Friday, July 23, 2010

And Don't Call Me Shirley....Though I Do Sport a Nice Set of NAACP-Ben Jealous Tire Marks on My Back

Surely you don't think that Mrs. Shirley Sherrod is the first black woman to be thrown under the Escalade by NAACP President and CEO Ben Todd Jealous?

As Princeton professor Melissa Harris Lacewell quite succinctly put it, "the villification of black women for sport and political gain" is as old as our republic. But the most upsetting aspect of L'Affair Sherrod, Harris-Lacewell said during an interview on MSNBC last week, is that it exposed the NAACP as being a part of this historic mistreatment of black women. Moreover, "To say [Sherrod's] last name alone should have prompted, for the head of the NAACP, an immediate moment of pausing," Harris-Lacewell said, referring to Jealous' quick decision to "denounce" Sherrod for a fake-ass "reverse racism" speech that a right-wing blogger put out.

Yes, well.

If this were a motion picture, right here the soundtrack would swell with cascading string instruments, that universal sound of an approaching Flashback.......

I first met Benjamin T. Jealous in early May 2009.

We sat down in a back booth at Chipotle on Ellsworth Drive, in downtown Silver Spring, Maryland.

A mutual friend had connected us, though in Washington D.C. lingo, "friend" can mean a Pro contact, a Source, or an Associate. Got it?

Anyway:

I needed a job. Ideally one that didn't involve writing for dubious Websites or PR firms that flak for guns, booze, or the GOP.

Ben needed a Real Journalist...or so he said.

As he laid it out between the big bites of tortilla something or other and soda pop that he consumed, the NAACP was planning an Investigative Unit. In his description, this was to be a collection of staffers and volunteers throughout the association's 1,200 or so branches and chapters nationwide. The plan was to set up "investigative units" -- folks trained in the fundamentals of good old-fashioned journalism, and armed with cameras, and Internet-access -- to report on developments in their jurisdictions.

The units would be directed by a Communications manager in D.C. or Baltimore, and the "content" delivered by the units would be produced at the NAACP's soon to be redesigned main website. The Communications manager of the unit would report to the association's communications chief, based in D.C. Because I had done award-winning work in "legacy" and digital media -- at big newspapers, magazines; in broadcast journalism, including at NPR, and on the Web -- in addition to having written nonfiction books about Serious Black Stuff, whew, right? -- I was the right person for the Manager of Web Content and Special Investigations job, Jealous said.

I sipped water, and watched him from across the table. (I was too broke to buy a meal; he had offered, but I declined.) We seemed to be simpatico: He grew up in Northern California, in Monterey, a hop skip down the coast from where I grew up, in San Francisco. He had worked in newspapers, the African-American press, as a journeyman reporter and then as head of an association of black newspapers. A decade younger than I am, Ben Jealous seemed familiar to me -- passionate about improving the conditions of black Americans, and about social justice in general. "Light-skinned bourgeoise," is how one friend of mine, a black British journalist who knew Jealous socially, would later refer to Jealous and other members of his inner-circle.

But at our first meeting, I mostly saw a youngish brother who apparently wanted to bring the nation's oldest civil rights organization into the 21st Century. Sure, he seemed a bit green -- he stumbled over words from time to time, with the odd hard consonant getting stuck in his throat -- but I heard a sharp intellect there, too.

"With all this new digital technology, and given our networks across the nation, we have a great opportunity to take civil rights work to a new level," Jealous said, referring to the prospect of activating NAACP members to serve as "eyewitness reporters" in their own communities. I said I believed I could help. (And I meant it.) We also talked about mutual acquaintances in the shrinking world of major media, and our respective families. Jealous has a lovely wife and an adorable toddler daughter; I have two elementary school aged children, a great family in San Francisco....and a problematic former husband in D.C.

Jealous said he would connect me to the Vice President of Communications at the NAACP's office in D.C. (which I learned is called the "Washington Bureau.)


I-Teams? What I-Teams?

That is how I came to be the Voice of Ben Jealous for much of the summer of 2009. Not the head of the "I-unit" -- which, I soon learned, was being "temporarily" tabled -- but the writer of Jealous' op-eds, and of the Official Statements, and Press Releases for the association. But mostly, between June and August of last summer, I masqueraded as Jealous in the pages of The Nation, U.S. News and World Report, CNN.com, and on several other high-traffic websites. (Check out these enclosed links -- they take you to columns by "Ben Jealous," all reported and written by yours' truly.)

That NAACP Communications chief that Jealous hooked me up with? Oy gevalt. A truly Vampiric black woman in her late 50s. You know the type -- utterly in denial about the fading of their formerly femme fatale physique yet still committed to thigh-high skirts and Tx3s -- Too Tight Tops. In Vampira's case, sometimes on special occasions, she augmented this look with 5-inch high heels.....Lucite, see-through heels. That's right, just like those that some hookers and sex-workers delight in.

On my first day at the "Washington Bureau" of the association, Vampira essentially turned me into Ben's mouthpiece, saying she needed "help" writing. Was Ben aware that I was not, in fact, working on building the I-team that he had described at our first meeting? Good question. Wish I had the answer. Vampira said that my writing skills were needed to "help out, just for now," on a couple of campaigns that the NAACP was ramping up: Save Troy Davis (a black man on Death Row in Georgia), and advancing the big 100th Anniversary Convention of the NAACP, scheduled for the second week of July 2009.

Why not?, was my initial response, not only because I am a Team Player but also because my spider senses told me that Vampira and Jealous had a co-dependent relationship, i.e., she served his insatiable need to be in the national spotlight, and he saw to it that the association pays Vampira a tidy six figure salary. Oh, I almost forgot to mention: In short order, after I arrived to work in the association's D.C. office on NW 15th Street in early June 2009, I realized that Ben Jealous has this....thing about being in the Limelight. Yes, sadly, that is (or at least it WAS at that time) the association's entire Communications Strategy -- Get Ben in the National Press. I was new to this kind of Communications work -- which Vampira referred to as "the Dark Side" -- but the intense focus on getting Ben into the press struck me as.....extreme.

