The Persistence of White Supremacy

Here’s the real point about Shirley Sherrod, from a post to the SNCC mailing list.

Ruby Sales is a black activist and theologian who narrowly escaped murder after the Selma-Montgomery March. (The bigot rifleman killed a white theology student instead. The bigot rifleman was then acquitted by an all-white jury.) In case some more Breitbart scum is out there looking to defame her, these are facts.

I am white and I agree 100% with what is below. — DM

While I agree that justice demands reparations in the case of Shirley Sherrod, I also believe that what happened to her is symptomatic of systemic and ideological racism. In the short term restoring Sherrod to her job deals with the issue on an individual basis. However, it fails to contest a bulging and revisionist White supremacist culture that plants its feet in a long tradition of White Historical lies . On this note, to point the finger at Shirley Sherrod follows a pattern of Whites using their presence and voice in the public square to demonize Black people to obscure the truth and nature of  their history and deeds.

 
In constructing this narrative of Black racism, they attempt to set us up before the world as Immoral Whiners and liars who accuse Whites of racism when the real disease lies with us.  They want the world to say how can Black person critique racism when it is a community of raging racists.  Like Europeans who claim that extermination of Jews never happened, these 21st century White cultural warriors want to erase the realities of the world that they made. Not only do they deny the violent and oppressive history of segregation, they destroy memorabilia and cultural artifacts that document its existence while simultaneously destroying  evidence of Black resistance and resilience.
 
These are vicious White cultural warriors who thrive on low intensive conflict and psychological warfare that splits the Black community. That’s why the news focuses more on the role of the NAACP and without naming or holding Andrew Breitbart accountable for his manipulation, race-baiting, racist slander of Shirley Sherrod that resulted in her loosing her job. His is not a benign act. It is an aggressive attack on Shirley and Black people as attested by his charge that because  Blacks clapped at Shirley’s speech, we are the real racists, and he is the righteously indignant White person protecting himself and other Whites from the blows of Black racism.
 
I must disagree that the firing of Shirley was a mistake. It is a pattern of racism and a calculated act designed to remove her from the powerful seat of Director of Agriculture in the South where the land has been a site of White theft, greed and economic exploitation. Saying I am sorry does not do it. The intentions and consequences are too great and costly for Black people and democracy both in the short and long term.
 
Finally, it amazes me that many Blacks and progressives hold up the entire tape as justification that Shirley is not a racist. If we understand systemic and ideological racism, the question for us is not did she or did she not- the question is whether Fox News and  Andrew Breitbart are willing to carry the weight of 300 years of Whites systematically oppressing the Black collectivity and terrorizing it with 100 years of lynching and setting Black bodies on fire while using post cards to circulate and brag on their deeds. From where I sit, they do not have the moral authority. Shirley does and the weight  history is on them!  On this history, I will not retreat or equivocate. just like a tree planted in the water, I shall not be moved!  What about you?
 
I want to end by saying that many of our grandparents and parents were not formally educated like many of us, but they knew White lies when they heard them. They never would have never allowed themselves to hear the lies without a hermeneutics of suspicion and the real truth ringing in their ears. Shaking their heads they would say,” poor White folks, they lie as a matter of habit and training! They just pitiful.” And for the Black person who believed the lies, they  shook their heads in unison and said, Poor John or Annie, that poor child does not have the sense that he was born with.”
 
Ruby Sales
 

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