Wow. Are people really questioning the appropriateness of apologizing for profiting from the ownership and exploitation of human beings?
An apology is quite different from reparations, and the two terms shouldn’t be conflated. An apology is the acknowledgement and expression of regret of a wrong. In my opinion, there isn’t a statute of limitations on such an act.
For some reason a real stumbling block in this nation’s seeming inability to make much progress in regards to race relations is the inability to recognize what intergenerational transfer of wealth and societal privilege does for those advantaged, and those disadvantaged. Think of the number of people out there who by condition of their birth, receive inherited property or assets, have access to adequate schooling, health care, and protection (fire, police, etc.). In many cases, that has a lot to do with what advantages your parents had, which are passed along to the progeny. In of itself, this is perfectly normal and natural to do; however, when that privilege is a result of taking advantage of others, it is truly unfair.
And this isn’t “oh, my forefathers were smarter/faster/harder-working than yours.” This is “my forefathers did not consider your forefathers to be human beings, but profited from their labor without compensation, and furthermore instituted a reign of terror and brutal violence.” If you think that the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow has disappeared, I’d have to ask what is in the Kool-Aid you’ve been drinking. What evidence exists that after the Emancipation Proclaimation and the end of Jim Crow laws, everything is equal and fair?
Given the advantages and wealth accumulated by banks and companies that owned and subjugated African Americans in the past, I’d say an apology is the very least that should be done. Furthermore, it does absolutely nothing to reduce profits or market share. Even if one is cynical, why on earth would one think that this is an empty gesture?
I don’t see significant hope in improving race relations until the United States government also apologizes for its mistreatment of African Americans and Native Americans through the slave trade and Manifest Destiny.