Has anyone ever heard of the National Black Farmers Association? I had not heard of them until Monday night on on the Rachel Maddow Show.
It was an interesting dichotomy for me. I had just returned from Netroots Nation in Las Vegas and been part of the LGBT caucus. Part of what I was stressing in meetings was the need to not just ask others for support for our causes but the need for the LGBT communities to support others.
Allow let me take a step back even further.
As I shared there, it is important to look at the multi-generational discrimination communities of color have faced. It isn't just me in my family who has suffered discrimination. It was grandparents who were barred from entering restaurants. It was my mother and her segregated school. The swimming pool was off limits in Del Rio, Texas for Mexican kids.
Some of the discussions at NN were about the shoddy treatment given to Shirley Sherrod who was fired by the current administration based on a fake, edited videotape put online by a liar. So how many people knew Ms Sherrod's personal history dealing with racism? Surely the Obama administration knew what she has lived with her entire life?
That history includes her father being murdered by white men never brought to justice; her husband was beaten by a gang of white men with ax handles; the family home has been shot at. And that program she was administering to help farmers get help through the USDA? The same USDA has, for generations, administered discrimination, not regulations nor help for black farmers. Many black farmers lost their land due to these discriminatory practices.
The US owes a lot of black farmers billions of dollars. The National Black Farmers Association was founded to address the settlement of suits for affected farmers.
Shirley Sherrod's family was one of those affected by these discriminatory practices. The lost their family farm. While her family has received their settlement, many others have not been given theirs. Why not?
Our friends, the Republicans, keep stripping the money out of bills. The latest was the stripping of the compensation money in the military funding bill. So while the government has acknowledged the racist policies, the R's keep running away from the responsibility the court has ordered.
So when I watched the Rachel Maddow Show the other night, it felt oddly familiar. A group of people who have suffered not just in this generation but in multiple generations. And now that the courts finally ordered justice, they can't this administration to carry the water for them. In fact, they punished someone who has been at the center of suffering for her entire life. The action was outrageous and it was even more outrageous given Shirley Sherrod's life story.
At NN there was an exchange between Dan Choi and Harry Reid. There had been lots of conversations between various parties prior to this. There was lots of coverage of it. At the same event, a group of Latino students stood in front of Harry Reid in silent demonstration for the passage of the DREAM Act. This was a missed opportunity between the Latino and LGBT community. Very few LGBT people mentioned the DREAM students even though they were at the table right next to many members of the queer blogosphere.
Latinos, African Americans, the LGBT community, we are all waiting for change we can believe in. Or now I would settle for some change. In the right direction, of course, but change, damn it!
I can't help but think if we looked across the table we would see more allies. Especially if we reach our hands out to offer something like hope and change. Our enemies are the same, here's a chance to build real coalitions. But we have to act on those opportunities otherwise we will all be left behind, again.