Thursday, July 22, 2010

On Shirley Sherrod

It's hot and humid (well, humid for Albuquerque) and my fridge is still broken. I'm grumpy and I promise you, this post will have problems with tone.

This whole Shirley Sherrod scandal has really gotten me all perturbed. In case you've been living under a rock these past few days, here's what's happened.

The NAACP finally had the gumption to say out loud what has been obvious to everyone else with half a brain: the Tea Partiers willingly and knowingly harbor racists in their midst and should, if they're wanting the other 98 percent of America to take them seriously, cut that shit out.

Proving that calling a white person a racist is a bigger insult these days than calling a black person nigger, professional crybaby and total douchebag liar Andrew Breitbart (who was also behind the totally fake prostitution ring tapes that got ACORN disbanded) released a tape of a black woman named Shirley Sherrod who works for the USDA, giving a speech to the NAACP about being annoyed at a white farmer who came to her for help, "proving" that the NAACP specifically and black people in general are the real racists.

Of course Sherrod was forced to resign. The NAACP also immediately renounced her, calling her actions "shameful."

Now, even before this tape was even proved to be maliciously re-edited in a deliberately misleading way, I was put out. Maybe it was just that coming so close on the heels of the slap-on-the-wrist verdict given to the white cop who shot Oscar Grant (an unarmed black father of a girl my daughter's age, shot in the back while handcuffed and having his face shoved into the ground with a knee on the back of his neck in front of a dozen witnesses all holding cell phone cameras) but I just wasn't impressed by the degree of "oppression" on display here.

Oh, a black authority figure was less than respectful to you, and sent you somewhere else? Boo fucking hoo. Try getting shot in the back while face down and handcuffed with a cop's knee pressing down on your neck.

Not to mention the man what seeking help from an organization specifically set up as a co-op for black farmers (the incident actually occurred back in the 80s, before Sherrod even worked for the USDA), and was not a dues-paying member. Not to mention that the man was being snooty towards her. And not to mention that she did actually help him anyway during that first encounter, sending him to a white lawyer who could assist him.

But come to find that douche Breitbart had edited out the last part of the story. The full video shows that when she realized her initial reaction was perhaps related to lingering bitterness surrounding the fact that her father had been murdered by a Klansman (go ahead, grow up black in the south of a few decades ago after your father was murdered by the Klan, and see how you feel about white people, I dare you) and that she should overcome these feelings if she's going to have any luck making the world a better place.

She realized that the real problems in this country are between the haves and the have-nots, and while that's often overlaid with the matrix of the social constructs of race, it's not always. And then not only did she go on to personally help this white farmer, but she probably saved their farm and the two are friends to this day.

I agree with Joan Walsh. Shirley Sherrod is a hero.

But that's not where the irritation ends, oh no.

I'll let Professor Melissa Harris-Lacewell speak for me for a moment here. She said exactly what I was thinking on Countdown with Keith Olbermann the other day.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Nice Crash reference, by the way. Agreed about that movie as well.

So Shirley Sherrod was thrown under the bus. But after the tapes vilifying her were revealed to be an embarrassingly transparent fraud perpetrated by a huckster who is already known for releasing racially-tinged frauds to the media, everyone from the president on down apologized and jumped all over themselves to show how wrong and falsely quick to judge they were.

Tom Vilsack, the head of the USDA, even offered her a new special job. What is the new special job? An "outreach" position that would deal specifically with racial discrimination issues within the USDA.

This is the part that really got to me.

It is really annoying how mainstream white America wants black people to be, like, cultural envoys about race or something. I don't think Shirley Sherrod should have to leave her old, chosen job helping poor farmers and take a new job teaching the USDA not to be racist.

And, although I don't find him blameless in this situation (seriously, stop reacting to right-wing blowhards like their opinions matter!)I also don't think the Obama administration has some sort of obligation to "start a conversation" on race because he is black. I resent it when white people expect people of color to help them learn not to hate us.

Figure it out yourselves, already. Real life is not a movie with Morgan Freeman in a supporting role. No magical Negroes are coming along to help you overcome your own faults and teach you about love and friendship with their earthy wisdom. Deal with it.

Sigh. I'm sure this post makes me sound really bitchy and mean and violates the suggestions in this video. Until I have a working freezer so I can put some ice in my beverage and maybe cool off for a moment, I don't really care.

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