If you are a white person, odds are pretty good that at some point you will say or do something obviously racist. If you are in a position of power this may be noticed and critiqued and contemporary mores dictate you compose an apology. Don’t worry, the apology doesn’t have to be meaningful, in fact here is how to write your very own white apology.
Frame the apology properly. You want to talk about how your critics took offense and not how you were abusive to them. Talking about offense rather than abuse also makes the critique look like a personal and opinion based grievance rather than the calm analysis of your actions it probably is. This is part of a broader societal strategy we have to make everything about how others have issues and never us. This lets you make an apology in name only when really it’s just berating your opposition for being too sensitive. As long as you only listen to white people you won’t hear any critique for this approach.
Use buzz words wherever you can. There are so many good ones to pick from. Charities have even started draining the term social justice of meaning if you can believe it. The best buzz words are ones appropriated from people of colour themselves. Another cool thing you can do with buzzwords is stack them. We actually offer an award for the most buzzwords in a single sentence. The current record holder is: We sincerely offer our sincerest apologies for our failure to nurture a multicultural, diverse, and broad community of learners who share and grow together in a environment of inclusion, togetherness and development without fear in an effort to join and come together with all in unity.
Make sure the incident is set alone. Statistics be damned you need to describe whatever happened as unique. The most effective way seems to be simply stating: this is an isolated incident, which thanks to the relative lack of investigative journalism often works. Another way to back up the “it is just one incident” move is punishment. Doing some punishment (or self-punishment) allows you to centre yourself and your punishment/penance above reparations and any meaningful moves towards justice. Whatever you do make sure you as the aggressor institution determines the type and level of punishment. This move also helps to make the incident look singular and superficially addressable rather than a systemic problem of your organization’s culture. Be warned people of colour who know about the police system and our prison culture firsthand are aware that punishment is inequitable and doesn’t do much to change further action. Tie this whole piece up by invoking your white saviour complex and talking about things you’ve done for other people in the past. Rub in their face all the “work” you’ve been doing to whitewash what they suffered and highlight all the advantages you’ve received for seeming nice in front of other white people.
Talk about what you have come to recognize through what you have done. This action, if done properly, should make you look like you are improving. This improvement should not be set against how far behind you really are. Referring to minorities as if they are in a solely statistical relationship not one of power is a subtle way to start off in this direction. You can talk about numbers this way and not treatment which would likely look much worse for you. Discuss how you are coming to understand and work with minorities and the structures you have to make sure they succeed to the limits you’ve prescribed for them. Other white people like this officialdom and how it tends to reinforce the labelling of everyone but themselves.
Finish up with more buzzwords focussing on togetherness. Talk about coming together, you have the position of power to make others unite to your whim, just make sure you spin it like a good thing. If you do this step correctly you can eliminate the significance of others’ cultures thereby making your apology seem even more graceful. It is very important that in the end you don’t explicitly state that the togetherness you seek is really assimilation/submission. If you let that out of the bag your white apology will be seen for the meaningless tripe that it is.