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Updated on July 23, 2010

By: Wayne Brown

Each week the news seems to just shift to the next disaster in the making. News people should not be at a loss for something to report considering the number of chaotic situations that are currently on the books for the good ol’ USA. The only thing that seems to remain constant is the reaction that I have to the information.

Shirley Sherrod was fired from the Department of Agriculture this week because a portion of a speech she made to an NAACP meeting last year surfaced in the media. The tape appeared to be such a smoking gun that Agriculture Dept. officials refused to let Ms. Sherrod arrive back at her home before demanding her resignation. She literally had to pull over on the side of the road and resign. Now that’s what one can really call a “zero tolerance” policy.

As it works out, Ms. Sherrod was absolved of her wrongdoings and appears to now be headed for a cushy job at headquarters in DC teaching others within the Agricultural Department how to conduct themselves in terms of race, gender, etc. I was relieved that she was not given the assignment to teach others how to make a speech which is really what caused all of this mess in the first place.

As we find out from the media follow ups, Ms. Sherrod was simply trying to share her transformation from a racist to one of servant of all of poor humanity. Of course, she waited until the end of her speech to point out that fact. So with NAACP people around her in the audience offering their affirmation, she related how she took steps to avoid helping a rather uppity white farmer get his comeuppance. Had these folks been aware that she were discussing the “error of her former ways” they might not have been so quick to offer encouraging remarks along the way.

But all of that is history now and likely Ms. Sherrod will have another opportunity to deliver this same story to others over the years. I can only hope that she will take the opportunity to preface it upfront so those listening will understand that there is a lesson contained in the description of her actions as opposed to just listening to someone relate a racist experience. She would be well served by this step in my opinion.

This incident left me wondering where the limits actually are in these situations. No doubt, because it occurred across two racial lines, it was a racial incident. What if it had not been racial? What if the farmer had also been black and still took a position in which he wanted to show Ms. Sherrod that he was ‘superior’ to her. What do you suppose her reaction might have been in that situation? How would she have sorted it out? Would she have given the man all the help he deserved? No one really knows but on the basis of human nature, I would venture a guess that he might have received a very similar treatment that the white farmer received in the incident. But in this scenario, he would have been treated that way not for racial purposes but for the real reason…he was rude!

This is the real story here and it is a rather boring one. Ms. Sherrod came in contact with a rude farmer who happened to be white. It happens to people working in the public sector every day and they don’t like it either. We all want to feel that we are treated fairly and decently. Rude comes in all colors and on a regular basis.

Even though the color may change, we all recognize ‘rude’ when we see it and we all probably have a similar reaction…we are not prone to be abundantly helpful to someone who is treating us in this manner. I dare say that such a reaction will not get you on the nightly news and maybe will never even be noticed by those around you or the person who is dealing out the rudeness. But add the “racist card” and the media will come running to see whose goose gets cooked.

I wrote this piece not as a condemnation of Ms. Sherrod’s actions nor am I implying that a certain aspect of race may not have entered the picture. Only Ms. Sherrod would know that if she could indeed answer such a question objectively. I wrote it to say that we need to frame what we say to others properly and with the timing that prepares the receiver to understand the journey that you are taking them on. Otherwise, someone might just construe your tale to be one of “racism”.

We are all human beings regardless of our skin color or background. We all have our traits, talents, and flaws. For some of us, our flaws seem to overshadow all that is good about us and hide it from those with whom we interact. For some, flaws work to their advantage in that they have been rewarded at times for being pushy and intimidating thus they continue to employ that skill proudly.

In the end, the truth of the matter is that we all have to live with and among each other. It works far better when we can be appreciative and respectful of one another in going about the business of our daily lives. The old Golden Rule still holds truth, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” We need to remember that, use it, and put the race card in a drawer somewhere to collect dust.

©Copyright WBrown2010. All Rights Reserved.


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    • Wayne Brown profile image

      Wayne Brown 7 years ago from Texas

      @Micky Dee...Hey, I have to hope that ad shows up again...I can use the praise! LOL! Thank you, Micky! WB

    • Micky Dee profile image

      Micky Dee 7 years ago

      Well I gave you useful, awesome, and beautiful. You still have made me laugh today. I may as well get into the archives. To be honest I gave you "beautiful" by mistake. I thought the ad for "Bad Idea T-Shirts" was a picture you put up. God bless!

    • Wayne Brown profile image

      Wayne Brown 7 years ago from Texas

      @SilverGenes...I was appalled at the first story then blown away at the explanation. I could not believe this woman would relate such a story without prefacing it. Thanks for the read and your great comments! WB are so right. Conflict sells papers and it makes some folks money as does environmental concerns, etc. As a public, we are preyed upon constantly! Thanks for the visit and your comments. WB

    • K9keystrokes profile image

      India Arnold 7 years ago from Northern, California

      The media would seem to have a motive to continue the perpetuation of sells copy. Shamefully and manipulatively, but it does sell copy. It has been so engrained in us over the centuries that it has most likely become stored deep within our old brain memory, never to be forgotten. Maybe the population needs one swift tap to the head jarring the brain just enough to allow that memory to shake loose and fall away from our being. Unlikely I know, but it would be worth the try?

      ~Always choose love~

    • profile image

      SilverGenes 7 years ago

      This is so well done and yes, the media has a lot to do with perpetuating racism. I've always wondered about phrases like "A 27-year-old (fill race in here) man was arrested for blah blah blah. What is that for? Is it so everyone who is NOT (fill in race here) can say "oh yeah, well that figures"? Love your illustration, too. Excellente!!

    • Wayne Brown profile image

      Wayne Brown 7 years ago from Texas

      @dallas93444...I tried to stop short of quoting Rodney King! LOL...WB

    • dallas93444 profile image

      Dallas W Thompson 7 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      Golden Rule works for me! Thanks for sharing.

    • Wayne Brown profile image

      Wayne Brown 7 years ago from Texas

      @breakfastpop...Thanks, I have had that stuck in my craw all week...needed to get it out! WB

      @Rochelle Frank....LOL, make a good point! What would the media do without some sort of -ism to hang things on. I guess if made it the same gender even then someone might call it "homeyism"! LOL...thanks for your read and comment! WB

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 7 years ago from California Gold Country

      You make excellent points, but if they had been the same race -- as you suggested in the hypothetical example-- it would have been a matter of gender-ism.

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 7 years ago

      Bravo Wayne.

      Your hub really gets to the heart of the matter. I still have an uncomfortable feeling about this incident. Something about it has the ring of a set-up. More thought needed on that for me. Thumbs up!

    • Wayne Brown profile image

      Wayne Brown 7 years ago from Texas

      @Captain Jimmy...thank ya' good captain, I appreciate the read and your comment! WB

    • Captain Jimmy profile image

      Captain Jimmy 7 years ago from WV

    • Tom Whitworth profile image

      Tom Whitworth 7 years ago from Moundsville, WV


      Good lesson in behavior. Aside from illustrating The Golden Rule, it also illustrates the old maxim," You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar". Good Hub!!!!!

    • Wayne Brown profile image

      Wayne Brown 7 years ago from Texas

      @valeriebelew...Thank you Valerie. It is a utopian idea but it would be nice! Thanks for the read and your comments! WB

    • valeriebelew profile image

      valeriebelew 7 years ago from Metro Atlanta, GA, USA

      Good work, Wayne. You touched on an important truism. If we play by the golden rule, racism is not even an option. Its actually the only rule we need in dealing with others. (:v