For example, not long after I started work, Ben Jealous appeared as a panelist on HBO's "Real Time, with Bill Maher." He turned up in Maher's Southern Cal studio on June 12, 2009, wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the slogan for the NAACP's "Save Troy Davis" campaign, it read "IAMTROYDAVIS.com." (Yeah, you want snappy messaging? ColorOfChange.org this ain't.) Troy Davis is a black man convicted several years ago of the shooting death of a white policeman in Georgia, and the NAACP had joined forces with Amnesty International and a few other human rights organizations to try to get a new trial for Davis. I won't go into the complicated and, frankly, ambiguous details of the Davis case here. But I will say that I dug in on writing op-ed after op-ed in support of this effort largely because I do believe America's criminal justice system often unfairly locks up black men.

Is Troy Davis truly innocent? You got me. And, as I sat in on phone calls with Vampira, the association's legal partners, and activists in Georgia, it eventually became clear to me that the NAACP couldn't be entirely positive, either, that Davis was innocent.

But that is the thing about the New Generation NAACP as I witnessed it last summer under Ben Jealous' leadership: Details are for Old Schoolers! Gray-beards who just don't get it! Deep thinking, homework, rigorous study and research takes time, is unglamorous, and usually is not captured by cable and network news cameras. And here is another problem, given the wacked-out Communications Strategy I describe above: Jealous rejected -- according to Vampira -- every opportunity to improve his on-camera performance skills. Yeah, I know -- paradoxically crazy, right?


"What're You Gonna Do?"

Because what I saw during Jealous' turn at Maher's desk in June 2009 was a handsome, passionate, articulate black man.....who has a speech impediment.

Yes, there it is, I said it.

And while it is inherently a minor thing, which millions of people world-wide experience, for Ben Jealous, it is emblematic of a larger issue, i.e., his out-sized ego and the high degree to which he is coddled by Vampira and a retinue of flunkies, sychopants, and hangers-on within and without the association.

More to the point, Jealous' unwillingness to accept expert help to overcome his stuttering is also symbolically resonant of the current state of the NAACP -- so close to the edge of greatness, yet so unable to pull back from the Olde Time Patriarchy that self-destructs on its best intentions every single time. (Remember Ben Chavis as NAACP president during the early '90s? I do, since I covered his downfall for The Miami Herald. Then there was Kweisi Mfume, who..... oh Mercy. Ben Jealous, to my knowledge, has not used association funds to pay off Women Not His Wife to keep them quiet about sexual liaisons. But the cult of President-and-CEO Hero Worship is, sadly, alive and well at the NAACP.

The association's late-breaking forays into social media and "coalition-building" with human rights organizations is mostly window-dressing. The installation several months ago of Roslyn Brock as Chairman of the NAACP may be a glimmer of hope for true progress. Still, that is not a lock. I mean, Ros is relatively young, and yes, she says she is New Jack and wants to bring the association squarely into the 21st Century.

But she is also quite Establishment, which is to say an NAACP Baby, which, in turn, is to say that Brock might be ill-equipped to kick the ass of Ben Jealous -- or at least push him away from the cameras, and pull forward the faithful Worker Bees who toil in the depths of the association. During my time there, I met some of the hardest-working, dedicated and Righteous folks I have ever known. There are a whole bunch of Shirley Sherrods working at the En-Double-A who are probably royally ticked off right about now. Because, you know? They believe in the mission....and they want (and deserve) Brave,Visionary Leadership that doesn't behave as if black women are expendable.

But, returning to how I got some Shirley Sherrod-style tire marks on my back thanks to Ben Jealous: Okay, when I walked into Vampira's office the Monday after Jealous' embarrassing turn on Maher and asked if Jealous had ever had intensive media training, this is what Vampira said:

"You're right, he doesn't do well on live television AT ALL, and I've suggested we get someone in here to help him with it. But he doesn't want to. So what're you gonna do?"

Hand to God, people. "What're you gonna do?" was Vampira's reply.

Also, during my FIRST WEEK ON THE JOB, Vampira told me she believed that Jealous had a certain mental health diagnosis. I won't repeat it here, as I have no way of knowing that what Vampira said is accurate. We were walking back from lunch at Georgia Brown's on 15th Street, when she let it fly. Honestly, I can't remember what precipitated that comment. But when she said it, I stopped walking and looked at her. She began to ramble on about how Jealous' mental health challenges should be considered in the larger context of blacks and mental health care; I assumed she Went There, at least in part, because I am a subject-matter expert on that topic. I didn't ask for details or saying anything except, "Oh. OH."

Over the next several weeks, as the Davis campaign heated up, and the Convention approached, I watched, fascinated, as Vampira and other Communications staffers wrangled Ben Jealous onto national news programs at CNN, PBS, ABC, MSNBC, CBS, and other outlets....where he stumbled and gesticulated his way through interviews about the association's "relevancy," and why this NAACP is not your Grand Pappy's NAACP.

Did the talking points that I wrote for Ben and gave to Vampira ever make it into Jealous' interviews? No. Listen, a key aspect of the enabling/co-dependent relationship between Jealous and Vampira was this: She isolated Jealous from the rest of the Comms team.(Of course, this indicates that he allowed himself to be isolated.) I saw Ben a grand total of three times between when I started work in the DC office and when I left in late summer. (Of course, you saw this coming, right? Vampira pushing me out of the association? T'yeah, sure did, and I still do not get why I didn't see it coming, especially after she inexplicably dropped that "Ben has [mental health diagnosis]" on me in early June....)

Things seriously escalated when I told Vampira that, with the Troy Davis campaign ended -- in July 2009, the US Supreme Court had agreed to consider hearing the case -- and following the close of the 100th Anniversary Convention -- where President Barack Obama had delivered a most excellent speech, and yes, I was glad to have been there -- I fully expected to turn my attention at long last to building the I-units throughout the association's branches and chapters.

You know, silly me -- the job I was hired to do?

But even before that, I knew she was gunning for me -- I'm one of those people who has a hard time making with the Happy Face when I'm in the midst of unethical goings-on and ego-driven, craptastic shenanigans. Later, I learned from other NAACP staff members that Vampira had never intended for me to set up any I-units.

Real Housewives of Atlanta -- NAACP-style

Moreover, with a distinctly COINTELPRO flair, since my first day on the job, Vampira had been methodically bad-mouthing me to other leaders in the NAACP, the Vice Presidents in Baltimore who were closest to Ben Jealous (and likely, she'd bad-mouthed me to Jealous too) even as she assigned me one op-ed after another -- all of which were published. (Did I mention that Vampira cannot write? Well, I should say, she cannot write or think about issues in a way that will truly move the association forward positively. That's where I came in. She was expert, however, at working Ben Jealous.)

