Letter to the Editor:
I Accept the Apology
by Yohannes (Knowledge) Johnson
Bulls Head Oswego Meeting
This is a response to the “Apology to Afro-Descendents,” approved by NYYM in 2013 and reprinted in Sept. 2020's Spark. Knowledge is African-American and attends the Green Haven Prison Worship Group.
In their “Apology to Afro-Descendants” the New York Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) have made a powerful statement in bridging the gap that exists between people of greater and lesser hue. I have often wondered and asked myself what it would feel like to see and hear from one of a privileged group the words spoken on behalf of a collective and my prayers have been answered. I know it may not be much to many and is reflective of a small segment of the society we live in, but it is a start, a good start, in opening a dialogue between two groups whose relationship was legally established as being one between master and servant.
While today we are not responsible for the actions of our ancestors of recent and distant past, we share in collective responsibility today to correct those errors made then that still affect us today. And while there may have been those who may have hinted at a personal apology it seems as if their apology cloaked a hidden agenda that served only to reflect or shine a light upon them individually. I have experienced how hard it can be to apologize for past transgressions and know personally how hard it can be to admit being wrong, especially when it seems everyone seeks to be seen in a better or greater light.
But after all is said and done, I admit to a sense of shame but mostly relief having shed the burdens of carrying around the heavy burden of guilt. And the best part, or so it seems to me, is to be able to move forward in my new life as I strive to remain focused on not repeating the errors of my (or others) past actions but instead serving as an example how freely one can maneuver in life so as to assist others in their life’s journey, not as an adversary, but rather as an assistant or helpmate.