1. As much as I’m on the internet reading the news, I had never heard of this, an incident that occurred in October. So I just wonder how often this type of thing happens, and we just don’t know about it. Seriously, we need to do something. Whether it be training our young men on how to deal with the police, whether there is just cause for the encounter or not. I’ve been in a situation myself where I’ve been harassed by the police, and I was calm for awhile until I just lost my patience. I wasn’t hit or anything, but I was given 3 tickets, which were thrown out when I went to court, but I recognize that a-it was a luxury that I was able to take time off work to go to court and b-that I knew my rights and thus knew the tickets wouldn’t hold up if I contested them. Just like there was training for sit-ins, maybe we should have trainings for police stops. It can be infuriating when you feel like you’re being picked on, but we really have to learn how to go along to get along sometimes–especially if death or wrongful imprisonment is a possibility. And we need to know what the laws and ordinances are. (And I say all that not to say what I think happened in this situation–I really don’t know what to believe happened to DJ Harvey. I do know I haven’t heard or read anything yet that justified killing the young man.)
2. I’m happy that black media is covering this. We really need to support and take advantage of the media outlets we do have to increase awareness and spur action. We do not/should not read everything we read (as was the case of Shirley Sherrod), and we need to know who is reliable and where we can really make sure our voices are heard.
My heart goes out to the family and the school body as they figure out what actually happened that fatal night.
Yesterday, this story hit the airwaves (and Twitter) like wildfire.
I am one of those people who tries not to come up with my own conclusions before facts are presented (I said try!). I almost wish that lawsuits were kept secret until right before the trial because the court of public scrutiny can be a major bitch. So here are my thoughts on the story, which are unrelated to what I think about the case itself.
1. While we should reserve judgment until more facts are made available (please remember Shirley Sherrod), we must see that there are two sides of the coin. These are allegations. Which means Long is innocent until proven guilty. However, we must be careful to not cast judgment on the accusers. This morning, the head of PR at New Birth said in an interview on V-103 that we must remember that these guys have been on the other side of the law. I have two problems with that: a – It’s a common tactic to criminalize the victim. Many victims don’t have pristine backgrounds, but that shouldn’t bar them from speaking out when they’ve been harmed. b – I would just expect a little more from a church. If you’re not ready defense-wise, then just say “he didn’t do it” and leave it at that. Trashing these guys who have been members of the church, participants in the programs, and on the church payroll isn’t a good look. So I said all that to say–to be neutral is to stay in the middle. Jumping on the accusers/possible victims is still picking a side and is just as bad as jumping on Long’s case before he has had the chance to defend himself.
2. This case immediately made me think of Juanita Bynum getting mollywhopped in a parking lot and all the backlash that caused. We church folk have to remember that we go to the House for the Word and to worship God, not bask in the pastor’s fervor. They are not superhuman. They are people too, and when we keep that in mind, it’s easier to swallow when things happen. Yes, they are spiritual leaders, and we must believe that God will lead us to where we’re supposed to go to hear His message and to fellowship with other believers, despite whatever imperfections the pastor has.
2b. There are folks who love when stuff like this hits the media so they can talk about how religion and spirituality are irrelevant and the church is full of fake people. But as we all know, the church is full of sinners, and that’s the point. No one is perfect, but we can all be saved under the perfect love of Christ. So, stay strong, folks. Especially you guys on Twitter and Facebook who may be inundated with defending your faith.
3. Regardless of whether or not Long did it or not, I hope people in power positions everywhere are taking note that you have to protect yourself from even the appearance of malfeasance. Of course, it’s not always preventable, but be aware of rumors and take heed to not feed into those rumors. Also, know that what is done in the dark will always come to the light. I say that as a tribute to all these politicians (who have a duty to the public just as spiritual leaders do) who keep getting caught because they thought they were invincible then end up resigning. People who are in public leadership roles are held to a higher standard, so just know there is only so much privacy to be expected. Which is sad, yes, but it’s reality. So this is to you and to me, just be careful out there.
I’ll be watching the news and reading the paper just as you will. Just keep Long, the two young men, all the families involved, New Birth, and this entire society in your prayers, as I will.
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.
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?