The Shirley Sherrod Debacle or Why the NAACP is Losing Ground in Modern Day America

July 25, 2010

If you have watched any major news outlet over the past week, you have certainly heard of Shirley Sherrod. If not, I am going to try to catch you up just a little bit. This, my friends, is the Readers’ Digest version of the story.
Shirley Sherrod was an employee of the USDA. She worked as the state director of rural development for the state of Georgia. At a recent NAACP Freedom Fund banquet, she made a speech about race relations. She talked about an incident in her career that happened back in 1986, way before she worked for the USDA. She spoke about a white farmer that showed racist behavior towards her. She said that because of his behavior, “she didn’t give the white farmer the full force of what she could do” in order to help him to avoid foreclosure on his farm. A 2 minute, 47 second video excerpt of this speech was placed on a conservative blog. This was quickly picked up by FOX News and reported on in true FOX News fashion. She was asked by the USDA to tender her resignation in response to the video and the NAACP released a statement that reads as follows:
"Racism is about the abuse of power. Sherrod had it in her position at USDA. According to her remarks, she mistreated a white farmer in need of assistance because of his race. We are appalled by her actions, just as we are with abuses of power against farmers of color and female farmers. Her actions were shameful. While she went on to explain in the story that she ultimately realized her mistake, as well as the common predicament of working people of all races, she gave no indication she had attempted to right the wrong she had done to this man."
During the course of the week, the video of her full speech was shown. It was very obvious that what she said in those 2 minutes and 47 seconds was not what the speech was about. She was offered an apology by the NAACP, the USDA, and President Obama. You can read a summary of the events here or you can Google it.
The NAACP retracted their statement saying that they were duped by FOX news and the publisher of the conservative website. *record scratch* Duped? Seriously? Let’s try this on for size…research EVERYTHING before you speak out and make a statement. For the life of me, I can’t understand why conservative blogs and FOX News would throw off the NAACP. I only watch FOX News to hear what the conservative point of view is for the day. (I feel that in order to have a complete political view, you need to know and try to understand where everyone is coming from, no matter how preposterous.) She was speaking at a NAACP event. How hard would it have been for the national organization to have gotten a copy of the original video BEFORE they made a statement based on a slant from a conservative organization? I truly believe that this was done in such haste because of the stance that they have taken against the Tea Party Movement. (That, my friends, is a whole other blog post.) They (rightfully) spoke out against the racists elements inside the Tea Party. I guess in their own way they felt that they had to “give them one” when it came to alleged racist statements made by another black person. But again…..this was a NAACP Freedom Fund banquet!!! Quit being so freakin’ gullible. A woman has lost her job because of a bad case of playing politics.
Actions such as these are the reason why I feel that the NAACP and other organizations that historically have dealt with civil rights are losing ground. It seems that in a push to remain relevant they are speaking before they have had a chance to think, which we all should have learned to do by the age of 16. Case in point, a local chapter of the NAACP were outraged by the Hallmark characters Hoops and Yo-Yo because of language that was used in a graduation card using the characters. You can view that news clip here. They said that the card was racist because it said “black whores”. Ummm…when? I have listened to so many of those cards because they were cute. They normally print what those things are saying in the card because it moves so fast. I just have a problem with the fact that there was no one mad about this card under the age of 65 in that room. But it got the response they wanted. Hallmark pulled the card off the shelves. In my opinion, it is wasted energy. There are so many other things that I feel like these organizations, or we as black people, should be putting our energy into. For instance: mentoring programs for black youth, emphasizing importance of getting an education, programs for people living in poverty, access to the democratic process, HIV/AIDS awareness….see where I’m going with this. More talk and less action.

Going Mobile

July 9, 2010

I figure that this will be a great way for me to keep this up as I am traveling or feeling not up to staring at my laptop. Either way...I'm back!

Saluting My Mother (9/26/58 - 6/15/10)

July 8, 2010

This is a blog post that I never wanted to write. I have started this post over and over again...never to finish, never to post. My mother, Barbara, passed away in the wee hours of the morning on June 15, 2010....3 days after her and my dad's 28th wedding anniversary. It's been almost a month since she has been gone and my life has been surreal ever since. I write this post as a form of healing, since I have not spoken in great detail to too many people about the events of the past 2 months.

Mother's Day weekend 2010....I went to visit my parents all weekend. It was first time I had spent extended time at home since Christmas. Work schedule was extra crazy so I was just happy to be able to go home. My mom was really depressed that whole weekend. She was so weak that she had not been able to go to church. She had lost the use of her right arm. She was talking about her upcoming doctor's appointment to see what they could do about that. I just remember feeling sad because she slept almost the whole time I was there. Was just confused because she never wanted to talk to me on the phone and wasn't really up to spending time with me while I was home. The very next Sunday I get a call in the wee hours of the mom. She was going to the emergency room. Something wasn't right and she just wanted to talk to me all the way there. (45 minute trip) Something just went all over me during that conversation and I just started crying. My mom, being her usual feisty self, made me put my boyfriend on the phone to make him calm me down, lol. She made me go to work and not even come over there until after I got off. She found out once she got there that the cancer had spread. There was a lesion on her brain and her doctors didn't think that there was anything else that they could do. All treatments for the past year were not working. Her main oncologist wanted to keep trying. Mom chose to cut her losses and enjoy whatever time she had left. She stayed in the hospital for a week until she could get placed into hospice care. This was May 16, 2010.

There wasn't a time table placed on how long she had. She seemed so much better without all that chemo. She perked up and was the healthiest I have seen her in past year.....all except for that arm. I was under the impression that she would eventually come home against all odds. She planned EVERYTHING. Funeral was planned in about 2 days....told to me and my brother every single detail. My dad wasn't trying to hear any of that. I was driving back and forth almost everyday just to spend time....lay eyes on her.

About a week or so before she passed she just stopped eating. Slept a lot more. Talked a lot less. I had started going about twice a week by then. Being in hospitals freak me out and it was making me weary. That last week I just kept putting off going. The whole family was there together that last day. She just looked as if she was suffering. It broke my heart because it seemed like she was struggling to live. I kept thinking to myself, "I don't know how many times I can come over here and see her like this." She was non-responsive that whole time. The brightest spot of the day was when I came in and said "hey Mama!". She opened her eyes and looked at me for a minute and closed them. They said it was the most she had done all day.

I couldn't sleep at all that night after I got back home. Jay (the boyfriend) stayed up with me until I went to sleep....which was a little after 4 a.m. according to him. My dad called me right before 7 and told me that she died....a little after 4 a.m.!

I am so thankful for the time that I have shared with my mom. Almost 27 years of my life. I wish that she could be here for all of the milestones that you really need your mother wedding, my first child. I just hope that I can take all that she taught me and become that woman that she wanted me to be. And on that note.....I must sign off.
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