FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Who Has Shirley Sherrod’s Back?

by LAURA FLANDERS

At the end of a long painful week, Shirley Sherrod’s been offered a new job with the USDA’s Office of Civil Rights and Community Outreach. She’s still considering, though, and who can blame her?

In an interview on Good Morning America Sherrod said Thursday that she wasn’t ready to accept Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s job offer. She said she wanted to hear more from the Secretary and his boss. She wants to know that the President is “fully behind” her.” “I would hope that he is…” she said. “I would love to talk to him.”

And that’s where we’re at. Yesterday in our studio, Harry Belafonte noted that we don’t have a national conversation about race, we have a confrontation. People from different races still don’t know one another. As he put it, in an interview with ColorLines: “The person from whom you’re thinking of taking life, or land, have you heard their story, have you sung their song?”

While the race- like the red-baiting by the Right- is the most obvious crime in the Sherrod story, the question of who believes whom and why, comes next. It may even be a bigger problem — after all, it’s only because of misplaced trust — that the baiting works.

Tom Vilsack, in his apology to Sherrod Wednesday, said he didn’t think before calling for resignation. But that’s not quite true. He did think. And he chose to believe the baiters first. That’s the first problem. Why did they, not she, win his first gut-level confidence?

Melissa Harris-Lacewell pointed out on MSNBC Wednesday night, had Vilsack known Sherrod’s history better — he’d have known that her father was shot in the back by a white farmer when she was 17; that she had history with the civil rights movement. That her husband worked with the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee and he’d have known of her involvement with a lawsuit, recently settled, representing black farmers, long dispossessed as part of the post-Reconstruction backlash against emancipated blacks. If he’d understood those things, if they’d resonated — he’d have known they made her a perfect target. If he’d known that — and felt it — there’s a chance that even at the gut-level, he’d have heard an echo of past, similar fabrications — not a fact.

Indeed, if the entire USDA heard and felt that history, they’d not have dragged their mostly-white feet so long in getting black farmers justice.

Eric Holder was right. We’re still a nation of cowards on the issue of race. But here’s another opportunity to grapple with it. We don’t need a debate over whether we’re post-racial — clearly that’s settled. As is the matter of whether the Fox News Channel is a journalistic project.

What we need now is what Sherrod’s asking for from the president — time to talk. We need true conversation, that starts with learning one another’s histories. Not the whitewashed sort that Texas and Arizona textbooks want to teach, but our real histories – and why they matter. It’s not just a question for the President. It’s for all of us. Do we as a nation have Sherrod’s back?

LAURA FLANDERS is the host of GritTV.

WORDS THAT STICK

?

 

Laura Flanders is the host of GRITtv now seen on the new, news channel TeleSUR English – for a new perspective. 

More articles by:
May 25, 2016
Eric Draitser
Obama in Hiroshima: A Case Study in Hypocrisy
Ryan Mallett-Outtrim
Does Venezuela’s Crisis Prove Socialism Doesn’t Work?
Dan Arel
The Socialist Revolution Beyond Sanders and the Democratic Party
Marc Estrin
Cocky-Doody Politics and World Affairs
Sam Husseini
Layers of Islamophobia: Do Liberals Care That Hillary Returned “Muslim Money”?
Susan Babbitt
Invisible in Life, Invisible in Death: How Information Becomes Useless
Mel Gurtov
Hillary’s Cowgirl Diplomacy?
Kathy Kelly
Hammering for Peace
Dick Reavis
The Impeachment of Donald Trump
Wahid Azal
Behind the Politics of a Current Brouhaha in Iran: an Ex-President Ayatollah’s Daughter and the Baha’is
Jesse Jackson
Obama Must Recommit to Eliminating Nuclear Arms
Colin Todhunter
From the Green Revolution to GMOs: Living in the Shadow of Global Agribusiness
Binoy Kampmark
Turkey as Terror: the Role of Ankara in the Brexit Referendum
Dave Lindorff
72-Year-Old Fringe Left Candidate Wins Presidency in Austrian Run-Off Election
May 24, 2016
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
The Financial Invasion of Greece
Jonathan Cook
Religious Zealots Ready for Takeover of Israeli Army
Ted Rall
Why I Am #NeverHillary
Mari Jo Buhle – Paul Buhle
Television Meets History
Robert Hunziker
Troika Heat-Seeking Missile Destroys Greece
Judy Gumbo
May Day Road Trip: 1968 – 2016
Colin Todhunter
Cheerleader for US Aggression, Pushing the World to the Nuclear Brink
Jeremy Brecher
This is What Insurgency Looks Like
Jonathan Latham
Unsafe at Any Dose: Chemical Safety Failures from DDT to Glyphosate to BPA
Binoy Kampmark
Suing Russia: Litigating over MH17
Dave Lindorff
Europe, the US and the Politics of Pissing and Being Pissed
Matt Peppe
Cashing In at the Race Track While Facing Charges of “Abusive” Lending Practices
Gilbert Mercier
If Bernie Sanders Is Real, He Will Run as an Independent
Peter Bohmer
A Year Later! The Struggle for Justice Continues!
Dave Welsh
Police Chief Fired in Victory for the Frisco 500
May 23, 2016
Conn Hallinan
European Union: a House Divided
Paul Buhle
Labor’s Sell-Out and the Sanders Campaign
Uri Avnery
Israeli Weimar: It Can Happen Here
John Stauber
Why Bernie was Busted From the Beginning
James Bovard
Obama’s Biggest Corruption Charade
Joseph Mangano – Janette D. Sherman
Indian Point Nuclear Plant: It Doesn’t Take a Meltdown to Harm Local Residents
Desiree Hellegers
“Energy Without Injury”: From Redwood Summer to Break Free via Occupy Wall Street
Lawrence Davidson
The Unraveling of Zionism?
Patrick Cockburn
Why Visa Waivers are Dangerous for Turks
Robert Koehler
Rethinking Criminal Justice
Lawrence Wittner
The Return of Democratic Socialism
Ha-Joon Chang
What Britain Forgot: Making Things Matters
John V. Walsh
Only Donald Trump Raises Five “Fundamental and Urgent” Foreign Policy Questions: Stephen F. Cohen Bemoans MSM’s Dismissal of Trump’s Queries
Andrew Stewart
The Occupation of the American Mind: a Film That Palestinians Deserve
Nyla Ali Khan
The Vulnerable Repositories of Honor in Kashmir
Weekend Edition
May 20, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Rob Urie
Hillary Clinton and Political Violence
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail