Look! Black People Are Totally Racist Too!

[Cross-posted from Feministe]

Fox News dropped this bombshell in the early hours of July 20 (or the late night of July 19, as it is for me). Apparently someone was able to dig up a video of a black USDA worker telling an audience of other black people about having to help a white farmer keep his land when so many black people had lost their land, and how she “didn’t give him the full force of what [she] could do”. She states that he was “trying to show [her] he was superior to [her]“. As Fox admits, this is a short clip of a much longer speech that is not available, apparently in which “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”. It’s not as if that makes it right for her to abuse her government position like that, however it does put some context behind the story — it’s not like it’s some kind of gathering where a bunch of black people are sharing stories of how they stuck it to the Man.

Of course this is being used as the “SEE! THE NAACP IS FULL OF RACISTS TOO!” card to counter the relatively tame NAACP’s passing of “a resolution to condemn extremist elements within the Tea Party“. Although I thought that racist letter to Abraham Lincoln was what the Tea Party was using to counter that resolution. Of course her not giving her all to help a white farmer keep his land when you’re a government worker charged with doing just that is wrong, not just because she did it because he was white and acting superior, but because that’s supposed to be her JOB. Her motivations are the least of it. This reminds me of the 2008 campaign, when the Republicans busted out Reverend Wright to make Obama look like a racial separatist. You can always find some example of black people saying foolish things if you dig far enough. Unfortunately you don’t have to dig too far to find examples of Tea Party racism.

Maybe I’ve got this all wrong, though. Perhaps by highlighting this incident of individual bias against a white farmer by a black USDA worker, The Tea Partiers may be clumsily trying to start a dialogue about the years of racial discrimination against black farmers by the USDA. I’m sure they really mean to protest the delay in payment of racial bias settlements awarded to black farmers in the Pigford case. Surely that’s what’s behind this, and it’s not just a pathetic attempt at crying “reverse racism” to discredit the NAACP.

It’s going to take more than a video of one black woman telling a story about not giving 110% to help a white farmer to counter the months of viciously racist sentiments expressed by Tea Party leaders and followers. Show me some video of a black person spitting on a white Congressman. Tell me when a group of black protesters start screaming “cracker” at white Representatives. Yes, she didn’t do a great job. But that doesn’t mean the Tea Party doesn’t have a whole lot of racists in its ranks. Spend some time tending your own yard before you try shitting in ours.

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  • RachelB

    This reminds me of the 2008 campaign, when the Republicans busted out Reverend Wright to make Obama look like a racial separatist. You can always find some example of black people saying foolish things if you dig far enough.

    *nodding* Digging that's always done in bad faith. Some of that foolishness seems to me to be in the ears of the beholders, too. In context, I didn't think Pastor Wright sounded ridiculous. America has not upheld its promises to all of its citizens and deserves some criticism for its hypocrisy? I'd co-sign that.

    As far as the sermon clips that the news stations had running on repeat, I have heard liberal white preachers call U.S. society to account in very similar terms. But my goodness, it was amazing (not really) to see how pearl-clutchy and panicked even self-avowed white progressives get, hearing things they would themselves agree with spoken by a black man, especially one who's– quite sensibly– pissed.

    Thank you for this post, Ms. Fierce.

    • http://www.redvinylshoes.com Tasha Fierce

      But my goodness, it was amazing (not really) to see how pearl-clutchy and panicked even self-avowed white progressives get, hearing things they would themselves agree with spoken by a black man, especially one who’s– quite sensibly– pissed.

      I know, it's the old Angry Black Man stereotype, scaring off the white people.

  • http://lifeonfats.com Bree

    Shortly after that edited video appeared, it turns out one of the journalists who broke the story, Andrew Breitbart, is a very conservative writer who has a history of embellishing and exaggerating to make non-conservatives and others who he disagrees with look bad. The USDA is considering giving her job back. Also, the farmer and his wife came out to support her, saying she never made any negative remarks to them.

    You would think in this day and age of modern technology, not to believe everything you see on video!

    • http://www.redvinylshoes.com Tasha Fierce

      Wow, I'd say journalist is the wrong word for him.

  • http://www.wordsole.com Beth

    Just had to comment on this. Now that it's become clear that Shirley Sherrod was treated horribly and lied about and slandered, people are tripping over themselves to point fingers at each other and place blame. And there's plenty to go around. But I think the larger point of your post still stands. Even if Sherrod HAD said those things without the context we now know about. Even if she HAD done the things that Breitbert said she did, it wouldn't make the Tea Party any less racist. And her actions many years ago wouldn't be comparable to the vicious and frightening displays of the people holding up signs calling Barack Obama Hitler or screaming about "taking back their country."

    It's getting lost in the story, because no one wants to talk about the systemic and virulent racism within the Tea Party. So, even knowing what we know now, I think you're right on. I wish more people recognized it.