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The USDA’s Long Racist History

This article doesn’t talk about but the whole racist attack on former Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy by Republicans was based on race which was thrown out of court in 1997 after Rethugs s[pent $20 million prosecuting him on bogus charges.

The Real Story of Racism at the USDA

It’s an astonishing development given the history of race relations at the USDA, an agency whose own Commission on Small Farms admitted in 1998 that “the history of discrimination at the U.S. Department of Agriculture … is well-documented” — not against white farmers, but African-American, Native American and other minorities who were pushed off their land by decades of racially-biased laws and practices.

It’s also a black eye for President Obama and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, who signaled a desire to atone for the USDA’s checkered past, including pushing for funding of a historic $1.15 billion settlement that would help thousands of African American farmers but now faces bitter resistance from Senate Republicans.

Forced Off the Land

Any discussion about race and the USDA has to start with the crisis of black land loss. Although the U.S. government never followed through on its promise to freed slaves of “40 acres and a mule,” African-Americans were able to establish a foothold in Southern agriculture. Black land ownership peaked in 1910, when 218,000 African-American farmers had an ownership stake in 15 million acres of land.

By 1992, those numbers had dwindled to 2.3 million acres held by 18,000 black farmers. And that wasn’t just because farming was declining as a way of life: Blacks were being pushed off the land in vastly disproportionate numbers. In 1920, one of out seven U.S. farms were black-run; by 1992, African-Americans operated one out of 100 farms.

The USDA isn’t to blame for all of that decline, but the agency created by President Lincoln in 1862 as the “people’s department” did little to stem the tide — and in many cases, made the situation worse.

After decades of criticism and an upsurge in activism by African-American farmers, the USDA hosted a series of “listening sessions” in the 1990s, which added to a growing body of evidence of systematic discrimination:

Black farmers tell stories of USDA officials — especially local loan authorities in all-white county committees in the South — spitting on them, throwing their loan applications in the trash and illegally denying them loans. This happened for decades, through at least the 1990s. When the USDA’s local offices did approve loans to Black farmers, they were often supervised (farmers couldn’t spend the borrowed money without receiving item-by-item authorization from the USDA) or late (and in farming, timing is everything). Meanwhile, white farmers were receiving unsupervised, on-time loans. Many say egregious discrimination by local loan officials persists today. Read the rest of this entry »

 

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White House, Visilak Apologize to Sherrod

White House Apologizes to Shirley Sherrod

The White House has apologized to Shirley Sherrod for its hasty firing of her over an out-of-context video. “Without a doubt, Miss Sherrod is owed an apology,” said Robert Gibbs at his afternoon press conference. “I would do so on behalf of this administration.” But will she be rehired at the USDA? Unclear. He said agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack is trying to reach Sherrod to personally apologize, “and they will talk about their next steps,” reports Politico.

“I think, clearly, that a lot of people involved in the situation … acted without all the facts,” said Gibbs, who faced a lengthy grilling over the controversy. “A disservice was done. An apology is owed. That’s what we’ve done.”

USDA Secretary Visilak Apologizes

Agriculture chief Tom Vilsack said he personally called the ousted USDA employee today to apologize and offer her a new job, reports CNN. She was “extraordinarily gracious,” said Vilsack, but she’s going to think about that job offer for a while.

“A good woman has gone through a difficult time, and I will have to live with that for a very long time,” said Vilsack.

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2010 in Stupid Democrat Tricks

 

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Plot Thickens In Sherrod Firing!

Hmmmm… Turns out Shirley Sherrod and her husband were part of the Pigford settlement, which was the ulti-billion dollar lawsuit by black farmers against the USDA, which had denied them loans based on race.

It also appears that the reason for the quick action in firing Mrs. Sherrod may well have been in at least some part,  blowback from that settlement.

Official Ousted From Ag Department Had Taken USDA to Court, Won

The Agriculture Department has a lengthy history with the official forced to resign Monday over a controversial YouTube clip — it turns out she and a group she helped found with her husband won millions last year in a discrimination suit settlement with the federal government.

