Sorry, but forced apologies are the worst. Why can’t we give up this dishonest ritual?

Forcing an apology is one of those nasty cultural rituals we refuse to let go of. Apologizing is supposed to make the offended person feel better after being harmed. And when a person truly understands and regrets the harm they’ve done and wants to make amends, a sincere apology is sometimes all it takes to mend the relationship. But would the offended person really feel better if they could tell it was all a hoax? And you can’t always speak?

I learned that from my friend Troy as an adult, when he introduced me to a new friend of his—a husky white man in a Budweiser hoodie named Wayne.

“We Bacardi and Cola are working, man,” Troy told me. “I’m telling you, Wayne is the coolest white guy since Eminem came out.”

Wayne, almost as tall as him, clutched his green truck driver’s hat, nodded and extended his arms for a handshake. I gave him a pound and welcomed him to the property.

“We don’t have a lot of white guys here,” I say, reviewing his denim clothing and Nike Cortez sneakers. “Stay close to Troy or they’ll think you’re a hitter.”

“Knockers?” Wayne replied, his face contorted into a question mark.

“It’s an undercover cop,” Troy laughed. “We call them hitters because they jump out of the car and hit you in the head.”

“It’s not the police in me, man!” Wayne shrugged. “Not a jot!”

There are some white people on our block – beaters, beat cops, housing cops, Johns Hopkins employees who are brave enough to park near us because they’re too cheap to pay for the hospital garage, plus the occasional addicts who go into the city looking for an explosion — but not any white residents or co-workers. The city of Baltimore is so segregated. We had to travel 15 minutes by car, or three hours by bus, to see white people.

Troy asked me if I wanted to go to the bar with them. “First round on me, brotha!” Wayne talked. “However, only beer, this is not pay week.”

“No, I’m fine,” I answer, finding my favorite place on the steps, where I like to eat sunflower seeds and watch the sun go down, and watch Bacardi and Cola come down the block.

Troy is like me when it comes to thinking and dreaming. We both had boundless curiosity, were always the first to hit the road and go to other cities and states, and we questioned everything. We didn’t listen to myths without baking the narrator and then going back to fact-check things. You had to be pretty sharp to pull a person over us. The difference between me and Troy, however, is that he has a need to connect and create relationships with all the people he has worked with throughout his collection of work. Think of one of those community college diversity flyers coming to life – it’s Troy. He introduced me to the first Koreans, Nigerians, Jamaicans, Swiss and Puerto Ricans I ever met. We even went on double dates with women from Alaska. Who knew there were black women from Alaska in Baltimore wanting to date street guys like us? Troy knows – who it is. I’ve always admired that about him. I had an impenetrable wall built around me. And in most cases people who aren’t from my neighborhood won’t get in.

Troy’s white friend Wayne became a fixture for the next three months. I hung out with them a few times to different lounges and bars-restaurants, and laughed when Wayne urged the Black girls. Well, at first, I laughed. But after a while, I started to feel uncomfortable, because his rapping was always like, “I feel so high in my soul, watch me work!” These words always came out in a country voice, half fake-want-to-have-black-ears.

“Yo, I’m not coming here anymore,” I told Troy one of the nights when Wayne sank into that stupid voice. “He also acts.”

So Troy approached Wayne and told him he had to relax.

“I’m sorry, man,” Wayne quickly replied. “I feel a little wild when the juice is in me, man.”

I always hate the way he talks brotha. And I hate it even more when he calls me brotha.

“Just call me D,” I told him more than once.

Each time, he would apologize with a blank shrug. “That sucks, D.”

Maybe his apology was sincere. Perhaps they came from the bottom of his heart. But he never really seemed to regret it. Those interactions leave me with an uneasy feeling that maybe he thinks I should be proud to be called “brotha” by him. I was not proud.

I am also stubborn. From an early age, I resisted the habit of saying “sorry” just because I wanted to say it. It reminds me of a time when I was five years old and I took the battery out of a remote and threw it at my cousin’s head with all my might.

“Tell your cousin you’re sorry!” my uncle shouted. The remote control almost broke him.

