Pursued and punished for words that were taken out of context. A video clip edited to persuade the public that former department of agriculture official, Shirley Sherrod, is a cold cut racist. But what the clip really showed was a perfect example of poor journalism.
At first glance Sherrod’s words seem to suggest that she didn’t want to completely help poor white farmers. It’s only after you listen to her speech further that you realize she was actually emphasizing the importance of progressing beyond race.
Sherrod’s speech pointed out that race should not stand in the way of you helping others who are in need. The incident Sherrod referred to in her speech occurred over 20 years ago, before she even worked for the federal government, and according to her it assisted in positively shaping and altering her views on race and poverty.
But BigGovernment.com, the website where it was posted, seemed to strive for people to think it was a recent incident and one that negatively affects the way Sherrod performs her job.
Sherrod was condemned by the NAACP, Secretary Vilsack, and publicly attacked on media outlets such as Fox News. It was an incident that never would’ve occurred if many weren’t so quick to jump the gun… And if more Americans were inquisitive about accuracy of the information they receive from various news sources.
It seems like a terrible game of telephone. No one really bothered to check up on the information being heard or further question the primary source including Sherrod herself, to find out the truth.
Counter racism was the assumed crime on everyone’s minds. It was a desperate cry for justification perhaps. And a possible strained attempt to show a black woman being racist against whites as well.
It certainly was not one of the latest tricks in the book, a plight to portray the assumed victimized as the victimizer. But what it did become was a circus act that ignited a heated discussion centered on the issues of race, politics and ethical journalism.
When Sherrod’s side of the story was finally released there was no doubt that her accusers were completely out of line. Their highly critical statements about her career and character not only jeopardized her career, but also her reputation.
Sherrod’s side of the story, as well as the farmer’s who she helped, eventually weighed in on CNN to uncover the truth. It was only then that Sherrod finally got offered another position working for the government.
However, why did it take all this to finally see the truth behind Sherrod’s speech. How did her message of reconciling race relations and moving past skin color, end up getting twisted to the point where she had to lose her job and face the embarrassment of being rejected by the White House and NAACP?
The Sherrod scandal does make us wonder… Can a Black woman really be a racist? After facing a society that reveals it’s ugly side of racism to you nearly everyday in either subtle or obvious ways… can you really turn your head on all the feelings of hate felt toward your race, and adequately justify them in entirety and abundance toward another?
Refuse The Silence, Intern