Shirley Sherrod, the USDA employee fired over false racism allegations, has been offered a new government job. But she says she might turn it down, and she wants to talk to Obama directly. Will he make the call?
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who asked for Sherrod's resignation after conservative mogul Andrew Breitbart published an edited tape making it look like she'd discriminated against a white farmer, has now offered her a job with the USDA's Office of Civil Rights and Community Outreach. However, she said on Good Morning America today that she's likely to turn it down, explaining, "I would not be that individual that the department, everyone is looking to to solve the issue of racism in USDA. It takes a lot more to get that job done." And while the White House has offered Sherrod an official apology, she wants to talk to Obama directly.
On GMA, Sherrod said of the President, "I'd like to talk to him about the experiences of people like me, people at the grassroots level, people who live out here in rural America people, who live in the South. I know he does not have that kind of experience." She added, "He is not someone who has experienced what I have experienced through life, being a person of color. He might need to hear some of what I could say to him." What Obama does have experience with: dealing with racial missteps (real or perceived). The AP mentions the outcry over his comments on Henry Louis Gates's arrest last year, and the subsequent "beer summit" he held to address concerns. Will Obama be holding a similar summit now?
Of a personal message from Obama, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs says "I wouldn't rule it out." "But," notes the AP, "Gibbs didn't rule it in either." Maybe he should. Of the White House's reaction to the Sherrod scandal, Wade Henderson, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, told the AP, "I think the desire to avoid conflict and accusations of racial insensitivity actually walked them into the very problem they were trying to avoid." As @MarisaMishka wisely tweeted (yes, I just used those two words together) yesterday, Sherrod may have been forced to resign in part "so that the Obama administration can prove to white ppl that Black people aren't a threat." Now, Obama needs to prove to everyone — Sherrod most of all — that he's not going to cater to white right-wingers' fears of some sort of black conspiracy. As commenter andBegorrah said yesterday, "I wonder what kind of beer Sherrod and Vilsack like."
Shirley Sherrod: Obama 'Is Not Someone Who Has Experienced What I Have Experienced Through Life' [ABC]
Sherrod Row Sucks Obama Into Race Debate, Again [CBS]
Shirley Sherrod Wants To Talk To President Obama [Washington Post Federal Eye Blog]