The Shirley Sherrod debacle, yet again, reveals an ugly and unfortunate truth. This country is suffering from a psychological disorder. Joy Leary calls it “Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome.” Whatever it is, it’s clear that we have been traumatized not only by our despicable history of slavery and racism but our ongoing refusal to deal with it.
The latest chapter is the case of Shirley Sherrod. The NAACP – the revered organization known to many as our nation’s conscience on race – now claims that it was “snookered.” This so-called “snookering” was done by a Tea Party activist who released an inaccurate, deceptively edited and misleading video of an Obama Administration official Sherrod, allegedly admitting racial discrimination in her provision of benefits to a White farmer.
But don’t blame the NAACP as this “snookering” deceived not only those in charge of America’s conscience on civil rights, but it also apparently deceived those in charge of America itself. Whether it was the White House or a high ranking political official inside of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, some “snookered” superior was so fooled by all of this that Ms. Sherrod, who was driving at the time, was apparently asked to pull over to the side of the road and submit her resignation on her Blackberry.
There’s a whole lot of snookering going on.
Needless to say the media talking heads all joined in; leading the charge was Fox News which touted the video as “breaking news.” Cable networks piled on Ms. Sherrod Monday night, and yesterday morning, the experts all joined in to tell us how discrimination is wrong – even where White people are the victims.
Less than a day later – eons in the world of 24 hour cable news – the truth came out. We’d been had. The video had been edited. The full version actually showed Ms. Sherrod bravely offering a story of racial reconciliation and healing – something most Americans – Black or White – are simply unable or unwilling to do.
Text continues after gallery …
Click here to view photos:
Ms. Sherrod’s full story explained that her father had been murdered by a White man in 1965 when she was only 17, which was part of why she was committed to staying in the South to fight for change. She further explained that she admittedly had reservations about helping the White farmer in the beginning given the context of her story and the documented history of racism against Black farmers. But ultimately, Ms. Sherrod’s story was one of race and reconciliation. She explained how her experience with the White farmer taught her an important life lesson that it was about helping poor people – no matter what their race. And the White farmer who was the alleged victim of Ms. Sherrod’s discrimination has come out in full support calling her a friend, repudiating charges of racism, and crediting her with helping to save their family farm.
This morning, the same critics of Ms. Sherrod yesterday were all wondering how this happened, and the White House is asking the Department of Agriculture to reconsider its decision to terminate Ms. Sherrod.
President Obama, Ben Jealous, Administration officials, and cable news commentators, I guess you didn’t get the memo. When it comes to information received from Fox News reports or conservative bloggers, you might want to check it out before acting on it. If not, you might get “snookered.”
But wait a minute. It’s really not their fault. How can I blame the Administration, the NAACP, Fox News or the others when I was almost “snookered” myself? My husband and I chatted about the video Tuesday morning before the truth came out.
The fact is that America’s sore on the issue of race runs deep. It is an ugly gash in the body politic of this country that will not heal unless it is exposed. It sickens all of us in countless ways – even the most well-intentioned. It breeds fear whether it is fear of the browning of America, fear of the dilution of civil rights laws, or fear of a Black president.
How can America heal this sore?
It needs light, air and oxygen to breathe. It needs to be dealt with on a psychological, spiritual, economic and physical level. Healing will breathe life back into our country’s ideals and possibilities.While America has thrived as a great nation in spite of this sore, it is only through healing that we can achieve unprecedented levels of greatness and stop wounding each other.
While we now all agree that the myriad of victims of yesterday’s snookering owe Ms. Sherrod a heartfelt apology, what about all the other countless victims of our country’s sickness who exist in America