“Boy! Sorry!” he said, fog settling on his square frame. “And your dad will spank your ass!”

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” I said. “I won’t do that again.”

The point is, I’m not sorry. My cousin’s remote control car stopped working, so he peeed in the toilet and left my car in. I’m 40 now and still furious about it – and furious when I’m forced to issue a fake apology. Even when I explained my actions to my uncle, he still felt that my apology was necessary. We do that with kids all the time – insisting that they apologize even when they’re not at fault, and then we pretend that solves whatever is causing the real problem, because it’s easy. easier and faster than conflict resolution. It’s no wonder people can carry that theory as adults – that a quick “sorry” is supposed to magically fix any problems they’ve caused, even if they don’t. not intentionally.

Now, fake apologies have also become a daily shared public experience. One of the latest examples came out recently when hip hop megastar DaBaby went on sale an apology for disturbing the homophobic slurs he made on stage at the Rolling Loud Festival in July.

DaBaby’s on-stage comments have dominated the entertainment news cycle for days, prompting several other major festivals where he is expected to perform to his disqualification. In an attempt to stamp out the career damage, DaBaby took to Instagram and – like Wayne’s hasty words to be “my bad” – quickly released a statement that read, apologizing to the “community” LGBTQ+ for the hurtful and inflammatory comments I made.”

Does DaBaby apologize for hurting millions of people, including fans, by promoting homophobic slurs that could have deadly undertones, or is he apologizing for the money that he suffers to lose results? Does he understand why his comments are harmful and wrong, or is he trying to stop corporations that don’t want to be seen as friendly with obstinate people from working with him indefinitely?

When someone apologizes too quickly, or only after they have suffered the financial consequences, I wonder if they regret their actions or just apologize for being caught. In DaBaby’s case, it probably didn’t live up to his hopes. Once the companies make a public statement about your removal, they will likely stand behind their decision, at least for the foreseeable future. A few days later, DaBaby deleted his apology post. I reached out to his team to ask why, but got no response. But the downside is: deleting an apology too quickly only makes the apology look more contrived and reactionary. The deletion, which brought the story to public attention, gave the impression that, at least, personally, he might still be behind his bad words.

I stopped hanging out with Troy when he had his work friend Wayne with him. But one day, Troy saw me sitting in my favorite spot with sunflower seeds, watching the sunset, and came over with two glasses and a bottle of wine.

“Should I pour it over?” Troy asked, fixing us two heavy cups of Remy before I could answer.

“Surprised to see you here during peak happy hour,” I say, spitting loose crumbs onto the curb. “I think you’ll get back to your boy Wayne.”

“Dude, f**k Wayne,” Troy laughed, taking a sip of his burning cognac. “I slapped him at work and got fired.”

Troy told me he was standing near the break room and overheard Wayne and another white guy laughing. He poked his head in, thinking he might join the fun, just in time to hear the white guy say, “Yo Wayne, what’s going on!”

Wayne replied, “Sky, ceilin, how are you feeling, n *** a!”

“Time out!” I yelled, spitting out my drink. “Yooooo, no. What did you do?”

“I did what any respectable Black man would do,” Troy said. “I slapped Wayne so hard, I’m sure he’ll have a headache for at least a week.”

Troy said Wayne hit the wall, covered his red face with his hands, and said, “God, Troy! I’m sorry, relax! Please!” The other white guy ran out of the room and came back with a supervisor who had invited the trio into his office. Troy has a boot. Those who are empty-handed lose a few days without pay but still keep their jobs. Troy was charged with second-degree assault and reckless endangerment, but was never convicted. Wayne and the other white boy did not come to court.

Troy is still a pretty outgoing guy, but then he doesn’t drag too many of his friends to work around the neighborhood anymore. He told me he felt really bad about slapping Wayne – not because he hurt him, but because he lost a job he really enjoyed. Troy regretted allowing someone he thought was his friend such an opportunity. However, unlike DaBaby or Wayne, he never apologized insincerely, forcing an apology – not to Wayne, and not to the company. I will always respect him for that. Sorry, but forced apologies are the worst. Why can’t we give up this dishonest ritual?

Bobby Allyn

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