By Steven Tavares
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“The government owes Americans an apology,” said Alameda County Board of Supervisors President Nate Miley said Tuesday morning during comments in support of a resolution asking the federal government to officially apology for acts of slavery perpetrated over the past 400 years. The board also asks for an unspecified amount in reparations to remedy the injustices of generations past, using similar instances around the world.

The excitable Miley said the long list of injustices against blacks typically upsets him, as he read a list of similar apologies and deals for reparations in this country and abroad. He says the the county’s resolution is based on the success of Japanese-Americans to gain redress for their internment during World War II. Miley also referred to land deals made with numerous Native American tribes along with reparations for the Jews by the German government and recent apologies by the prime minister of Australia to its own aboriginal peoples.

“We could do this for many people,” admitted Supervisor Keith Carson, who co-sponsored the resolution with Miley.

Himself remembers separate restrooms in Berkeley and hoping to only apply for dishwasher in Jack London Square.

“The apology is not about the past tense,” said Carson, who said he remembers racism in the not-so-distant-past as a youth growing up in the East Bay. He recounted segregated restrooms for whites and blacks in Berkeley and often found employment in Jack London Square was limited to the lowly dishwasher.

The problems borne out of slavery still exist today, he says, in the form of drugs in the inner cities and the high rate of incarcerations among young black men.

The prevalence of these problems have a direct effect on how the county administers funding for programs typically in support of poor minority groups. Black babies have an increased risk of being born premature, tend to have higher instances of dropping out of school and falling into poverty, said Miley. Because of the lack of health care, blacks also have a higher likelihood of facing medical problems later in life. All areas  that contribute to allocations of county funding to combat the problems.

“This is not a fluff resolution,” said Miley. “It has an affect on our county.”

Because of the disparities, I feel reparations are needed. I don’t need them, but my people need them.” Miley is urging others to call on Sacramento to pass a similar resolution and “sweep it across the country.”

Supervisor Wilma Chan agreed, “It’s a shame there are these disparities.”, She referred to the state Legislature cutting a small program to help black infants last year as proof racism still exists in government. “Why would you pick that?” she asked. “It’s a couple million out of hundreds of million. That shows there is something wrong.”

Congress has failed to walk in unison on the issue of reparations, although the U.S. Senate approved a resolution apologizing for slavery in June 2009. An amendment tacked on to the resolution, though, sidestepped the issue of reparations. The House of Representatives approved their resolution in 2008 without the reparations amendment.