The information about the suit only thickens the plot that has evolved seemingly by the hour since Shirley Sherrod resigned late Monday as the department’s Georgia director of rural development.

She claims the video clip, which showed her telling a story about how she withheld her full assistance to a white farmer, omitted key details, and she argues she was pushed out by the Obama administration without getting a chance to tell her side. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is standing by his decision.

But it’s not the first time Sherrod faced off against the federal government. Days before she was appointed to the USDA post last year, her group reportedly won a $13 million settlement in a longstanding discrimination suit against the USDA known commonly as the Pigford case. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2010 in Great American Rip-Off

 

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NAACP Reverses Position on Shirley Sherrod, Asks Administration to Rehire Her

Which raises the question – knowing where the original video came from, and Brietbart’s established reputation to lie and creatively edit…

WTF did the Obama Administration go chickenshit?

This was truly a “High-tech lynching!”

And no less criminal than the old lynching.

The New conservative lynch mob...No so different from the old lynch mob.

NAACP Reverses, Asks US to Rehire USDA Worker

NAACP leaders are calling on the Obama administration to reconsider its ousting of a black Agriculture Department worker who was pushed out of her job over racially tinged remarks, reversing their previous criticism of the employee.

NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous said in a statement that the group was “snookered” into believing that USDA

employee Shirley Sherrod expressed racist sentiments at a local NAACP meeting in Georgia earlier this year. Jealous said conservative activist Andrew Breitbart, whose website posted video of Sherrod’s remarks, deceived millions of people by releasing only partial clips. He said the full video makes clear that Sherrod was telling a story of racial unity.

Now that the NAACP has watched the full video of Shirley Sherrod’s speech, it has retracted its criticism of the former USDA employee and called on the government to restore her job, reports AP. The group, which initially professed to be “appalled,” says it was “snookered by Fox News and Tea Party Activist Andrew Breitbart into believing she had harmed white farmers because of racial bias,” notes Politico.

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2010 in Faux News, Stupid Tea Bagger Tricks

 

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The Railroading of Shirley Sherrod? If So, It’s Time For Criminal Charges and Penalties…

Faux News is blasting this highly edited tape of a speech given by Shirley Sherrod at her local NAACP Chapter.  In the speech, she admits being conflicted about providing support to a white farmer 24 years ago when she worked with the Georgia field office for the Federation of Southern Cooperative/Land Assistance Fund (not the USDA), Mrs. Sherrod appears to giving a lesson on how she learned that race had no place in how she dealt with people. They byline of the story promoted by Faux, is that Mrs. Sherrod is “bragging about discriminating against whites.”

Secretary Visilak has fired Mrs. Sherrod, and yesterday, NAACP President Ben Jealous issued this statement –

“Racism is about the abuse of power. Sherrod had it in her position at USDA. According to her remarks, she mistreated a white farmer in need of assistance because of his race.

We are appalled by her actions, just as we are with abuses of power against farmers of color and female farmers.

Her actions were shameful. While she went on to explain in the story that she ultimately realized her mistake, as well as the common predicament of working people of all races, she gave no indication she had attempted to right the wrong she had done to this man.”

But there now appears to be a hole in the story presented by Faux. Just as in the ACORN Pimp case, the tape appears to have been carefully edited to exclude exactly what Mrs. Sherrod was saying.

I feel that it is time for the Department of Justice to step in and subpoena the entire tape. Should the exculpatory evidence be found on that tape, or it be found that Big Government and Faux willfully misrepresented the content or context of that speech – then criminal charges should be brought against all Big Government and Faux News employees responsible.

These charges should not be limited to individuals. If it is found that, as Mrs. Sherrod claims, the rest of the speech deals with how she personally exorcised the demons of racism – then, in light of a pattern of willful misrepresentation, injurious to individuals, their careers, as well as to ACORN, representing a criminal pattern, resulting in the loss of thousands of jobs –  a petition should be filed by the DOJ to the FCC to remove Faux News’ broadcast license under the Telecom Act of 1937.

