So yesterday, when the clip of Shirley Sherrod came out, I was so disappointed in her. Here’s the clip.
Why would she set herself up like that, I said. There is a such thing as oversharing, ma’am! Why would you make a public speech and a tell a story about how you didn’t give someone your best because he wasn’t black. Whether you think it’s personally acceptable or not, you know it goes against work ethics. Further, you know that as a black woman in America, you can’t go around revealing that you’ve done stuff like that. What did you expect?!
I ranted, and I cosigned to other rants about the lack of professionalism.
Then, I got an email from Color of Change and decided to watch the entire video.
QUITE a different story. Ms. Sherrod’s actual point was that through a real-world scenario she learned that racism is not the only problem that plagues this country–classism is pervasive as well and has to be overcome. Ms. Sherrod’s story is about how the first time she had to help a white farmer save his farm, she wasn’t too enthused. She was thinking, I don’t have to do much because I can just take him to “his own kind” and they’ll take care of him. She soon found out, though, that “his own kind” didn’t give a cat’s patootie about this poor farmer, even cheating him out of his money while not doing the legal work “his own kind” was being paid to do. Ms. Sherrod stepped back in and used all of her resources to keep this man’s farm off the auction block. The story is about overcoming one perceived reality and learning just how important her job was in the lives of these rural stakeholders. She is reminding us that sometimes we have to get past “color” and recognize the “oppressed” and help them, a point that I think most of us would appreciate.
So why didn’t we know that yesterday? Why were we misled by even the NAACP on her comments? Why did the White House even fully back the Agriculture Secretary’s decision to ask for and accept Ms. Sherrod’s resignation?
I’ll tell you why. Because the media has power that is unimaginable and because people do not do their due diligence, even when they hold someone else’s future in their hands.
I’m disappointed in myself. I am. I KNOW better than to take someone’s word for it (even the NAACP, unfortunately) without doing my own research to come up with my opinion. I am fully aware of how people’s words can be manipulated to suit agendas.
I am also disappointed in the NAACP, who definitely should not have taken someone else’s clip and made statements against Ms. Sherrod in the media. She was speaking before an NAACP local chapter’s banquet, for goodness sake!! It’s THEIR tape ultimately. It’s not enough to me that today they rescinded their statements. They should have reviewed the video in the first place and stood up for this woman and the speech that was presented. Do they not have faith in their own organization that they aren’t confident that they wouldn’t have asked her to speak if she weren’t going to give an inspiring and educational message (as she did)? The ball was definitely dropped.
I am also disappointed in Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack for taking the clip and running with it. As her superior, he has access to her record and should have given her the benefit of the doubt long enough to review the whole tape. Actually, even if he didn’t give her the benefit of the doubt, he should have reviewed the whole tape. I mean really. Do you really request someone’s resignation without all the facts? Especially if she was asserting to him that the clip was taken out of context.
I am, in addition, disappointed in the White House for fully supporting Vilsack’s decision without watching the whole video. It didn’t dawn on anyone that maybe Ms. Sherrod wasn’t blowing smoke and that the clip could have blown out of proportion? Or are they just willy nilly handing over support to any government agency head that needs it?
Who am I not disappointed in? The right-wing manipulators who saw a prime opportunity and took advantage of it. They have been battling these Tea Party issues, and they saw an opening to use the media and coerce everyone into thinking about something else for awhile. They succeeded. Even if just for a day.
This is a lesson to us all that we should wait until we have full (or close to full) information before jumping up on a soapbox and/or a bandwagon and condemning people. We should wait until we have enough details to really determine what has happened, especially if we have power and influence.
Watch the video. If you agree with me that Ms. Sherrod should be reinstated in her position, please visit this link, and make your voice heard.
<<< ::Update:: >>>
Since, the following articles and videos have hit the net. Tell em, Ms. Sherrod.
Re: “the bittersweet” feelings she has, I feel her. I wouldn’t blame her if she didn’t accept the position if it’s offered back. As my mom told me earlier: Damage control is a bitch, ain’t it?
Boo @ Roland. Why is he not even letting her talk? You didn’t listen to her yesterday (as many of us didn’t), and you still aren’t today! Sir, apologize for jumping to conclusions and then make whatever point you were trying to make. Someone on Twitter said that she still overshared, and I don’t agree. That clip didn’t even almost include her entire story (beyond the entire speech). How do you tell someone how to get past racism if you can’t present a personal experience that ended in her getting past it and helping someone she never would have considered just as vigorously as she would have those she was in the position to help. Big picture here, folks. We’re not talking about someone who evolved over a long period of time, who mistreated a white farmer or two and then saw the error of her ways. When she first MET the white farmer, she sized him up but even then, she didn’t deny him help–she sent him to someone she believed would help him. When that help didn’t come, she evolved and came to learn that people don’t always just care about color–they care about who has and who doesn’t, and she helped him. Now, if lil ole me got that from her speech, I don’t get why it’s so difficult to get. I mean, I know I may be smarter than the average bear, but geez. I would expect a little more from Mr. Martin.
The following video after the Roland Martin one is a little disconcerting too. I appreciate that she is finally heard and that the farmers involved are heard, but the interviewer clearly still hasn’t watched the video!!
Soon after, the Rev. Al Sharpton said black leaders should refrain from calling on the administration to apologize, saying that creates the impression that black leadership is fractured. “We are only greasing the rails for the right wing to run a train through our ambitions and goals for having civil and human rights in this country,” Sharpton said.
Al, I’m usually with you, but seriously? If the administration had the wherewithal to make a statement backing the gross overreaction by Vilsack, then it had the responsibility to apologize after finding out the whole thing was a ploy to counter racism claims and not even substantiated. C’mon, Al.
In political matters, we HAVE to do better at showing up prepared for battle and not being bullied into battle before you’ve had a chance to know what you’re fighting about. Why was responding to the Tea Party and FOX News guy more important than understanding the situation itself?
And there it is.
<<< ::Another update:: >>>
Breaking news: USDA boss says sorry, offers Sherrod civil rights job
<<< ::Newest update:: >>>
Here’s NPR’s report.