My personal apology to Shirley Sherrod: A Teachable Moment
I can only hope that at the end of this ordeal we as a country can learn how deeply ingrained race and racism is in our hearts, minds and actions. Even those of us who fight day in and day out to transcend the negative implications of its effect on us often times lose the battle. I believe that what Ms. Sherrod said was one of the most honest depictions of what racism can do to people at certain points in their lives. I for one have had moments where I have done and said things that was not indicative of my true feelings of and for other groups and people, but were said in anger of what I and people like myself have experienced for hundreds of years. Does that make these actions correct? Absolutely not. But have I learned from them and with time been more accepting, caring and careful of how I look at situations? Absolutely. At the end of the day I dare anyone of any race, political agenda, sexual orientation, socio-economic background, or any other demographic to tell me that they have not had similar moments. I will stand before them with complete conviction and call them liars. Because it is human nature, on a subconscious, or conscious level to have these emotions at times. It is what we do with these moments that ultimately judges our individual and collective character.
Ms. Sherrod comes from a family with a painful and historic journey. Her father was murdered by the KKK when she was young. Her husband was a founder of SNCC, one of the most important groups during the Civil Rights Movement. Ms. Sherrod herself helped obtain money for black farmers who were oppressed by the same department that she works for. Yet with all of these trying times in her life where she could simply exist in a cloud of hate for people that do not look like her, she was able to transcend that. We can all learn a valuable lesson from her, her speech to the NAACP and her subsequent actions since this issue broke last week.
Let this be a lesson to us all. Let us learn to continue to work on our own issues, with the hopes of being able to transcend the painful past of our history, while not forgetting it, but embracing what it means today. Most importantly let us learn that looking at the complete picture of things serves us all well in the end. Thank you Shirley Sherrod for all you have done and will continue to do in the advancements of all people. And for those who do not see it this way may the goodness in all humanity, find in you the good graces that you can not find in it.