And so here it is -- a Real Housewives of Atlanta style set-to that sped my departure from the Nation's Oldest Civil Rights organization. (That is how one of my colleagues, a smart Digital Media guru in California, characterized it when I shared this crazy-assed story with her during a phone talk later that summer: "Girl, that is some 'Real Housewives of Atlanta' bullshit," this colleague said. Which cracked me up, since at the time we were discussing this, I had just watched that program for the first time, agog at its stage-managed depictions of trifling women scrapping over trivial nonsense. Had my scrapes with Vampira looked like that to those who'd been on the scene?

Back to the denouement: On the day before I was scheduled to take the Acela to New York to work at the Convention in mid-July, Vampira phoned me- she was already in NYC -- and said, "Amy, I need you to take a look at the draft of Ben's speech he will give at the Convention -- it really needs work, and this is the sort of thing you're really good at. So please, you know, do your thing....but keep it quiet: Ben will be embarrassed if he finds out that anyone other than ME is helping him with this."

Sure enough, in short order I received Ben's Convention speech as an email attachment from Vampira....followed a couple of hours later by another email from Vampira in which she asked me to bring her business cards to NYC. (She had forgotten to bring them, and they were in her office in D.C.)

I phoned her cell immediately, following her second email asking me to bring her biz cards, to let her know that I had already left the NAACP office in D.C. and that I wouldn't be returning there before I headed up to New York. Therefore, I politely said to her outgoing vmail message, I will not have your biz cards when I arrive at the New York Hilton, but I will do my best to contact the Office Manager, and ask her to send them express.

Okay, apologies for getting into the weeds here, but this is instructive:

Two days into the convention, Vampira rolled up on me in the Press Room at the New York Hilton and actually began loud-talking me .....because I hadn't brought her business cards. Calmly, I reminded her that I had contacted the Office Manager back in DC, and that the cards were on their way. To which she replied, "After this convention, you are DONE. You won't be working for us anymore."

She said this at a near-shout, in a room filled with journalists who had come to the Hilton to cover the 100th Anniversary Convention and President Obama's speech. I told her I was in the midst of helping find press passes for the newcomers, and that I would follow up on finding her business cards as soon as I'd cleared the line of waiting media pros. But I was furious and humiliated -- I am in my mid-40s. I have written books, articles, and produced high-quality journalism for more than two decades, at some of the nation's best outlets, in Old and New Media.

Yet Vampira actually believed that I had taken a job at the NAACP to serve as her op-ed writing minion and business-card carrier. How about that?

When I left the press room at the Hilton following Vampira's freak-out, I immediately found Ben Jealous' personal assistant -- a highly-efficient young black woman, one of two association staffers who mind Jealous' schedule -- and told her that Vampira had, for all intents and purposes, loudly fired me in the middle of the press room. The young assistant sighed, and said, "Why don't you go get lunch, Amy. I will take care of this." Oh, and while I was at it, I also let this assistant know that I had, at Vampira's request, rewritten Jealous' convention speech....and that despite my having turned that assignment around in 24 hours, and returned it to Vampira via email, it had not come up.

Later that afternoon, Vampira phoned my cell and left a message: "I don't know why people are saying that I 'fired you' today in the press room, Amy. But, you know, there is so much going on here now, things are kind of chaotic, I just think everyone needs to do their best to keep things going smoothly, and that we should have a meeting to talk about duties, when we return to D.C. next week." I didn't return that call, and I avoided Vampira for the remainder of the confab.

But on the day, a couple of weeks after the convention closed, when Vampira phoned my cell as I headed home to Montgomery County from the association office on 15th Street in D.C., I had pretty much had enough.

She said, "Come in tomorrow at 9am, we need to have a meeting to talk about your work. "

"Fine," I said, "because, you know, it is time for me to turn my attention to the job I was hired to do...."

Vampira cut me off. "Actually, everyone doesn't always get to DO the same job that maybe they expected to at the time they're hired....given our resources, you should understand that you will do whatever work I feel we need, at any given time. And I AM [your supervisor] here."

Yes, an Al Haig moment. And it pushed me right over the top. "Look, I've been doing ALL of the writing since I came here. I know it, you know it, and everyone else in Comms knows it. Now, I agreed to it initially, because of the Davis campaign and the Convention. But those things are DONE now, and I need to get these reporting units set up....."

The President and CEO Regrets

Well, you can write the rest of this part of the story. Now, of course, at any point during my dealings with Vampira, I could easily have contacted Ben Jealous, in confidence, and shared my concerns about her erratic behavior.

But I did not. I lacked confidence that Jealous would have my back.

So did I have any direct dealings with Ben Jealous after Vampira pushed me out?

He emailed me later in August 2009, after I'd left the association, and said, in essence, Gee Amy, I sure am sorry that things didn't work out. It will be helpful to hear what your experience was like, if you care to share. I'm traveling for the next couple of weeks, but after I return, maybe we can sit down together...

I waited a few days after reading THAT passive-aggressive claptrap, and then wrote back saying, Sure, I'm happy to sit down with you. In the meantime, I will be needing another job really soon, since, you know, I am a divorced mother of two elementary school-aged children. So I will really could use a good reference from you.

And you know what?

I bet you DO know what. Ben Jealous didn't reply to that email.

The Investigative Units were not developed, though the main website did receive a makeover, with a spiffy Ben Jealous blog, and YouTube video snippets from Ben's speeches, and photos of Ben at various events, and links to "Ben's" op-eds......But no real-time content from NAACP "reporters" on the ground.

Fade out. The End.

Except it wasn't, was it?

55 comments:

  1. What happened to you was unexceptable. The NAACP and it's staff ( vampire.lol) should be held accountable.

    My main concern is why air this here? Many organizations political or religious or whatever, are just as dysfunctional. The leaders are in a battle of egos in any place where people are in close contact and there is a pecking order. Say we discovered he was having a number of affairs with NAACP staff, it wouldn't be just cause to have it in a public forum due to the nature of muckraking vitriolic politics. The lesser of evils, the NAACP or TParty Stormfront vitriol and death threats? No contest. I'd probably take this up legally for some compensation and attempt to improve the organization from within.

    I worry about it here due to how fringe groups could take this to a place that actually affects the survival of many.

    Jealous is one of many, and I do believe now he needs to resign, the NAACP needs a complete rehaul. Unfotunately, that should extend itself to every political body where power is abused or mishandled.

