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.


Irendi said...

After reading a glimpse of what happened a few days ago (I avoid the news) on another blog, I googled the whole debacle. I'm not a political person, but I recognize wrong. The last time I checked, she declined resuming her position. Is this still true?

Kathryn said...

From what I have read, it seems like she has been offered not just her job back, but a promotion within the USDA. She is considering the offer, but hasn't made a decision on what she is going to do yet.

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