Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Shirley Sherrod, the NAACP & The Intimidation Factor: It's Racism to Mention Race

So this is the outcome of the NAACP's resolution urging the TEA Party to rid its ranks of racists?
First the TEA Party Federation boots out TEA Party Express spokesman Mark Williams, for a racially offensive satire of black people. First: I didn't know there were TEA Party factions. Second: while racially offensive Williams probably should have been expelled for idiocy. However, it's hard to argue, whether because of political pressure/public opinion purposes, or simply because it was the right thing to do...the TEA Party took rather decisive action.

Good for them.

Next, Shirley Sherrod, a Georgia U.S. Department of Agriculture executive is fired (or resigns), because nearly 25 years ago, at an NAACP event, she relates an experience in which she transparently states her reluctance to help a white farmer because of his 'superior attitude'.
Obviously offended because, in her mind, the white farmer in need of help, showed a lack of regard toward a black woman, in position to help him, she didn't go 'all out' to help him. She, in her words, "...did enough..."

She goes on to say, that she took him to a white lawyer who had been to training in recently enacted Chapter 12 bankruptcy laws for farms. The inference being that since the farmer was trying to assert his superiority, she took him to a white lawyer whom he of whom he would be more accepting. The white lawyer (as we find out in other reporting) wasn't helpful. And Sherrod goes on to say, in the video in question, that this opened up her eyes...that the issue wasn't just about race, it was about the haves vs. the have nots.

Here's the video...

The NAACP, in its rush to be 'fair and balanced' in its denunciations condemns Sherrod for her 'racism'.

And now...?

"The NAACP, which released a statement Monday critical of Sherrod, backtracked Tuesday, saying they were "snookered" by Andrew Breitbart, whose website released the edited video. Breitbart did not respond to a request seeking comment."

""Having reviewed the full tape, spoken to Ms. Sherrod, and most importantly heard the testimony of the white farmers mentioned in this story, we now believe the organization that edited the documents did so with the intention of deceiving millions of Americans," NAACP President Ben Jealous said in a statement. "The tape of Ms. Sherrod’s speech at an NAACP banquet was deliberately edited to create a false impression of racial bias, and to create a controversy where none existed. This just shows the lengths to which extremist elements will go to discredit legitimate opposition.""

"Jealous asked the USDA to reconsider Sherrod's dismissal but, in a statement, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack stood by his decision."

""First, for the past 18 months, we have been working to turn the page on the sordid civil rights record at USDA and this controversy could make it more difficult to move forward on correcting injustices," Vilsack said. "Second, state rural development directors make many decisions and are often called to use their discretion. The controversy surrounding her comments would create situations where her decisions, rightly or wrongly, would be called into question making it difficult for her to bring jobs to Georgia.""

Mind you, Sherrod is relating an incident that took place 24 years ago. And mind you, she's talking about the enlightenment that she received - then - not later, that caused her to re-examine her personal umbrage and later do all that she could do to help the white farmer and his wife. How do we know this?

"Sherrod "kept us out of bankruptcy," said Eloise Spooner, 82. She and her husband Roger Sooner, who own a farm in Iron City, located in southwest Georgia, approached Sherrod in 1986 -- when she worked with the Georgia field office for the Federation of Southern Cooperative/Land Assistance Fund -- seeking assistance."..."

"...Spooner, who considers Sherrod a "friend for life," said the federal official worked tirelessly to help the Iron City couple hold onto their land as they faced bankruptcy back in 1986."

""Her husband told her, ‘You're spending more time with the Spooners than you are with me,' " Spooner told the AJC
[Atlanta Journal Constitution]. "She took probably two or three trips with us to Albany just to help us out.""

"Spooner spoke to her friend by phone Tuesday morning."

""She's very sad about it," Spooner said. "She told me she was so glad we talked. I just can't believe this is happening to her.""

""If it hadn't been for her, we would've never known who to see or what to do," he said. "She led us right to our success.""

"Spooner's wife, Eloise, remembered Sherrod as "nice-mannered, thoughtful, friendly; a good person.""

"She said that when she saw the story of the tape and Sherrod's resignation on television, "I said, 'That ain't right. They have not treated her right.' ""

There's something terribly ridiculous about this.

In the first place, there are the intimidating tactics of whites who don't like being called racists, while pursuing or being supportive of racists ends, who try and accuse blacks and other minorities of racism at the very mention of racial injustice. In other words, it is racist to bring up racism.

And so a tape, edited just right, to prove that the NAACP countenances 'racists' in their midst, so that it can be shown that the NAACP is hypercritical in its charges that the TEA Party tolerates, if not supports, racists in their midst.