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  2. An absolutely fantabulous expose' Amy! I knew it was a mess, but not a HOT MESS! Lordy!

    Yvette C.

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  3. Epic. The whole thing was just epic.

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  4. I love that you open with a high minded Princeton quote on "the villification of black women for sport and political gain" before, uh, villifying the "truly Vampiric black woman in her late fifties," who fired you.

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  5. TK.

    Ditto that. I found it odd too. Great insight, not sure what the point was or for whom, because it appears leadership in the NAACP weren't aware of your plight.

    If you're comparing your experience to Ms Sherrod, why note on the "non savvy Ben Jealous". (sort of your words, Ms Alexander?). While your at the health problem???? Might as well throw in his weight problem, and stuttering,
    . . . Don't get it?

    Interesting, Ms Sherrod 's already forgiven and moved on. Whatta concept.

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  6. Part I

    Dear Amy,

    Thank you for this delightfully expressed, but very disturbing account of your experiences at the NAACP. I applaud your courage, bravery and commitment to the black community in being open and honest enough to share this experience with the world. We have a tendency in our community, from my perspective, to further victimize a victim, by telling her she should keep her mouth shut. It is wrong. The only way we will begin to resolve some of our deepest issues is by exposing them to Light and acknowledging their existence. Whether people believe your account of events or not, when enough of us are able to tell the truth of our lives, we will see the commonalities and hopefully use that knowledge to create the relationships - professional and personal - that will promote our ability to save ourselves and even make real progress.

    Your story resonates with truth for me. In these last few years, I have had very similar experiences with black organizations, with lower profiles than the NAACP. I am 50 years old, and gratefully, my one child is an independent adult, whom I have not had to worry so much about as my life has essentially come apart. Like you, for most of my adult life, I have held positions of significant responsibility, produced high quality work, and can point to a number of noteworthy accomplishments. None of this really adds up to a hill of beans in our current economy, and I have taken several positions far below my capacity, in an effort to survive. Two of those positions were with black organizations (a seminary and a charter school), where I was treated much as you were, and observed the exact same dynamics you reported on here. Like you, I am no longer in those positions, and I am still trying to figure out how to survive in a world where family and friends do not understand the changing dynamics in our economy, the extra demands this puts on them to support each other through these changes, and how we will be eliminated as a culture if we do not recall the values of unity that have brought us thus far.

    It is important that we come to see the mental health issues and dysfunctions playing out at the NAACP for at least two reasons that are readily apparent to me:

    For one, we laud this organization as one of our premier institutions to lead us through the treacherous waters in which we are drowning. Given their lengthy history, by now one might expect they would function as a model of organizational health, and be in a position to nurture and transmit such skills to other organizations. If they are mired in dysfunction, they cannot serve as a model, much less provide the leadership we need on the very real dangers our community is facing. They are, however, showing up as a case study in what is wrong with our organizations and why we are not seeing the kind of progress we might be seeing if we were developing our organizations in healthy ways.

    Secondly, we need to understand the dysfunctions in our organizations because sadly, I think what you experienced is commonplace. When we don’t grasp the emotional brutality we are inflicting on each other inside our organizations, then our tendency is to blame the victim – to blame the one person with the courage to stand up and say “this is wrong.” If we tolerate abuse in any form, we teach the abusers that their behavior will be tolerated – and we set ourselves back to a mindset of slavery.

    Of course, I have also taken several jobs in these last few years at predominately white organizations. They have a different set of dysfunctions going on that are equally intolerable, but perhaps less painful to experience because they are not our own.

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  7. Amy,

    Amazing how in one, "prickly" blog post, you've seemingly confirmed my instincts in respect to Jealous.

    As the result of a long term relationship with a Washington-DNC insider, there's "something" in Jealous' posturing that rings familiar -- and not in a good way.

    His presence in the NAACP feels more status seeking in motive and frankly, after watching his recent debate against the Tea Party's David Webb on Face The Nation, I was left scratching my head.

    In a word Jealous was "clumsy", and appeared unable to articulate his argument clearly, while Webb was very media savvy, prepared and decisive.

    Your inside view is uncomfortable to read but provides information we, the community, should know.

    Until we hold ourselves to task and clean-up our own "house", we'll remain incapable of addressing the injustices still being committed against us.

    This took moxie girl! Thanks for being willing to share your experience with us openly and honestly.

    Luckie
    FreedomTweet.net

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  8. Had me at "Brock might be ill-equipped to kick the ass of Ben Jealous -- or at least push him away from the cameras." Case in point was the 101st convention using social media which was great but then the focus on the tea party is where it failed. So obvious was the attempt to gather media attention rather than engage and mobilize black America around other important issues such as education. Jealous made it into the media a la driving the bus over Sherrod, but where is he now?

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  9. Wow.

    I find it strange someone who is preoccupied with media coverage would resist any attempts to help him be more media savvy.

    It really saddens me that this kind of pettiness is rampant in our organizations.

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  10. Airing our dirty laundry doesn't necessarily get anything clean. It just allows others to see how we keep our house. I don't think you were thrown under the bus. U were more like a jaywalker that crossed the street in front of the bus. This is DC...it's not for people whose feelings easily get hurt. If you didn't realize the position you were in...to actively effect change in the organization...then it's best you find a job somewhere else.

    You WERE the voice of this Civil Rights organization. You could have been the most indispensable part of any change since your words would have resonated around the globe. Instead you used your skills to air a disagreement you had with your female boss.

    You sound like the hater in this piece.

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  11. I think Amy's experience is genuine, and her reputation as a journalist is credible. However, this is not the way to go, in a political environment that feeds off any fodder, no matter how sincere.

    I already recognized a few of the reactions to your piece coming from tparty bloggers. To them I ask, Do you honestly think with Breitbart and Co the Tparty and republican factions aren't dysfunctional? Common now ( Stormfront, david duke, breitbart, coulter, beck....yikes!!!! It makes the NAACP look saintly)



    And I beg to differ with the other black Conservative (deny it if you want to but I know who you are, you give youraelf away too easily)' . . .proclaiming
    Webb over Benjamin in a debate with TParty politics. Webb actually
    contradicted himself looking a little silly in the first chat with Ben, stating and stumbling over his words - that there were first no racist elements or signs that he witnessed at events. Then stating that when he, Webb, saw racist signs at events he called them out. At that point, of the two, he looked like an idiot.
    Infact, for Jealous'snstuttering, which wasn't that noticeable, he was a lot more coherent and fact based than Webb. The results of both his speech and debates led to Williams resignation and a public media denunciation of wing
    nuts in the TParty.

