Opinion: An apology on behalf of people like me

Adam Tumino, Reporter

I usually want to keep my columns light and humorous, but occasionally I feel the need to get more serious. This is one of those occasions.

In one of my classes recently, we watched portions of a documentary on the AIDS outbreak across the world, mainly in the 1980s and 90s. After watching this documentary, I tried to think of a single group of people that has not been screwed over by people like me. I could not think of one.

The people like me are white, heterosexual males, and throughout history, we have decimated and vilified populations of people we deemed as inferior.

This year is, as you may have read in the paper over the last week or so, the 400th anniversary of the first slaves being brought to America from Africa.

These were people just living their lives, and we decided to rob them of their freedom and their cultural identities and force them to do labor for nearly 250 years until the pasage of the 13th Amendment in 1865.

But slavery was only officially ended on that day. The foundations are still intact today with institutionalized racism and discrimination.

African Americans are not the only people affected by institutionalized discrimination. Every social group I could possibly think of has, at one point or another, been treated horribly by people like me.

The only people that have not been screwed over by white, heterosexual males are the wealthier white, heterosexual males.

In the example of the AIDS outbreak, decades of government inaction directly led to the death of millions of people around the world, many of whom were gay or drug users. The government refused to properly fund research or treatment since they believed that AIDS only affected people who were considered “immoral” at the time.

Not only could the government have prevented the rapid spread of AIDS and reduced the number of deaths, they could have educated the public to assure that those who had AIDS were not outcast by society. Many people lost their jobs, their homes and their families and died penniless and without dignity.

My life’s goal is to undo some of the monumental damage caused by people like me, and on behalf of people like me, I want to offer a heartfelt apology. I am sorry for all the pain we have caused. I hope one day it is alleviated.

Adam Tumino is a junior journalism major. He can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]