Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Shirley Sherrod's crocodile tears

Shirley Sherrod, who is the center of controversy over her racial dismissal from the USDA, the latest “hero” to hit the news media echo chamber, said the following regarding The Obama (another hero, so many heros!):


"I'd like to talk to him about the experiences of people like me, people at the grassroots level, people who live out here in rural America people, who live in the South. I know he does not have that kind of experience."

You know, I’d really love to hear that conversation since Shirley Sherrod doesn’t have the “experience” either. Rather Shirley has a whole different experience. Still, Shirley is an expert on race though not quite in the way most imagine. While you read the following by all means keep in mind what Shirley said in the above quote:


Imagine farm workers doing back breaking labor in the sweltering sun, sprayed with pesticides and paid less than minimum wage. Imagine the United Farm Workers called in to defend these laborers against such exploitation by management. Now imagine that the farm workers are black children and adults and that the managers are Shirley Sherrod, her husband Rev. Charles Sherrod, and a host of others. But it’s no illusion; this is fact.

The swirling controversy over the racist dismissal of Shirley Sherrod from her USDA post has obscured her profoundly oppositional behavior toward black agricultural workers in the 1970s. What most of Mrs. Sherrod’s supporters are not aware of is the elitist and anti-black-labor role that she and fellow managers of New Communities Inc. (NCI) played. These individuals under-paid, mistreated and fired black laborers–many of them less than 16 years of age–in the same fields of southwest Georgia where their ancestors suffered under chattel slavery.


The unfortunate story of Mrs. Annie Hawkins and her family in particular is instructive. Persuaded by NCI that their lot would be improved, the Hawkins family stole away from the Georgia plantation that they had called home. After suffering abuse meted out to them and others at NCI, Mrs. Hawkins sadly stated that, “We stole away from one plantation, but just ended up on another.” For her courageous role in demonstrations against the Sherrods and NCI management, Annie Hawkins and her family were fired and kicked out of the house that they were promised. My last encounter with an ailing Mrs. Hawkins took place several years ago in a nursing home where she resided.


At August 07, 2010 6:37 AM, Blogger micah holmquist said...


I wish I had something more profound to say than "thank you for posting this link," but I don't so thank you for posting this link.

At August 07, 2010 10:12 PM, Blogger rob payne said...


Well you are certainly welcome.


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