    I make no apologies for this NAACP president around the Sherrod debacle, but I will recognize what potential constructive changes they are making in addition to requesting they clean house and improve.

    I think Shirley Sherrod is our best model in that she is more than aware of the dysfunctions within the NAACP, USDA, and US government, but chose to stay and fight the good fight, forgiving and moving on. The real culprits she is
    of course thinking about defamation suits - Breitbart and Fox News.

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  12. Ok Let me get thsi straight...you are like Shirley Sherrod, a woman who was a leader in SNCC, was on the front lines of civil rights struggles and helped hundreds of poor farmers save their farms (oh that's right you wrote a few opeds) and because you were fired you are a vicitm of something you describe as Cointelpro - the program by FBI head J Edgar Hoover that resulted in the death, imprisonment, exile of hundreds of black men and women who were fighting for revolutionary change. And perhaps worse then your inflated sense of self importance is the fact that you raised questions about the improtance of a fight to save a man's life on death row. Whose side are you on? Perhaps Vampira was right to let you go

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  13. While I believe Amy's story, I find her descriptions of the inner working of the NAACP similar to many other organizations and gov't. Her description of her supervisor who she nicknamed Vampira is clever but unhelpful in building a new future. More importantly, if "Vampira" is all that Amy says she is, why did Amy accept and believe everything "V" had to say about Jealous? I refuse to allow one sick or unstable person to guide my thinking about another person. In his sermon "Loving Your Enemies" Dr. King said the way to start that process is to first examine oneself. The intent is not to exonerate "V" or Jealous but to see how your own pre-set attitudes may have contributed to the quick failure of your tenure there.

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  14. You're terminated months ago for poor performance and your inability to get along with others but you wait until the Sherrod incident to tell your story.
    I guess you saw an opportunity to use Sherrod to plead your HR complaint. If you had a valid case you might have tried filing an EEOC complaint or hiring a lawyer.
    Oh I forgot, you actually have to have a case to do that. It's much easier to post slanderous statements about your boss,make fun of a person's disability and reveal private conversations that were had in trust, all to support a delusional idea that somehow you are the victim. That somehow your name should be linked to the Shirley Sherrods of the world in any way shape or form.

    Furthermore to mention Cointelpro in the same sentence with your HR complaint is more than delusional...it's pathetic and self serving.

    However, your statements regarding Troy Davis are the most egregious and a clear indication that not only were you ill suited to work in this position but you do not understand civil rights and the fight for social justice.
    "Is Troy Davis truly innocent? You got me. And, as I sat in on phone calls with Vampira, the association's legal partners, and activists in Georgia, it eventually became clear to me that the NAACP couldn't be entirely positive, either, that Davis was innocent."
    Think about that. On a conference call with death penalty activists ,lawyers and her own organization, fighting to save a Black man's life. Laying it all on the line. Amy is fixated on the most important question(is he really innocent???). In the strange world of Amy these questions supercede decades of injustice where the prisons are full of innocent Black men.
    Amy,here's a news flash. People like the ones on that conference call have been fighting for decades for people of color to have a FAIR trial. Nobody at the NAACP was at the scene when the crime was committed. They are fighting to get Troy his day in court in front of a jury of his peers. Your question of his innocence wreaks of ignorance and makes one wonder how superficial your understanding of other issues must have been.Maybe that's why none of your "talking points" ever made it into speechs.
    Using Troy Davis(just as you're trying to use Sherrod) is obscene, self serving and indicative of an individual who was ill suited to prosper in a position that required some rudimentry political understanding of social justice issues.
    Juxtapose this reality with the delusional Amy in referring to her boss:
    "Well, I should say, she cannot write or think about issues in a way that will truly move the association forward positively. That's where I came in."
    I could lift this quote and drop it in a Groucho Marx movie where it could actually make sense.

    But I guess your post is useful in a couple of ways. First, it's not often we get important information from inside an organization i.e. high heels,tight tops,speech impediments,name calling,business card disputes,shouting matches,people making six figure salaries(god forbid that someone could make such money in a Black organization) etc..
    Secondly,this post will act as a warning to any prospective employer that would be foolish enough to hire you after reading your self serving dribblings.

    If there any tire tracks on your back the NAACP did not put them there.You drove this hooptie. You had an opportunity to make an impact. You chose to immerse yourself in petty squabbles that led to your termination.


    Stop being the victim. Move on with your life and in the future try not to attach yourself to people who fight for social justice. It's not always pretty and it's not about you. It's about people like Troy Davis(we'll let you know when we actually find out whether he's innocent or not).

    ReplyDelete
  15. To the Anonymous Commenters here (pro, con, and in between): Just so you know, when you decline to include your name, or even an Internet handle, it creates doubt in readers' minds about your credibility.

    In total, though, I appreciate anyone taking time to chime in here.

    Finally -- my Pro record speaks for itself. Anyone with Internet access and half a brain should be able to determine from the books I've written and edited that I take the issue of social justice quite seriously -- AND that I have been a leader in writing and exploring our history, and initiating discussions focused finding solutions for a very long time. (And, if you are older than a minute, you may also turn to a database called LEXIS NEXIS. If you access it, you can search my name THERE, and perhaps see that even in my earliest days as a newspaper reporter, I rolled like I do now -- with clarity of purpose, integrity and an eye, always, to our history.) In other words, I am not a newcomer to the combustible mix of cultural politics, media, and the "black leadership" proposition. I laugh at anyone who says, "Amy stop being the victim, move on, etc." It seriously tickles me to hear that. Because if I were a "victim" and unable to "move on" I would NOT have written about my experience at the En Double A, nor would I be standing quite well on my own two feet, working FT, caring for my children, and busily conducting my life with dignity and purpose.

