Several years ago, Shirley Sherrod — a federal employee —was asked to resign because of slurs against her by a right-wing blogger.
What was Ms. Sherrod’s transgression?
She spoke to a meeting of the Georgia NAACP about the trials Black farmers faced in the mid-to-late 1900s. (Sherrod’s own trials included the murder of her father by a white farmer.)
Sadly, a lot of people don’t like hearing that some members of their group (in this case, white people) have done horrible things — and they’d rather shoot the messenger (in this case, Ms. Sherrod) than face that sad reality.
Toughen Up, People! Every Ethnic Group Has Done Horrible Things
In Ms. Sherrod’s NAACP presentation, she describes the conflict she felt when, after pledging to work with black farmers, she is approached by a white man who (a) seems to look down on her, but (b) expects her to help him anyway.
Her audience of southern Black folks clearly knows what this feels like, and has no trouble recognizing her story of spiritual growth. It’s as if Sherrod is recounting her pain, her struggle and the lessons she learned to friends around her kitchen table.
It’s a rare privilege to listen in while a group that’s not your own speaks frankly about their experience, which is why white people like myself can learn a lot from watching Ms. Sherrod’s presentation.