If you’ve been keeping a running tab on all the stories of racism recently reported in the media– from the subtle to the overtly ignorant and dumb — like I have, you already know how these incidents go. Non-black person says or does something racially offensive in a public forum; Black Twitter finds out, drags said racist for hours, situation goes viral; racist’s employer finds out and promptly shows them the door; racist claims ignorance and apologizes for their behavior; Black Twitter unanimously replies “too little too late” and pats themselves on the back for a job well done; non-Black person most likely continues racially insensitive behavior, just doesn’t publicize it.
That latter point is why apologies like the one recently offered up by Erika Escalante just need to stop. Erika is the not-so-bright 20-year-old Spanish linguistics major who tweeted a photo of her and a friend in a cotton field with the caption “Our inner n-gger came out today” and who lost her internship at Isagenix in Chandler, AZ, as a result. When Fox reached out to the college student and told her a lot of people think at her age she should’ve known better than to post what she did, she replied:
“Well yeah, people have been telling me that, and I do know better, my parents tell me you need to watch what you post, everybody tells me you need to watch what you post, and it was just a lack of my better judgment. I was not thinking at all.“I want to apologize to whoever I offended, I am sorry if you took this to heart, I am so sorry, I didn’t mean it at all, it was a mistake, that’s all I can say.”
The thing about these apologies is they scream obligatory and lack authenticity which is why, at this point, they’re best left unsaid. Apologizing to “whoever” you offend without realizing who the offended are and why tells me it’s only a matter of time before this behavior is repeated again, probably just in private because the only lesson these apologists ever seem to learn is not to let their inner Klansman show, not to stop being ignorant bigots. It’s also clear if there weren’t any consequences for their actions, the word “sorry” would never slip from their tongue. So I’m good. The knowledge that such ignorance has hit people like Erika where it hurts most — their wallets and reputations — is more satisfactory than any half-hearted apology.