As to Ben Jealous pulling the trigger on this one so fast –

Ben – you fucked-up in not investigating fully the charges and the actual truth, especially in light of the historical pattern of racism, criminal misrepresentation, and lies put forth both by Faux and Big Government. It may well be that Mrs. Sherrod is innocent (it is possible she isn’t).

HOWEVER – I believe she should have been given the right to a fair hearing and investigation.

Resigned USDA official says racial story misconstrued

The USDA’s rural development director for Georgia says she was forced out of her federally appointed job after a “snippet” of a speech she gave in March appeared to show her admission to only half-heartedly aiding a struggling white farmer because of his race.

But in a phone interview from her home in Albany early Tuesday morning, Shirley Sherrod told the Atlanta-Journal Constitution that the two-minute, 38-second video posted online Monday by biggovernment.com and reported on by FoxNews.com and the AJC completely misconstrued the message she was trying to convey.

Sherrod, 62, insisted her statements in the video were not racist.

“For Fox to take a spin on this like they have done, and know it’s not the truth … it’s very upsetting,” she said.

In the video Sherrod, who is black, admits to the crowd at the NAACP banquet she didn’t do everything she could to help a white farmer whom she said was condescending when he came to her for aid.

“What he didn’t know while he was taking all that time trying to show me he was superior to me was, I was trying to decide just how much help I was going to give him,” Sherrod said in the video recorded March 27 in Douglas in southeast Georgia.

“I was struggling with the fact that so many black people had lost their farmland, and here I was faced with having to help a white person save their land. So I didn’t give him the full force of what I could do. I did enough.

But Tuesday morning, Sherrod said what online viewers weren’t told in reports posted throughout the day Monday was that the tale she told at the banquet happened 24 years ago — before she got the USDA job — when she worked with the Georgia field office for the Federation of Southern Cooperative/Land Assistance Fund.

Sherrod said the short video clip excluded the breadth of the story about how she eventually worked with the man over a two-year period to help ward off foreclosure of his farm, and how she eventually became friends with him and his wife.

“And I went on to work with many more white farmers,” she said. “The story helped me realize that race is not the issue, it’s about the people who have and the people who don’t. When I speak to groups, I try to speak about getting beyond the issue of race.”

Sherrod said the farmer, Roger Spooner of Iron City, Ga., has since died.

Responding to what he knew of the video Monday evening, Atlanta NAACP chapter president R.L. White recalled many years of unfair treatment against minority farmers when he told the AJC that the footage, at face value, “does suggest unfair treatment.”

“The playing table should be leveled,” said White, who wasn’t at the March event. “Everyone, regardless of race, creed or color, should be treated same way, regardless of the race of the administrator.”

And in a statement released to Fox News, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Sherrod’s resignation.

“There is zero tolerance for discrimination at USDA, and I strongly condemn any act of discrimination against any person,” Vilsack said in the statement.

An AJC reporter called Sherrod’s Albany home Monday evening but was unable to contact her until she reached out shortly after midnight.

“They were just looking at what the Tea Party and what Fox said, and thought it was too (politically) dangerous for them,” she said of the agriculture department.

The revelation of Sherrod’s statements came a week after the NAACP issued a resolution calling the National Tea Party racist for comments made against President Barack Obama and African-American congressmen during the health care debate.

Sherrod, 62, was appointed to her position in by Obama’s administration in July 2009 to manage more than 40 housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs, and more than $114 billion in federal loans.

The AJC is trying to recover the full video footage of Sherrod’s speech to the Douglas NAACP.

She said the circumstances made it absurd for her to have made any racist comment.

“There were some white people there. The mayor (of Douglas) was there,” Sherrod recalled. “Why would I do something racist if they were there?”

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2010 in Domestic terrorism, Faux News

 

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Congress to Black Farmers…”The Check is in the Mail”

Looks like the black farmers got shafted again –

The USDA for decades denied black farmers loans they freely gave to white farmers.

