Let me say–putting all my cards on the table so to speak–that the Sherrods are my friends. Charles Sherrod, the husband of the now controversial, fired USDA official Shirley Sherrod, was one of the founders and leaders of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). We worked together.
So what are we looking at? Well, the whole video shows Shirley Sherrod using an anecdotal story to describe a prejudicial attitude she had 24 years ago about her reservations with helping white farmers given the plight of black farmers; she used it as an illustration of racial reconciliation. It was important, she said, to get beyond race when it came to helping farmers in need.
Here’s the conclusion Sherrod comes to in her remarks on this matter: ”Working with him made me see that it’s really about those who have versus those who don’t. And they could be black, they could be white, they could be Hispanic–it made me realize that I needed to help poor people.”
In truth, nobody black–at least of a certain age–completely escapes the inclination to mentally mutter: How come the white people get most of the help? That Sherrod was willing to use her own attitude from a quarter century ago seems like a positive thing; especially with a U.S. government department that has been as notoriously racist and discriminatory as the USDA.