No Benefit Of Doubt
If the episode that made Shirley Sherrod a household name has taught me anything it is the fact that even the most benign action by someone doing their best to inspire or invoke or nurture racial harmony is open to interpretation or manipulation so far out of context that the result can be anything but the sought after, yet elusive, racial harmony.
In a selectively edited video clip of a speech to members of the NAACP that was intended to inspire people in the predominantly black audience to put whatever lingering racial animosity they may harbor against the white community aside and start seeing people as people, Ms. Sherrod was branded a racist who practiced reverse discrimination. The abridged clip showed Ms. Sherrod recalling the first time a white farmer had asked her for help. She recalled how she was tempted to do as little as possible to help the man save his farm.
But if anyone bothered to look at the full video clip, they would see that Ms. Sherrod continued saying that she learned that it isn’t always a black and white thing that we’re dealing with. She learned to see the farmer as someone who needed help and she did what she could to help him. The farmer and his wife consider Ms. Sherrod a dear, close friend and came to her defense as the managers of the Agriculture Department that she worked for, the White House, the NAACP, FOX News, and many other institutions and people moved swiftly to condemn her.
President Barack Obama has a little experience with this issue. When Mr. Obama made his entreaties during the whole Jeremiah Wright affair, trying his best to salvage his bid for the White House, a lot of people didn’t bother to listen to his message and instead interpreted the gesture as some kind of backhand slap against his elderly white grandmother. Just in case you may have forgotten, or just never knew, some people condemned Mr. Obama for throwing his grandmother under the proverbial bus by referring to her as a typical white woman. All some people heard was an insult. To this day these people deny that he said anything positive about race relations. Considering what Mr. Obama went through back then it is even more disappointing that he would stand idly by as Ms. Sherrod was railroaded on behalf of his office.
When it comes to racism, it’s so easy to take the most cursory glance at black people trying to make a statement about our issues regarding race and make gigantic, astonishing, mind bending leaps of conclusions based on fictions that have absolutely nothing to do with anything remotely resembling reality.
Black people who talk about racism are only trying to stoke the fires of racial conflict. Black people want reparations and want to seize power and authority so that we can do to the white community what the white community did to our ancestors, did to our elders, and in some cases, did to us.
It would be ludicrous to try and argue that no black person feels the need to follow the golden rule of the Hebrew bible and demand an eye for an eye. Of course there are black people who are so angry that they want the white community to suffer the same racial animosity that the black community suffered. But not every black person thinks that way and it would be most advantageous if more people, especially other black people, would remember that every now and then. All too often, black people who talk about ending racism are subjected to examples of the very racism that they are trying to bring people’s awareness to.
This is just another example in a long list of our racial hypocrisy. A white celebrity bounty hunter will use a number of racial epithets in reference to his son’s girlfriend, a good ol’ country boy with his own radio show referring to a group of predominantly black women as nappy headed whores, a comedian who let lose with a string of curses at the black people in the audience, and people are more than understanding and ready to give them the benefit of doubt. But black people who have the audacity to talk openly about their past in a message of racial healing are the scorn of our society.
Hopefully you’ll appreciate what I’m trying to say here. No doubt there will be some who won’t, can’t, or will choose not to understand this message. Not everybody who is white is a racist. Not everybody who is black is a racist either. If we can give people who are clearly referring to black people as niggers, whores, and such the benefit of doubt, why would we hesitate to do the same for black people who want to put our race relations in the proper context as well? The benefit of doubt is just another one of those things in life that does not get applied equally along racial lines.