A couple of folks in comments yesterday brought up the case of USDA official Shirley Sherrod, a black woman caught on tape at an NAACP meeting here in Georgia apparently bragging about being less than diligent in helping a white farmer. The folks at Big Government posted a portion of her speech as part of the running feud between the NAACP and the Tea Party over which organization is more racist.
By the end of the day Monday, Sherrod had been forced to resign her post, and NAACP President Ben Jealous had released a statement agreeing with the forced resignation:
“Racism is about the abuse of power. Sherrod had it in her position at USDA. According to her remarks, she mistreated a white farmer in need of assistance because of his race.
We are appalled by her actions, just as we are with abuses of power against farmers of color and female farmers.
Her actions were shameful. While she went on to explain in the story that she ultimately realized her mistake, as well as the common predicament of working people of all races, she gave no indication she had attempted to right the wrong she had done to this man.”
(UPDATE: The NAACP has now pulled that statement from its website.)
After watching the video Monday evening, I wrote in comments that “what Sherrod says in that video — and what she apparently did — are deeply troubling… She might very well have earned a firing. But I’d like to see that rest of that video as well, because at the point it abruptly ends, she appears to be saying that it’s wrong to think in terms of black and white, that she came to see things as more accurately divided between poor and rich than by race.”
As I also noted, the folks at Big Government seem to have the whole video, since they also posted another segment, and it would be useful to see the rest of it.
Sherrod gets a chance to tell her side of the story in an AJC story by Marcus Garner:
“But Tuesday morning, Sherrod said what online viewers weren’t told in reports posted throughout the day Monday was that the tale she told at the banquet happened 24 years ago — before she got the USDA job — when she worked with the Georgia field office for the Federation of Southern Cooperative/Land Assistance Fund.
Sherrod said the short video clip excluded the breadth of the story about how she eventually worked with the man over a two-year period to help ward off foreclosure of his farm, and how she eventually became friends with the farmer and his wife.
“And I went on to work with many more white farmers,” she said. “The story helped me realize that race is not the issue, it’s about the people who have and the people who don’t. When I speak to groups, I try to speak about getting beyond the issue of race.”
So let’s see the rest of the tape, Big Government. Was Sherrod giggling among black folk about the time she put it to the white man, as the leaked excerpt suggests, or was the tape a deceptively edited excerpt of a longer story about getting beyond the issue of race, as she claims?
Let’s see the tape. The evidence apparently exists to settle the question. Cough it up.