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The Tentacle


July 29, 2010

About Right and Wrong

Derek Shackelford

Uh Oh! This is just a false alarm. No need to panic. Everyone can now go back to their regular scheduled program until the next time someone says something on video where only snippets are viewed and not the whole tape.

 

And it will happen again. One would think in a media-frenzy culture someone could at least get it right; but such is the society we live in. Take for example the recent forced resignation of Shirley Sherrod as Georgia’s director of Rural Development for the United States Department of Agriculture. Ms. Sherrod was forced by the USDA – with the support of the White House – to resign from her position for remarks made at a NAACP event in Georgia.

 

The remarks were posted by blogger Andrew Brietbart on his website showing abbreviated remarks by Ms. Sherrod discussing her previous encounter with a white farmer in Georgia. Does it matter whether Mr. Brietbart’s political viewpoints are conservative? Maybe in the beginning, but so many dropped the ball that it didn’t matter whether the political view was conservative or liberal so many got it wrong.

 

Which leads to the topic that is so often dismissed or discussed with apprehension – race.

 

To think that the issue of race did not play a role in this situation would be minimizing this entire ordeal. We are living in a racially-tinged climate maybe because we have the first African American president in the White House; or, perhaps, the legal challenge to the Arizona Immigration law which some say leads to racial profiling; or, maybe, the recent resolution passed by the NAACP asking TEA party leaders to repudiate those in the movement who use racist language in their signs and speeches.

 

And to think that this video posting was in response to the resolution passed by the National Association for The Advancement of Colored People may have placed the issue of race at the forefront.

 

It is interesting that as the NAACP passed the resolution in regards to segments of the TEA Party that the organization would then condemn remarks by Ms. Sherrod without looking at the entire video. While it may think that it is being an equal opportunity racial policeman, it loses some credibility by calling on TEA Party activists to confront racist language while missing the mark in condemnation of Ms. Sherrod’s remarks.

 

It is unfair to blanket the whole entire TEA Party movement as racist when this accusation is no better than to say Blacks or Latinos are purely loyal to the Democratic Party. People are monolithic, which means all do not think alike, act alike or sound alike and all should have the freedom not to go along with the crowd.

 

One would think with the 24-hour news cycle, some media outlet would have gotten the Sherrod story right. But we live in such a world where the “gotcha” moment is so apparent, and with this comes the damage control of covering one’s tracks before they have the chance to respond. This is apparently what the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture did with full backing of the White House in forcing Ms. Sherrod to resign.

 

This speaks to a larger issue in how race is used as tool in politics. It has for years and it continues to this day. And it is used by both parties. Race is used as a tool by Liberal and Conservatives. Race is used as a tool by Blacks and Whites. Race will – unfortunately – be used as a tool because of our inability to have serious conversations.

 

We like to say what we think it is not and what we think it is, but do you and I have serious conversations in our homes, communities, and politics about race? Until we do, we will continue to have those who overlook it thinking that it doesn’t exist because it is not packaged like it was 50 years ago. We will also have those who play the victim thinking that it exists at every turn and taking advantage of the misconceptions for convenience sake.

 

It is a sad state of affairs when everyone used race as a tool because this was not what it was or should have been about. Too often we are caught in the web of Conservative or Liberal, Democrat or Republican and Black or White which lends to little flexibility in how we think.

 

The real culprit in this situation was the truth. If we had a true understanding of the truth, we should be able to see that this was really about right and wrong – not race.

 



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