    Same time, I do understand that it hurts to realize that our "black leaders" are not only fallible in the way of all humans, but also, that some of the are SOMETIMES, quite selfish, mean-spirited, and possessed of egos that blind them to their greatest responsibility: Charting a safe path for the most vulnerable among us. It is tough but not impossible to do it with integrity, honesty, and compassion. Yet I see too many "leaders" who mostly care about being on TV, hobnobbing with Corporate big shots, and lining their own pockets. That is the TRUTH, and if it doesn't sit well with you, I suggest you consider joining in to change the landscape, rather than sitting on the sidelines, writing uniformed comments on the blogs of those who actually have the experience, insight, and courage to get things done.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Not only do I agree with most of the sentiments in this post, but I was THERE as a spectator for most of it to confirm it. I feel the last 2 years have been a learning experience for an organization with a leader who has been learning. Having the best of intentions isn't always sufficient. Sometimes an organization and a leader with soo much passion, and soo much vision has to appease powers that be, in lieu of their own goals. the NAACP has suffered recently from diminishing membership (and subsequently membership dues) because most people who benefit from them don't actually support them. As a result, the lack of money forces specific priorities to be prioritized. And then priorities shift based on where the political support and potential for new money seems to appear. Imagine running for office, governing, and having to raise money...without the rule of law.

    Does that excuse Mr. Jealous' actions. No not really. And even in my personal dealings with him, I feel that his well meaning, grandiose, sometimes disconnected from reality...comes from being in a position of incredible power with absolutely no handbook. Plus the institution chews up good people and spits them out, after The Honorable and Late Mr. Hooks, the organization has kind of had a "what will you do for us today?..... ok..NEXT!" approach to its leadership.

    AMY... you've done a phenomenal job of capturing the frustrations of coming into this organization. But hey if any of you want this story to be different for any other employee they bring on. Or if you're offended or disheartened by THIS much truth.... why don't you join the NAACP and get your friends to do the same. Maybe with the resources that a collective nation spends on bad movies and Prada bags can hopefully put those same resources into making a national treasure of an organization succeed in the years to come.

    just a thought

    ReplyDelete
  17. Interesting that you're only concerned with anonymous postings when they are critical.There was valid criticsm of your comments regarding Troy Davis. How do you answer that? Is it necessary that Amy is presented with all the evidence in a death penalty case before its deemed "credible".Should the NAACP,the death penalty activists and the lawyers have given you more information. Why did you mention this?

    ReplyDelete
  18. Dear "tdinsight,"

    Duh. Where did I indicate that I'm only "concerned with anonymous posts when they are critical?"

    Pls read my above comment again, CAREFULLY: It begins, "To the Anonymous Commenters here (pro, con, and in between): Just so you know, ..."

    Sigh.

    Honestly, I do worry that close reading and the ability to recognize nuanced and sophisticated thinking are becoming lost arts....

    ReplyDelete
  19. It is truly a sad day when so-called educated Black people engage in back-biting, name-calling, slanderous discussions as a way to solve our problems. Amy this was not the venue to address the problems that you encountered in the NAACP or the issues within the organization. You waited a whole year to proclaim your victimization like a jilted jealous woman waiting around for an opportunity to get your revenge. Ben stumbled and you pounced!!!!! Ms Sharrod is a dignified Black woman of great integrity, you on the other hand chose a childish and totally ineffective and destructive way to supposedly right a wrong. The Blog you wrote is certainly an example of The dumbing down of a people. Ben made a grave error to be sure but slandering him and villifying the organization is certainly not the answer. What is becoming a lost art is common sense and intelligence.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Ditto Elizabeth Heims.

    However sincere and honest you're post, the timing couldn't be worse. I've nothing against what you've written, and value what you shared.

    But this post could potentially affect many a decent person if in the wrong hands. It's obvious we're in midterm elections with extremist and an awful economy.

    Ms Sherrod, and those of us who really thrown under buses 50 odd years ago understand this. There is a larger picture at hand, and revealing the dysfunctional exploitive workings of one overstuffed big bird of a
    president or his faithful entourage is counterproductive and self centered at best.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Like I said, this is a prime example of the dumbing down of a people. After 50 odd years of being thrown under buses is this how we solve our problems??? Having our energies dissipated and weakened because we can't figure out how to address issues in an intelligent and meaningful way. You are right we're in midterm elections the enemies of our people must be delighted with Amy's blog. It was truly unfortunate, not delightful, not courageous but needlessly hurtful and foolish depicting someone who seems not to have much understanding of what we as a people are facing. Hopefully, no other bloggers will be suckered into playing into the hands of those who love to see us defile each other. This is another form of Black-on-Black genocide. The debilitating game of Divide and conquer. We don't need racists to destroy and hate us we do it to ourselves.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Dear Elizabeth, and Elenita Heims,

    Thanks for sharing your opinions here -- I appreciate them, as well as your willingness to use your names (assuming they are indeed your names. Oh, and are you two sisters? Just wondering, since you share the same surname.....)

    Best Regards,
    Amy A.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Gee Amy, did you understand an iota of sense from Elizabeth or Elenita Heims , and the last Anon?????

    Basic message : this isn't good for anyone, your method of resolving this problem within the NAACP.

    Your intentions might be well and good, but your timing isn't. You, to a large degree appear as self indulgent as Benjamin, needing an audience for journalistic self centered theatrics. Are you honestly helping by putting this out here, other than painting "damning portrait" of yourself? Truth is Ben and the NAACP, with all their hyperbole, and mistakes around Sherrod, outed TParty elements, and are fighting the justice for the greater whole - People, ..... Not just themselves.


    Grow up.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Elenita and ElizabethJuly 28, 2010 at 6:10 AM

    Unbelievable!!!! We see that unfortunately Amy you are bent on attacking people not issues. Enough said!!! This has already received too much attention. We simply thought that perhaps you had a more rational side and could hear reason and not just be caught up in a gutter-fighting-emotional mode. It is so hurtful and embarrassing seeing the intellectuals of our race unable to rise above this destructive in-fighting that delights our enemies,weakens our cause and our credibility. The plight of our people deserves and desperately needs so much more!!!!!!! What a day it will be when we as Black People can work out our problems in unity and strength, with dignity and not in a circus-like-Amos and Andy style!!!! Selah

    ReplyDelete
  25. This article was petty, snide and full of innuendo, conjecture and speculation while woefully lacking any supportive facts. I noted that Alexander basically had no interaction with Ben following being hired. Further, all that she claimed to 'know' about Jealous was nothing more than gossip...second hand gossip.

    Jealous may like the limelight, may have an out sized ego...but there is nothing evidentiary that even approaches being factual that Alexander provided in her rant.

    Alexander sounds pissed at Vampira, but has targeted Ben...cause no one knows Vampira...so she shoots at Ben...with an article timed to dove-tail with his other problems with the press right now.

