Shirley Sherrod: A lesson in tolerance

Say NO to RacismTonight, Shirley Sherrod said that she plans on suing the conservative blogger Andrew Brietbart who falsely accused her of racism.

We have been following the strange turn of events since July 19th,  when the Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack asked Shirley Sherrod a USDA employee to tend her resignation after a video went viral on the internet depicting Shirley making racist comments.

The racial sensitivity clashed with the viral media and in order to be “Politically correct” they let the employee go, in what turned out to be a very prejudice way just because they wanted to react as fast as the speed of the viral video.

The truth behind the video, were the actions of an overzealous right winger; Sherrod, who is black, was pushed to quit after conservative media repeatedly broadcasted a tape that seemed to show her saying she had discriminated against a white farmer because of his race, where in fact she was trying to make a point that race should not matter- The speech was presented at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People civil rights group. Her speech was basically a lesson in diversity that was totally taken out of context.

Government agencies should exercise better online reputation management systems where they should have picked up that video first and had the time to investigate it, especially we live in a media culture that is very quick and that is controlled by consumers.  If I can set my RSS and Google alerts (simplest form) to manage what is said or published about me online, they should.

President Obama said in an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America” that will be broadcast on Friday: “He jumped the gun, partly because we now live in this media culture where something goes up on YouTube or a blog and everybody scrambles,”.  The President also called the employee and apologized for the discrimination and intolerance she received unjustly.

In a time where many ethnicities in the US are working to integrate, respect, understand, accept and celebrate each other; we see people trying to divide them either on purpose or not; trying to fuel hatred between the two parties, resulting in collateral damage as in the case of Shirley.

We are still a long way from total acceptance, inclusion and tolerance, organizations are so jazzed up to show that they have “0” tolerance for racism and discrimination that they don’t take the time to properly check the facts just to silence the public, meanwhile creating injustice and chaos as a result.

The morale of the story is that it is not important how fast we try to reverse discrimination if we suspect it occurred, but it is more important to make sure that we audit the situation and check the facts properly to avoid losing good employees avoid discrimination and probably avoid a huge lawsuit.

Be tolerant and accepting everyone, remember Diversity starts at home


Sahar Andrade
Executive Director
Sahar Consulting

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