Then there is the NAACP, in a rush to be 'fair' seeking to quash any such criticism, condemns Sherrod...without seeing the whole tape! We have a clip of a portion of a speech, cut off virtually in mid-sentence. Did anyone, think to say, 'We need to see more than this before we comment?'

And there is the Department of Agriculture which acts, according to Tom Vilsack, purportedly without the White House's instruction or urging, forcing Shirley Sherrod to 'resign'. To pull over in the car, as a matter of fact, and resign with a message from her Blackberry, telling her that these are orders from the White House.

I can see how it might have happened...

Is it possible, that Shirley Sherrod 24 years ago, had a visceral reaction of resentment to some word, some expression, some phrase of Roger Spooner and interpreted as his considering himself to be racially superior. Of course it is. Can African-Americans be overly sensitive to racism in white people? The answer is undeniably yes. I've done it. I've had friends who have done it. There are more than a few times when we have to 'check' one another to counter the over reaction. Times when we remind ourselves and one another that some people are jerks, because they are jerks. Or sometimes when we remind ourselves that either we or they are having a bad day. And times when it is racism that actually is better left ignored. Was this what Sherrod experienced in her initial encounter with the Spooners - I think that can be argued.

But what about the NAACP? It's one of the problems that I tend to have with the organization. They were right, to call for the TEA Party to disavow, disassociate their movements from the racists they say are around their 'fringes'. There are no, alternative explanations for signs using the word 'nigger' or comparing Obama to Hitler and using other racists slurs or imagery. These people are not 'misguided' or 'ill informed' or 'having a bad day' and being 'afraid' or 'angry' are worn out excuses.

But the NAACP should stop trying to find ways to be apologetic. They did not call the TEA Party racists. They should not back off of their resolution (in fact it makes no sense to call a press conference about the resolution and not release the full text of it). And it makes no sense to continue to try and prove that counter charges of racism are not true. The NAACP has, for nearly all of its 101 years endured criticism from some black people that it is too inclusive! It was founded by black and white people. Any NAACP gathering looks far, far, far more like America than any TEA Party gathering I've seen to date. So, please, stop apologizing!

And the Obama administration needs to stop running from race. I don't think that there is a sane, rational, thinking (how many ways can I say the same thing?) person, knows that this administration is bending over backwards to appear racially impartial. It's the right thing to do. But Barack Obama is the first black President of the United States. You can't hide it. Trying to be so fair, that you become overly sensitive to the prospect that one of government employees might have referred to a racially intolerant attitude that she held in an encounter 24 years ago, is not the same thing as Robert Byrd having been a member of the Ku Klux Klan, voting against
Civil Rights. As wrong as Shirley Sherrod's reflexive resentment may have been, and as insistent as those who love to believe that racism is a figment of collective minority imagination, it is and has been real for a very long time.

By the way - maybe we should see the entire speech...

Pretty incendiary, huh? Of course it is...she mentioned 'race' and 'racism'...


Anonymous said...

The Tea Party movement has nothing to do with race. They simply want the Administration to STOP SPENDING MONEY that our grandchildren will have to repay. They are ruining our country and making it third world in many ways. Jobs are leaving the country at an alarming rate because of the policies of the Obama Administration. And the Administration has the nerve to say this is the "summer of recovery." Obama is doing this on purpose because he is a Socialist and may be a Marxist. He does not like America, much less love it. His parents were Marxists as were the people who surrounded him as he was growing up. He has appointed communists in his administration, the latest being Elena Kagan.

I wouldn't consider the Administration over sensitive to race when they let black panthers intimadate voters without taking any action.

This is all good for Jimmy Carter because he will not go down as the worst President in history.

Anonymous said...

Remember, Nov. 2 is "take out the trash" day. That is across the board and not racist.

Anonymous said...

The NAACP has nothing to do with the advancement of colored people. It is for the advancement of a liberal agenda and to accuse others of being racists by the likes of Jessie Jackson, Al Sharpton, Jeremiah
Wright, and Barrack Obama.

If they were wrong about Shirley Sherrod could they be wrong about the Tea Party?

Gerald Britt said...

How about if the TEA Party was wrong about Shirley Sherrod, could THEY be wrong about the NAACP?

Anonymous said...

No, they couldn't be wrong about the NAACP because they, the NAACP, laughed, clapped and cheered before Shirley came to the redemptive part of her speech. They cheered her racist and bigoted remarks.

Gerald Britt said...

Again, it shows that people who say that have never been in a gathering with black people. The audience UNDERSTOOD her initial reaction. Black people don't always respond as stoically as do whites. The audience affirmed her when she talked about what she learned.

Sherrod was in no need of 'redemption'. She needed insight and purpose that was healing. This is what she found in this episode. I think it condescending and misleading to refer to this as 'redemption'.

And it is simply a desperate attempt to prove a I'll conceived to point to a small segment in a clip insist on something that simply is not true.

