I finally sat down to listen to the full version of Shirley Sherrod’s speech from March of 2001. By now most have heard about the chaos that was caused when Andrew Breitbart posted a short and devious edit of one of her speeches from March of 2010.
Then I’ve tried to sort through the Fox News reports from O’Reilly and Beck begining on 7/19 – today. After I listened to Sherrod, I felt encouraged and hopeful, after listening to BO and GB I feel dirty and discouraged.
That is just the spirit I believe Fox news likes to spread.
I do not want this post to be about Democrats or Republicans.
I do not want to want this post to be about Obama.
I want this post to be about YOU and ME. Lets look in the mirror. Why are we so quick to believe what we want? Why are we so quick to vilify those who disagree with us? Why would we rather attack another, rather than seek common ground? (and believe me, I’ve tried to do this with those of whom I disagree)
Why do so many whites LOVE trying to prove that black people can be evil and hateful? Why does a blogger lying, Fox News yelling, O’Reilley pontificating, and Beck flexing – have the power to make Vilsack fire an innocent women without cause?
Shame on Vilsack for not getting facts and having a knee jerk reaction to FOX News.
Shame of O’Riley as he “fervantly embraces the facts” (watch this, and never assume his “REALITY CHECK” is REAL). O’Reilly wanted to throw red meat to the extremes who believe the USA is about to become an unsafe place for white folks.
Shame on Beck – as he tries to spin himself clean and make it look like the whole thing was a sinister plot hatched by his opposition. (I mean GB … if her comments constitute inspiring “class warfare” you practice “political -nuclear-warfare.” Maybe you never HAVE read the bible… Seems she was just taking about 1 John 3:17. )
Many white folks love to see that black people can be mean and prejudiced. Why’s that? – does that make the Klan look less evil?
Reminds me of PeeWee Herman, “I know you are, but what am I!” A juvenile game of trying to prove you are better by showing the “enemy” as being worse. BUT it proves nothing. If our goal is unity and peace we need to find solutions and have dialogue – NOT seek new ways to blame each other for the same old problems.
HOWEVER, you want to know my experience from over 20 years as a white man, white family, in a predominately black community? In my opinion, black people are typically more forgiving, more patient, and more understanding than my fellow whites. Why? Not sure, but it might be an extra genetic tolerance developed after years of having to survive under extreme racist conditions. Or, from the flip side, it’s the pressure of white folks feeling like their power-structures are beginning to erode and they are having a nervous reaction as they fear the consequences. “What if people of color might some day treat us, as bad as we treated them for the last 500 years?” (this paragraph is satire and tongue-in-check, Bill O’Reilly et al.).
I’ve seen it happen, while my white colleagues were yelling about process, pointing fingers and threatening lawsuits if I were to tell the truth about how racist some local institutions are. My black and brown colleagues were showing me how to forgive and press on. “Live out grace and choose your battles wisely.”
In this speech Shirley Sharrod says almost everything that whites frequently complain that black folks never address. Look at all the beauty in her message. She admits her short-sightedness in regard to race, coupled with a call to unity and repeated calls to personal and community responsibility.
It was a fundraising event for a local NAACP event in Coffee County, of south west Georgia. (but wait, I was told the NAACP raises money by whipping up hatred for whitey – why would they have a speaker telling people to get past race based politics, find forgiveness, and work together?)
She begins by telling about how her father was killed by white men who were never brought to justice. She shares about painful and racist experiences her and her family experienced.
She shares that as a child, she wanted to leave the south, but after her father’s death she sensed God’s call for her to stay and work for change. She challenges the youth in the room saying. “When you are true to what God calls you to do the path just opens up, and things just comes to you, God is Good , I can tell you that.”
At the 17 minute mark is where the edited piece begins where she explains her hesitancy, over 20 years ago, to help a white farmer. She relates as to how she believed if she could just get him to a white lawyer he would be ok.( Note to BO – – “his own-kind” – – you are an idiot to not understand she is saying that “tongue in cheek) The story continues, the white lawyer did nothing but take the money of the poor white farmer, that is until until Sherrod intervened. Then she says she began to realize how wrong she had been. “I thought it was about just white and black – I realized it was more about poor people…”
You can hear this if you listen through to 21 minutes.
She spoke about how she needed to help ALL poor who lacked access. She speaks that the struggle should not be between black, white, Asian or Hispanic – but in making sure all have access to the resources needed. (1 John 3:17?)
From minutes 25.30 she spoke about how she overcame hate in her heart, “by the help of God” She gave a strong challenge to work together to overcome divisions and do your part to make communities healthy place.
She continued with the messages many white conservatives believe blacks don’t say in to their “own” communities. PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY.
She challenges youth; enjoy life but be serious as well. “You don’t have to go to fields like we did, should be excelling….” She challenged her listners to find good jobs and a good future in agriculture, or wherever, but to always reach back and help others. She does not hesitate to criticize those in the black community that are becoming more self-cetered and self-destructive.
But I don’t expect to hear GB or BO discussing these positive messages from Shirley Sherrod. Why? Their goal is not unity, but division. They do not seem to care for dialogue or even truth, just ratings. (and it seems selling gold)
So, how can we move above the cacophony of division and listen for the harmonies of human experiences on which we can build a future?