Black farmers across the United States have been the victims of systematic discrimination for several decades. This has been proven in court, and the United States Department of Agriculture has agreed to pay a $1.25 billion dollar settlement. What is saddest about the settlement, however, is that Congress has not yet approved the funds. This is another form of racism that the farmers must face, since their justice is being consistently denied by government officials who are insistent upon remaining stubborn.
The USDA came under increased scrutiny recently in the unjust firing of Shirley Sherrod. I am hopeful that the sloppy handling of the Sherrod incident is not indicative of the way the USDA does business. In fact, groups have been calling for the firing of the Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. At the very least, the way Ms. Sherrod has been treated should be a lightning rod to bring the plight of black farmers to the surface of our collective conscience.