Anonymous said...

Shirley admitted her racist tendencies in 1986. I wonder when she stopped exhibiting them?
Also shouldn't Obuma and the Sec of Ag. share in this fiasco, with some of their cya hip shooting?

Gerald Britt said...

The idea that Ms. Sherrod's initial reluctance to help the white farmer has some moral equivalence to the terrorism of whites who killed her father (the incident which helped for her opinion of whites), is evidence that those who supported her slander are insisting on being right.

She didn't mistreat the farmer. She didn't refuse to serve him. She identified a white lawyer to help him who, in the end, didn't help him and it was Sherrod who ultimately saved the man's farm. Those are the facts.

It is entirely miserable that people can not only support slander, but then when proven wrong, try to find means to justify the slander!

What I hope is that this incident is the beginning of the end of the intimidation tactic of calling African-Americans and other minorities, 'racist' because the recognize and call out racist behavior.

Those who are guilty of perpetrating this slander should be ashamed. If they are not - they insist on trying to find ways to justify this intellectal and morally bankrupt behavior, then they should be ashamed of not being ashamed.

Karen Harker said...

This incident is ironic on several levels:
1) Ms. Sherrod was relating her story of revelation of the sources of injustice (could it even be "redemption", given how she merely decided not to extend her full efforts?). Yet she was sacrificed in the name of "racism".
2) A victim of racism was herself accused of being racist.
3) This occurred in an agency with a long (and possibly still occurring) history of prejudism and racism. I had heard that the USDA was the last federal agency to integrate, and there are still lawsuits pending relating to insipid racism of service that occurred.
4) The incident was in response to the NAACP's rather tepid request that the TEA Party control its more racist members, or at least ostracize them.
5) The response to this supposed "reverse-racism" charge was immediate firing without due process, indeed, without providing even the opportunity for defense. This in an agency which protected (and still protects) white staff who have long histories of active and overt racism.
6) The calls for this response came from, among others, the very group that should have come to Ms. Sherrod's aid - especially considering that they had access to the full video.
7) The nation's first African-American president refused to review the case or even slow down the process, not to show his objectivity, but rather to temper the hype so that his own achievements (signing of the financial reform bill) would not be overshadowed.

It is with the last two items that I am most disappointed. If the NAACP rejects an African-American, what is the point of their existence. This was not a black gang member accused of multiple murders, but a civil servant accused (at most, and fraudulently at that) of showing some preferential biases herself. If our president is willing to sacrifice the good name and reputation of one of its own committed staff without hearing her case, whom does he represent?

While it is good to see as quick of back-peddling as the charge for removing Ms. Sherrod, I hope to see as much learned from this incident beyond reinstating her in the agency.

Anonymous said...

Gerald writes: "She didn't mistreat the farmer. She didn't refuse to serve him. She identified a white lawyer to help him who, in the end, didn't help him and it was Sherrod who ultimately saved the man's farm. Those are the facts."

Those are not the facts as I see them presented. Elouis Spooner stated, "That number was Shirley Sherrod. So we talked to her and we went up there to Albany, Ga. She said we've got two lawyers: one is a black lawyer and his name was Black and the other was Dan Easterlin in Americus, Ga."

The Spooners chose the lawyer in Albany. They scraped money together and went to him for six months and the lawyer didn't accomplish anything.

They called Shirley and told her they weren't getting anything done, and that's when they went to the lawyer in Americus. (It was Mr. Easterlin that saved the farm.)

Anonymous said...

Also, Shirley's father was killed by a neighboring farmer (white) who shot him over a dispute over some cows.

Gerald Britt said...

Look Breitbart & everyone who believed him have been discredited. The Spooners have gone on record as crediting Sherrod with saving their farm. You're wrong. It's time to find some other incident to distort. But you seriously need to give this up. It's a line of insistence that has made the short trip from pitiful to pathetic...

Anonymous said...

I see where some of the confusion may be. I only posted two replies before you under anonymous and they were posted at - July 31, 2010 9:05 PM and July 31, 2010 9:09 PM

I'm not the other anonymous person.

All I was doing was posting facts to correct some of the misinformation.

Gerald Britt said...

Anon 2:06, Sorry, all you 'Anons' are sounding alike!

The fact is this is still a distinction without a difference. You take the facts that have been legitimately reported and twist them to draw one of th most illogica conclusions I've seen in a long time.

And to suggest that there was a legitimate 'reason' why Sherrod's father was murdered and never brought to justice, actually shows the judgement that was used during the days of Jim Crow to justify the oppression of African-Americans.

It is bewildering to see these contortions by which people are trying to defend the smear and slander that has taken place over the past several weeks.

Again, you've been proven wrong. It was a horrible miscalculation that people would by this. Everyone supporting Breitbart's pathetic effort should be ashamed of themselves on any number of levels.