Congress misses deadline for payments to black farmers

The federal government promised last month to pay more than $1 billion by the end of March to tens of thousands of black farmers who had filed decades-old discrimination complaints against the U.S. Agriculture Department.

But Congress headed home for a two-week recess without appropriating the money, and the farmers are frustrated that the agreement’s March 31 deadline was not met. The White House and congressional leaders say they want to pay the restitution, but farmers in the case say the government has been slow to deliver.

“The administration announced this settlement like this was all over, but we haven’t gotten a dime,” said John Boyd, president of the National Black Farmers Association. “Right now, it’s planting time, and we thought we would have the funds in time for this season.”

Boyd said he is sure the government and the farmers will be able to agree on an extension to the settlement, which compensates black farmers who were unfairly denied farm operating loans. But he is worried that with a tight budget and busy schedule, the farmers’ case — known as Pigford — will continue to be overlooked when Congress returns.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack sent letters last month to congressional leaders, who have been embroiled with health care legislation, asking them to appropriate money for the settlement, and said this week that resolving cases of discrimination is a department priority.

The White House is also “working with Congress with some urgency to get this done as fast as possible,” deputy press secretary Bill Burton said.

Native American farmers, who filed an unresolved lawsuit alleging discrimination against the USDA in 1999, are watching the Pigford settlement closely. Court proceedings in the case of Native American farmers, known as Keepseagle, have been put on hold while they negotiate with the government. The deadline for a settlement in their case is April 21.

Late last week, Rep. Dale E. Kildee (D-Mich.) and Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) — co-chairmen of the Congressional Native American Caucus — sent a joint letter to Vilsack and Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. asking for an update on the case and saying Native American farmers and ranchers had “lost substantial revenues and lands that had been in their families for generations” because of years of “offensive discrimination.”

The Keepseagle case is not contingent on congressional approval, unlike Pigford, and if the settlement deadline is not met, the case could go to trial in district court.

“All our clients seek is to have their claims compensated at a level that is comparable to the settlement in the Pigford case,” said Joe Sellers, lead attorney for the Native American farmers. “There’s still several weeks before the stay is due to expire where we can make progress. I know our clients are frustrated, [but] they haven’t given up hope.”

 
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Posted by on April 1, 2010 in American Genocide, Black History

 

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Another Republican Failure – U.S. Ranks in Top 5 in Worst Food Safety Culprits

Within two hours of Bush’s swearing-in on Jan. 20, White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card halted publication of most new regulations in the Federal Register and postponed for 60 days the start of rules already published. To figure out which food rules should stay and which should go, members of the Bush administration are calling each of the USDA’s 29 agencies looking for food-related proposals, executive orders and announcements for review. Veneman and a team of Bush’s top policy advisers will decide which rules they like and which ones they want to change or toss out entirely.

The conservative “gub’ment deregulation fever” led to the deaths of hundreds of Americans, and sickening nearly 70 million a year. After 8 years of the Bushit destroying Food Safety, the United States now ranks near the bottom

A new international food safety monitoring tool has been developed to track food safety offenses by country, and the results don’t look good for the U.S. It joins China, Turkey, Iran, and Spain as the five countries with the worst records of food safety.

The new tool uses massive amounts of food recall data collected from 2003 to 2008 to make it’s calculations, and it’s all available online in a user-friendly format for anyone to see, even if it is still obviously geared towards researchers. According to one of the tool’s developers, D. P. Naughton, “No other system can reflect the complexity of this information in a snapshot form.” This advanced level of food safety analysis should prove particularly useful to developing countries, many of which still don’t have comprehensive food safety programs.

This is perhaps the first time such a massive amount of food recall data has been compiled and analyzed in this way, and the results should wake America up. Why is the richest nation in the world doing such a terrible job protecting its citizens from food contamination?

The answer to that question is complex, but a two simple things are clear: Our industrial system that prioritizes speed and low cost is dangerous, and we need to do something about it now.

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2010 in Stupid Republican Tricks

 

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