Yes, yes, we know that slavery isn’t just “white people”. Although, one of the poster boys for ancient slavery is Rome. Quite white too, no?
But, even as a white dude fairly dismissive of SJW zealots, it is in disingenuous to fail to recognize that the African slave trade to the America deserves special opprobrium and censure.
First, again as a white guy who sees no problem with being white (or another color too), our forefathers should have known better. This is Renaissance/Age of Reason, dude. Not effin Ancient Rome. Maybe trading in slaves was endemic in North Africa at the time, but that’s on them. Shouldn’t have been on us. Especially with Christianity supposedly an ethical watchdog.
We should have been better than that. Saying that Mauritania or Saudi still practice watered down slavery is no defence.
Second, the sheer scale and nastiness of what happened. The number of people who got abducted. The number who died on transport.
The scale of the forced labor that was deployed, which basically rebuilt the Americas (not just the US) to European preferences. I grew up in St Maarten, whose Dutch-side economy was based on salt ponds. Let in salt water, dike it, dry it. Now, if you like skiing, imagine working outside on a lily-white snow field of salt, in sunny 30+ C weather, probably without sunglasses. Raking in, not snow, but salt all day. Probably without a shower to wash off the grit at end of day. Hell on Earth.
The sheer lateness at which Abolition took place in the US. The lack of legal protection during slavery followed by lingering legal discrimination after.
The fact, that, at least to some extent, it still influences how black people live and are perceived or perceive themselves in modern day Western societies.
So, yes, slavery is not just us whites. By no means. I don’t get hysterical about it or support restoration monetary awards. If you’re black and we’re discussing politics over beers, you’ll get way more sympathy from me regarding police shootings or modern issues than if you insist on focussing everything on misdeeds perpetrated by people of my ethnicity 500-150 years ago.
But a sign of a clever, ethical and just society is the ability to own up to one’s past wrongs, recognize them and try to do better. That’s something Germany understands about the Holocaust. And a major reason why modern Japan, otherwise fairly exemplary in many ways, is failing so badly at getting along with its neighbors.
Saying sorry, and meaning it, is the right thing to do. Putting it in the larger context of historical slavery and pointing out that a 2019 white person has little to do with the slave trade are all fine. But none of this avoids having to admit our society behaved shamefully.
BTW, the OP should clever up a bit on his Capitalism & Slavery linkage. Southern US slave plantation society was in many ways the antithesis of 1800s worker-exploitation capitalism and this mismatch largely contributed to starting the Civil War. Haiti’s slave revolution wrested it from Imperial France in the early 1800s. And Brazil and South America, under Portugal and Spain, used slaves extensively as well: only a true idiot would claim 1600-1800 Spain to be capitalist.