Thursday, July 22, 2010

Shirley Sherrod Wants to Educate President Obama On Issues of Race

Shirley Sherrod might be too much for the Obama administration after all. And I mean that as praise for Sherrod. The Associated Press reports that Sherrod wants to educate President Obama on issues of race. Sherrod believes that Obama has some lessons to learn because his life experiences did not expose him to some of the difficulties that she faced:

I'd like to help him see some of the things that he could do in the future."

"I really regret what they did. But as I said before, he's my president," Sherrod said. "When you get it down to where the rubber meets the road, I think you need to understand a little more what life is like. I'd love to talk to him, though, or people in his administration ... to help them understand."

"I can't say that the president is fully behind me. I would hope that he is," she added. "I would love to talk to him."

Also, George Stephanopoulos interviewed Sherrod on Good Morning America. Stephanopoulos discussed the interview on During the interview, Sherrod said the following:

“[Obama] is not someone who has experienced what I have experienced through life, being a person of color. He might need to hear some of what I could say to him. . . .I don’t know if that would guide him in a way that he deals with others like me, but I at least would like to have the opportunity to talk to him about it.”
I doubt this conversation will ever happen. The Obama administration treats race as a form of political kryponite -- something to avoid by any means necessary. Also, I would hate to see something similar to the silly Beer Summit the followed the controversial arrest of Henry Louis Gates. Nevertheless, Sherrod seems like a person who could offer Obama some valuable insight regarding race and social justice.

See also:

This Is How Post-Racialism Looks: Another Take on the Firing of Shirley Sherrod

Lessons For the NAACP From the Shirley Sherrod Fiasco.

UPDATE: This essay was updated to include an analysis of the report by George Stephanopoulos.


Joanna said...

I did not want to believe this at first, but friend told me a while back that "Obama is a Black face on racism/white supremacy". I thought my friend was wrong. I really thought President Obama was going to be strong, stand up for change, be a proponent of justice, but it seems that he has consistently capitulated to the demands of the white wing (Yeah I said WHITE wing not RIGHT wing, as they are mostly one and the same) as soon as the threat of being called a "racist" has been dangled in front of him.

Hippi Chicki Niki said...

I think that he does understand. He has experienced quite a bit of racism himself in his life. The issue is that he has allowed politics to interfere. Unfortunately, the "lesson" he learned from the situation last year with Henry Louis Gates Jr. is that, if he openly criticizes what he knows to be racism that he will lose politically. After all, a majority of the country is still White. He knows that, in the next few months, he needs to help candidates win elections and that, if he allows his political capital to be spent on calling this what it is, it may cost the Democratic majority in the Congress. He tends to think in the long term and he probably sees that as the thing that will prove to be more important in the long-term.

I, however, and it seems that you as well, consider publicly calling out racism and other prejudices and addressing them in 2010 just as civil rights leaders did in 1960. It is probably easy for you and I to judge, since we don't have the jobs of quite a few Congresspeople and the political fate of the country on our shoulders. We don't have to consider the consequences of causing an uproar by battling with FNC and calling people who everyone cannot necessarily see as racist what they are. Experience, from last year, has taught him that that may not be the smartest thing to do in the long run, especially at this moment in time. I have to admit, in opposition to my very visceral reaction to this, that he may be right. There was no way for him and others to have known, at that time, that Mrs. Sherrod was innocent and quickly going to be exonerated. There was no way to know at that time that siding with Ms. Sherrod would put him in a positive light. The choice quickly proved to be the wrong one, but that was not evident then.

My feelings about this are much like the Keith Olbermann response from last night, but that is because I learned about it AFTER Ms. Sherrod was exonerated. I cannot say how I would have felt had she truly said and done, in this decade, what Brietbart had accused her of doing. Firing a federal employee of any race for mistreating a citizen because they are of a different race or for denying a citizen equal benefits because of race is not racist. It is addressing a racism problem. It proved in the end that Ms. Sherrod had not done these things, but their actions weren't racist. They were STUPID, but not racist. They should have put her on leave while they investigated and, once she was exonerated reinstated her with backpay for the time she was on leave, but choosing not to do that was stupidity, not hate/

The RACIST in this situation is not Obama or Vilsack, it is Andrew Breitbart. This is the second time in less than a year that he has manipulated and heavily edited video footage in an effort to bring down an organization that helps defend the civil rights of minorities and fights to give them equal standing. This is the second time that he has uncaringly destroyed the reputations of individual minorities in order to do so and made them lose their jobs. HE deserves your rancor. If we forget his role in this and shine the light on the President and Vilsack instead, we let him escape the public embarrassment that he deserves and leave him able to do it in the future because we have failed to recognize him as a person that is not credible.

Let us keep our attention on the right person.

Hippi Chicki Niki said...

Also, while the right wing, especially the Tea Party movement, is largely White, White Americans are not all a part of the Tea Party movement and the right wing. It is important to make that distinction. Otherwise, we are stereotyping and hating and being prejudiced and stooping to the same level as these people. It is a bit like keping in mind that, while all grapes are fruits, not all fruits are grapes.

Joanna, take a look at these two video clips:

@Prof H. I particularly loved Olbermann's reminder of who runs FNC. Perhaps if more of their fervent followers knew who was feeding them their "news" they might not be so unable to consider that it might be false. They might not be as appalled by Roger Ailes's Willy Horton ad history, but I'm sure the Muslim second biggest stockholder and the Murdoch the Aussie would cause them to pause.

(Since when won't blogspot let you make wordy comments? my comments are always longer than a treatise on tax law! Why is that restricted all of a sudden?)

Hippi Chicki Niki said...

Clarification: That is not meant to imply that Muslims or Australians are bad people. It was meant to be a comment on the irony of these "patriots," who are very insular and against anyone of different races, ethnic groups, nationalities or religions, following two foreign nationals like sheep and jumping off the ledge like lemurs without a thought for the credibility of the source.

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