Why not try this: recognize there is no such thing as 'reverse racism' admit that Jim Crow was state sanctioned and in any number of cases state sponsored terrorism, that it was wrong and that its effects have not been eliminated 45 years after it was no longer legal and start from that point to make things better. Making excuses for the terrorism and trying to justify it because you can't imagine that people who look like you would ever do something like that, doesn't change those facts.

And if you don't want to get confuse with other anonymous posters, use your name.

Thomas J. said...

Gerald, you are being truly unfair to me. I don't know what you believe I posted that was incorrect.

"You take the facts that have been legitimately reported and twist them to draw one of th most illogica conclusions I've seen in a long time."

What facts did I twist?

"And to suggest that there was a legitimate 'reason' why Sherrod's father was murdered and never brought to justice,"

I did no such thing. The misinformation that has been reported on Hosie Miller's murder have been misreported. I was only trying to correct the record.

You stated, "... to the terrorism of whites who killed her father..."

It has been reported that he was killed by the KKK, shot in the back... and you are stating incorrect information as fact.

I would think you would want to be made aware of the accurate facts.

He was killed by a distant relative of Grace miller over a dispute over some cattle. His name was Cal Hall.

I at no time with my postings to you condoned or tried to distort any of the smears or slander that have been reported.

The facts that I'm getting are from the Millers' own words and the FBI report. (I have no idea if these facts were reported by Brietbart.) So I don't know how you can say I'm supporting what has been posted by him.

I shouldn't even need to address you on the third paragraph. You are trying to get me to defend myself on something that I never said nor believe.

You want me to "try this".....? You don't even know me, and your assumption of me and what you think I believe is totally wrong.

I'm new to your site and did not know how to use a different name. I will try and figure it out.

Gerald Britt said...

Thomas J.,

I'm going to take you at your word, assume your sincerety and apologize for being irritated with your post.

That being said, I'm not certain what facts you are trying to correct. You'll have to do more than just tell me about an FBI report and that includes the information you cite. Aside from that, if you read the history of the Civil Rights movement, you'll know that FBI reports don't always provide the most factual record of crimes committed during this period - especially 1966 in the South!

I'm going on Sherrod's account of what happened and nothing that I have read from any credible sources have refuted that account.

Further, my use of the word 'terrorism' doesn' just apply to the KKK. There were a host of 'terrorists' both ad hoc and official that oppressed blacks, Jews and Hispanics during this period. That includes Citizens Councils which, in the case of Mississippi, were actually embedded in state government. They included politicians, business and religious leaders who would not have been caugh in KKK robes, but who used the power of the state to keep blacks from the ballot box and who sanctioned intimidation and violence against anyone with the temerity to assert themselves.
These are facts not in dispute and which are recounted in all histories of the Civil Rights Movement.

Shirley Sherrod, never said that her father was killed by the KKK, nor did I. She said that he was killed by a white man and that man was never brought to justice. She gives an account of an attack at her home by white terrorists after her father's death. Watch the long version of her speech.

As far as trying to get you to defend yourself, let me say, far from it. That was more rhetorical. Instead of trying to 'set the facts straight', why not just admit that this terrorism not only existed and the effects last until this day. We should do this instead of trying to prove 'reverse racism' or trying to make sure Sherrod's account is in some way 'clarified'. We can stick to the fact that Breitbart is wrong. No 'clarification' can make him right. The NAACP was wrong. The press which pounced on it was wrong. The Department of Ag was wrong. The White House was wrong. And we should give no credence to an attempt to whitewash (no pun intended) the racism that has tended to be attracted to or by the TEA Party. Should they clean that up, fine - then lets have a real debate on economic policy in the U.S. but counter charges of racism, based on slander and slanting facts doesn't get us there.

Thomas J. said...

Thank you, Gerald. I have been talking about so called "reverse racism" for years.

You and I agree on a lot of issues. I guess I'm just a stickler for wanting facts before jumping to conclusions.

The facts I am trying to correct are clearly stated above. They are easily verified. I watched the CNN interviews and have read the transcript. The quote I gave above was a direct quote from Eloise Spooner.

I agree that Shirley Sherrod was quite instrumental in helping to save their farm and even went with them to see Dan Easterlin in Americus. Bravo!

There are several different stories on how her father was murdered, I was not contributing the incorrect ones to you or Shirley, merely pointing out that they exist. (Again, it's that stickler thing I do.)

Here you'll find one report:

The FBI report was asked for under the FOIA and was released Friday 7-30-2010. (I also agree with you that FBI reports don't always provide the most factual record.)

The report was in the Albany Herald. You can read it here:

Just a side note: I most certainly have watched the entire video as that is a part of my due diligence when such stories arise.