copyright 2010 Betsy L. Angert. BeThink.org
Once you label me you negate me. ~ SÃ¸ren Aabye Kierkegaard [Danish Philosopher 1813 to 1855]
The much acclaimed Roland Martin, a Cable News Network Analyst, reacted to a partial report. Apparently, Mister Martin, acknowledged for his insightful and provocative assessments, heard but a bit of an edited video and responded on a national stage. Admittedly, barely informed, and unaware of the background, the CNN Correspondent spoke of his antipathy for what he defined as a racist reality. The frequently featured Journalist offered his fervent judgment of Federal Department of Agriculture Director Shirley Sherrod's actions, none of which occurred. On Tuesday, July 20, 2010, late in the afternoon, given an opportunity to listen to and speak with the object of his scorn, Shirley Sherrod, the righteous Roland Martin refused to open his mind and ears. Mister Martin avowed racism is racism regardless of when it occurs or if it is repeated years later. The consequence, tears and fears flourished. These were my own.
Having been captivated by the Sherrod's story, impressed with the woman's courage, spunk and openness I had tuned into Cable News Network's Rick's List. I was anxious to hear, what I had hoped would be an apology from the White House, which Ms Sherrod had been told early in the day required her resignation. I also thought possibly, the NAACP, the National Association of Colored Persons would acknowledge the errors of its statements. After all, I, as million more saw the supposed objects of Shirley Sherrod's discriminatory deeds speak in her defense. However, these occurrences did not appear on the television screen. Instead, Roland Martin and his vociferous rant appeared.
Martin: -- the position that I stated, again -- and I was very clear on that. And it is no different whether it was 24 years ago for me -- allow me to finish.Shocked and surprised by the superciliousness of the situation and the man who speaks of faith, his latest tome being, Listening to the Spirit Within I stood speechless, my mouth agape. All day I had the followed news. Regardless of what each of the parties involved in the actual interaction proclaimed, Roland Martin Stood stalwart. The thoughts Ms Sherrod expressed and the fact that the now former Director did not act on her expressed bias did not change Mister Martin's chosen reality. The same spiritual man, who preached that no one has the right to judge, a man of the Lord proclaimed Ms Shirley Sherrod wrong. Apparently, Roland Martin had forgotten his own faith and feelings.
Sherrod: I'm not saying that because I'm a black person. I want you to understand that I have never leaned on my blackness.
Martin: The point I'm making is whether something is 24 years ago, whether it is something today, in terms of when people are making decisions against someone else, saying I didn't do enough or I have preconceived notions, that to me was the issue that I spoke to. And for me -- . . .
I will still say, Rick, whether or not I hear the whole thing or not, what I want people to do, whether they are somebody who was born in the '40s, the '50s, the '60s or whether today, is not make judgments, not make a decision as to how I'm going to help somebody more or less based upon those preconceived notions.
I stand here today not as a Republican or a liberal. And don't bother calling me a Democrat or a conservative. I am a man, an African-American man who has professed that Jesus Christ is Lord, and that's to whom I bow down.
Mister Martin, the he who cast the stones led me to respond, for the first time online at Ricks List. I share what I fear may have fallen on deaf ears. I scribed and sent out into cyberspace. . .
I was stunned to the point of tears when Roland Martin offered Shirley Sherrod, a berated Agriculture Department associate, what for me was an unbelievable remark. "It makes no difference . . ." in essence, it does not matter to Mister Martin whether Shirley Sherrod had said, done, or only intended something she later, indeed, almost immediately, regretted twenty-four years ago?!
I cannot find the words to express the silliness that I feel is Mister Martin's observation. I inquire; is Roland Martin the same person he was yesterday, will be tomorrow, or was some score ago?
I think Roland Martin has sent a message to his progeny, through television, to yours, mine, and ours of defeatism. In short, he has said that he believes no one grows, changes, evolves, and can years later, teach through experience. As an Educator, as a human being, as one who has faith that our errors are opportunities to learn . . . to say I am . . . I can only cry!
Mister Martin, I look forward to the day that you think through your truth. [I anxiously await the moment when each of us grows greater. I yearn for the time when bigotry, racial or rationalizations offered as reasons to rebuke another do not rule us.] I wonder; have you not already had life altering experiences that have helped you teach others? If not. . I invite your reflection.