This isn't Dubois' NAACP. This is a group that is trying to hang on to its glorious past, while looking for something to do in the present to appear relevant. That might explain why they tried to take on the Tea Party.... a complete 180 for an organization that had been dead for many years on the political front. Their rustiness might explain why they chose their issue, without realizing that they were going up against the most powerful PR/Political machine in modern American history (the Republican Right wing media). In other words, they should have had their **** together. It's as if the NAACP arrived here from another planet...and didn't know how the game was played. That's why NAACP President Ben Jealous (who was one of the first "leaders" to throw Shirley Sherrod under the bus without checking the story) ended up being...in his words... "Snookered". I mean.. they discarded Mrs. Sherrod like a dirty diaper. Yet another stain on an already mud soaked organization.
Statement from Ben Jealous (in his effort to stay in front of whatever Faux News and others may have had planned).
“Since our founding in 1909, the NAACP has been a multi-racial, multi-faith organization that– while generally rooted in African American communities– fights to end racial discrimination against all Americans. We concur with US Agriculture Secretary Vilsack in accepting the resignation of Shirley Sherrod for her remarks at a local NAACP Freedom Fund banquet. Racism is about the abuse of power. Sherrod had it in her position at USDA. According to her remarks, she mistreated a white farmer in need of assistance because of his race. We are appalled by her actions, just as we are with abuses of power against farmers of color and female farmers. Her actions were shameful. While 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, she gave no indication she had attempted to right the wrong she had done to this man. The reaction from many in the audience is disturbing. We will be looking into the behavior of NAACP representatives at this local event and take any appropriate action. We thank those who brought this to our national office’s attention, as there are hundreds of local fundraising dinners each year. Sherrod’s behavior is even more intolerable in light of the US Department of Agriculture’s well documented history of denying opportunities to African American, Latino, Asian American, and Native American farmers, as well as female farmers of all races. Currently, justice for many of these farmers is being held up by Congress. We would hope all who share our outrage at Sherrod’s statements would join us in pushing for these cases to be remedied. The NAACP will continue to advance the ideals of America and fight for freedom, justice and fairness for all Americans.”
Ben Jealous failed to get his facts together before making such an important statement. The result? He came away looking like a clown. The President of an organization with a legacy like that of the NAACP can't afford to be that sloppy. Even Mrs. Sherrod could not believe the way she had been discarded.
The NAACP is an embarrassment. This is a group that gives "image" awards to child molesters, rappers, & criminals....and holds them up as pillars of the "Black Community" who others should emulate. Disgusting. They don't represent me. It seems as if I am saying this to myself (and to others) more and more often these days - "they don't represent me". It comes to mind whenever there is an issue of race, where one group or leader is acting on behalf of Black people, or being perceived as speaking for an entire group. This situation makes me say the same thing once again - "they don't represent me". I always find myself explaining this to co-workers, as well as the fact that Blacks aren't a monolith.
The way that the NAACP President treated Sherrod only reinforces my view of the organization. On top of everything else, they have shown themselves to be sloppy & incompetent, at best. I am glad the group at least made an attempt to take on the Tea Party.... but it is clear that they were ill equipped for the mission. This is an organization that is stuck in the 20th Century. It's not ready for a multimedia war with the PR/Media behemoth of Right wing media. The NAACP's failure was a result of the fact that the organization is run by a bloated board of dozens of people (mostly old folks) who have held the group back for years....preventing modernization.
Enter Amy Alexander... a former writer for Ben Jealous himself. Alexander recently wrote a revealing piece describing her experiences at the NAACP. She wrote the piece in response to the Sherrod fiasco. Her story provides an inside look at the organization and confirms what I suspected for years. It's a sad reflection of an organization that was once relevant and respected. But did I also mention that the story is hilarious? Alexander doesn't disappoint when it comes to keeping the reader's attention.
Photo taken from Gina McCauley's blog, What About Our Daughters.