more satisfaction in their life work. Using the power of narrative and reflection, she helps leaders fine-tune the sacred “work their souls must have” (Alice Walker).
Iyabo is located in Atlanta, Georgia and graduated from Goucher College (B.A.), Georgetown University Law School (J.D.) and Candler School of Theology at Emory University (M.Div.).
Iyabo’s home on the web is at http://www.coachiyabo.com
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