    Amy is wounded and striking out like the hurt animal she possibly is. However, it is despicable on her part to imply that Jealous has mental health issues, that was exceedingly dishonest and damning in terms of HER character.

    Gossip, he said/she said...gossipmongering...so flimsy she dared not repeat what was said..just create ballyhoo about the possibilities hoping others will fill in the blanks, that she can readily deny. After all, she did not say them just implied, inferred and suggested such.

    Alexander should be ashamed of herself...I knew when she labelled the father of her children a sociopath, that she has issues which have nothing whatsoever to do with Jealous or the NAACP and everything to do with her personal emotional turmoil, seeming hatred of all things male and her denial of ownership for the poor choices she has made.

    Amy Alexander for the most part has poor judgment and that is her core issue which results in her repeating the same mistakes over and over while blaming others. Lack of judgment results in poor decision making and poor choices for her life and career.

    Focus on gaining better judgment Amy, and you will be far better off and so will your children.


    whiterosebuddy

    ReplyDelete
  26. "Because if I were a "victim" and unable to "move on" I would NOT have written about my experience at the En Double A, nor would I be standing quite well on my own two feet, working FT, caring for my children, and busily conducting my life with dignity and purpose. "

    The title of your post is:

    "And Don't Call Me Shirley....Though I Do Sport a Nice Set of NAACP-Ben Jealous Tire Marks on My Back

    Surely you don't think that Mrs. Shirley Sherrod is the first black woman to be thrown under the Escalade by NAACP President and CEO Ben Todd Jealous?"

    You claim to be "run over" by the leadership in the NAACP but your not playing the victim??

    You link yourself to Shirley Sherrod,who has a lifetime of service actually helping people. You should be ashamed of yourself. Your name shouldn't be said in the same universe as Shirley Sherrod. But you could learn something from her. The NAACP made a terrible mistake in how they handled this whole matter. Ms. Sherrod's career has definetly taken a hit. But look how she responded. She responded with grace,dignity and forgiveness.
    After being terminated from your job within 90 days after you were hired you waited almost a year for an opportunity to retaliate for your termination by actually equating the Sherrod incident with your justafiable firing. You responded with a vile reprehensible post attacking people's disabilities,age,clothing attire etc. You inflated your low level role, casting yourself as "the voice " of the NAACP.You didn't even have access to Ben Jealous.
    Your statements concerning the Troy Davis case showed an unbelievable misunderstanding of the case and it's possible now that your ignorant comments are now being used against him. Good job Amy.

    Your publicity hound act will get you your 15 minutes. When its all said and done you will be like the pupil in the eye. The more light that's shined on it....the smaller it gets.

    ReplyDelete
  27. To the NAACPers who are posting here: Nice try.

    As I said, I could have reached out to Ben but I didn't because, based on what I observed, it wouldn't have mattered: At that time, BTJ seemed utterly absorbed with getting himself into the National Press.

    As to any mental health issues that BTJ may or may not have? You know what? Take that up with Vampira: She is the one who came out the blue with that comment. I was shocked and appalled and did not engage her any further on that front.

    Seriously, this is tiresome. The NAACP has a LEADERSHIP crisis. Read the post again carefully, if you can manage it: I make it clear that the rank and file -- aka the Worker Bees -- that I encountered there are salt of the earth.

    If there are any "victims" at all in this, it is they. And of course, Mrs. Sherrod. Do I "compare" myself to Mrs. Sherrod -- absolutely, in a metaphoric sense. Or is that too nuanced for you all to get?

    Finally, if you want to successfully "Astro turf" on someone else's Website, it is generally a good idea to use language that doesn't give away your true affiliation. And of course, an even better policy is to have the doggone courage to simply include your name and/or affiliation along with your Comment.

    As is, you have Zero credibility. But as I said above, Thanks for sharing! :)

    ReplyDelete
  28. Amy,

    You are to be commended for speaking up. It’s not about airing dirty laundry. Instead, it’s about accountability.

    The VP of Communications, aka “Vampira,” attempted to discredit me when I wrote about the NAACP’s hook-up with predatory lender Wells Fargo. Fortunately, no one outside of the NAACP believed her smear.

    Three months ago, we were told to stay tuned. The NAACP would reveal the benefits of the Wells Fargo partnership to the African American community at the convention. If they did (I wasn’t there), it got lost in the media frenzy over the Tea Party resolution and Ben Jealous’ complicity in throwing Ms. Sherrod under the bus.

    The NAACP may need to have a talk with its new BFF. Just today, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission has accused Wells Fargo of engaging in predatory lending practices in black neighborhoods in Philadelphia.

    As one commenter noted, the NAACP’s “lack of money forces specific priorities to be prioritized. And then priorities shift based on where the political support and potential for new money seems to appear.”

    The NAACP saw the potential for new money with Wells Fargo. So it dropped its lawsuit and threw the black community under the bus.

    Thanks for keeping it real.

    ReplyDelete
  29. whiterosebuddy sounds like he/she could be VAMPIRA! Too formal a response. Has "FLACK" written all over it.

    and @ Elenita and Elizabeth:

    Why are we (people of color) always upset at the person who PROCESSES the laundry, rather than the person who DIRTIES it?!? Displaces responsibility and insults the intelligence of folks -- especially WE journalists -- who commonly know that 1) Ben Jealous has serious speech issues, which makes it very much an issue when being considered for airtime, and 2) that the NAACP has a laundry list of infrastructural issues that have LONG gone unaddressed for the sake of trying to maintain some faux concept of a flawless image.

    NAACP: Deal with your issues, and get it together!

    Amy: Good post (and great writing). Unfortunately, many journalists of color KNOW -- not only suspect -- that you are telling the truth. My only advice: please don't let yourself become bitter!

