Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Life Lessons From Shirley Sherrod

Have you ever done anything wrong?  Have you ever felt guilt, even when you helped people?
Sherrod can be heard telling an audience at a March 27, 2010, appearance before a local chapter of the NAACP that she had not given a white farmer "the full force of what I could do" to help him save the family farm.
Sometimes the kindest and most giving peoples cannot escape feelings of inadequacy or feelings that they didn't do enough.  Some people call this White Guilt.  Believe it or not, African Americans like Shirley Sherrod experience the same feelings of guilt.  Here is what the farmer had to say
Meanwhile, the farmer referenced in the clip told CNN he credits Sherrod with helping his family save their farm.
"I don't know what brought up the racist mess," Roger Spooner told CNN's "Rick's List." "They just want to stir up some trouble, it sounds to me in my opinion."
Spooner says Sherrod accompanied him and his wife to a lawyer in Americus, Georgia, who was able to help them file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which ultimately saved their farm.
"If it hadn't been for her, we would've never known who to see or what to do," he said. "She led us right to our success."
Shirley Sherrod was only guilty of feelings of inadequacy.  This poor woman has been swept up in the national race debate and she was only helping people.
Spooner's wife, Eloise, remembered Sherrod as "nice-mannered, thoughtful, friendly; a good person."
She said that when she saw the story of the tape and Sherrod's resignation on television, "I said, 'That ain't right. They have not treated her right.' "
We can all learn from this lesson, though.
Sherrod defended herself in a number of interviews Tuesday, saying her controversial comments were taken out of context. She had, she said, used a personal experience from nearly a quarter century ago in which she confronted her own racism and learned to move beyond it.
We can all confront our own racism and learn to move beyond it.