    -ajournalistwithanamethatyoudknow

    ReplyDelete
  30. When anonymous posts praised Amy they were fine. When they started to criticize her they were not credible. When people with the same last names criticized Amy she had to know if they were related.In fact, Amy has cracked the code and stated: "So To the NAACPers who are posting here: Nice try."
    So anyone who diagrees with Amy has to be an NAACP member.In the future anyone who wants to comment will have to undergo blood,paternity and lie detector tests . I've never seen so much energy put in to identifying the writers who are expressing their opinions and not the content. If I'm not mistaken this is just the kind of behavior that in part got Amy fired in the first place. This is the internet ,not a court of law.If you don't want to deal with the content don't respond to it .
    In addition to policing the internet and ensuring that everyone is identified and properly questioned,Commissioner Amy has laid down a challenge for us all:
    " I suggest you consider joining in to change the landscape, rather than sitting on the sidelines, writing uniformed comments on the blogs of those who actually have the experience, insight, and courage to get things done. "
    You see, everyone who disgrees with Amy is uniformed. But I don't really see where getting yourself fired,slandering individuals,making fun of someone's disbility and mucking up a death penalty case because you don't understand simple legal principles is "getting things done". Quite frankly Amy you're starting to remind me of the Decaprio character in "SHUTTER ISLAND".
    Amy has been asked several times to explain her Troy Davis comments. Take off your commissioner hat Amy and explain this:

    "Is Troy Davis truly innocent? You got me. And, as I sat in on phone calls with Vampira, the association's legal partners, and activists in Georgia, it eventually became clear to me that the NAACP couldn't be entirely positive, either, that Davis was innocent.

    But that is the thing about the New Generation NAACP as I witnessed it last summer under Ben Jealous' leadership: Details are for Old Schoolers! Gray-beards who just don't get it! Deep thinking, homework, rigorous study and research takes time, is unglamorous, and usually is not captured by cable and network news cameras."
    Amy makes it very clear. The case was somewhat"ambiguious".The NAACP had not done the tough work to declare Troy Davis innocent or guilty.They had to be POSITIVE. Amy was ready to dig into those legal briefs, weigh the evidence and review the witness statements.She could visit the crime scene and reinterview witnesses. Only after all this "hard work" was done could Amy proclaim a verdict. After all, before we take on a case where it's clear that a Black man didn't get a fair trial Amy would have to be convinced.Otherwise she'll make light of this brother fighting for his life on death row and post her flippant comments on her blog.
    She must have sat in horror on those conference calls thinking there was a chance that Troy could really be guilty.
    Ask yourself,Does this sound like a person who understands death penalty issues. Does this sound like a person who you would want on your defense team?? Doe this sound like a person who should have been in this position.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Amy

    With such a valid argument about NAACP leadership needing an overhaul, why bring up Ben's mental health issue? What bearing does it have other than to counter your own credibility

    I think some of us agree with you, we're just baffled that you'd put personal material that has little weight supporting your statement. And it does matter how you present material, you being a seasoned journalist, for it affects not only yourself.

    It's one thing to air dirty laundry, it's how you do it, not "why"


    Sometimes the message gets lost in the method.

    Just a suggestion

    ReplyDelete
  32. Oh, for Pete's sake.

    This is the last I will say in this space:

    If you are upset about the mental health/BTJ insinuation, you need to ask Vampira WHY she dropped that info on me following our lunch that day at Georgia Brown's.

    I reported it in my Column because I think it is important to demonstrate the utterly unethical behavior that I experienced and observed from Vampira. Truth be told? She said many, many other things to me and to other staffers -- and not just about BTJ but about POTUS, as well -- that were even WORSE. But unlike here, I have a pretty well-tuned moral compass, plus a healthy sense of decorum....

    As for the Troy Davis case -- again, ask Vampira why she INSISTED that the phrase "...likely innocent" be used in every op-ed and Press Release that she assigned me to write about Troy. I sat in on not one but two phone conferences in which this was emphasized.

    I did NOT say that I don't think Troy is innocent -- I simply pointed out that Vampira and the others who "shaped" the messaging strategy (such as it was) around that campaign WERE NOT SURE OF ALL THE DETAILS of his case, either. And, Lordy, Lordy, by no stretch of the imagination is Vampira an Editor, or even a credible reporter. (Great reporters and editors know how to LISTEN, not just ramble on endlessly spinning. At that, Vampira is a Champ.)

    Like I said, the greater emphasis was on the Show Biz aspect of "promoting" the cause. Finally -- it is really amusing that none of these NAACPers (or sympathizers) who are attacking me here mention the fact that Vampira palmed off Ben's convention speech on me. And that she is so incompetent (or is it lazy?) that she didn't INSIST that he get the intensive speech therapy and media training that he really needs. (Oh, and this endless carping that I am "making fun" of his speech impediment. Oh, please. That is a red herring argument, and it doesn't wash -- why not ask Vampira why she didn't feel it important enough to make sure her Meal Ticket got that kind of help? Likely because it is easier to shoot the messenger, yes?)

    So, say Goodnight Gracie. I'll not respond here again, but nor will I shut down this space. You know, because I believe in the First Amendment and all that.

    Feel free to continue to vent and spin at your leisure -- it won't change the very sad fact that the NAACP requires new leadership at this time....and that if BTJ and Vampira were truly interested in finding out what goes on with constituents ON THE GROUND, they would have set up the I-units....the very system that might have saved BTJ from not knowing that Shirley Sherrod was the last person who needed "denouncing."

    Thanks for sharing! :)

    ReplyDelete
  33. Hi everyone,

    My name is Marianne Milton. (That's my real name. If you want to talk to me beyond this column, please find me on Facebook, where you will need to use your real name.)

    I'm White, and raising an African-American daughter and about to adopt another.

    I came to know Amy Alexander through her writing on Facebook. She's a stunningly intelligent woman whose writing is incisive, humorous, challenging, and so full of historical and political information that I often have to look up names, places, references to understand all that she's discussing. I'm no light-weight in the knowledge department, but she's in a different league entirely.

    I love reading her writing and hope she'll write her autobiography one day, about her work in journalism, media, and politics. I imagine it will be as engaging and insightful as "All Over But the Shoutin'," by Rick Bragg---another supremely intelligent and hard-working journalist more devoted to honesty and transparency than institutional loyalty and, in the end, forced out for not toeing the line, not understanding the unwritten rules that for an outsider to stay an insider he/she has to shut up about all the immoral, incompetent, corrupt, self-destructive stuff inside the institution.

    Amy here has told her experience of working inside the NAACP, and how dysfunctional she found it. The NAACP is an important institution in the public realm, and its leaders and inner workings are fair game for analysis, critique, and exposure. Amy was working for the organization and has an important story to tell about her time there, and some of the important players in the organization.

    I don't understanding the drubbing she's taken here, really, except in the context of bullying, cult-like behavior by adherents who are struggling to discredit one who has left the fold and exposed the wrong-doings of the cult and its leaders. I'm not saying that the NAACP *IS* a cult: I'm saying that those of you, en masse, who have targeted Amy here with ad hominem attacks are acting cult-like.

    It's hard for me to ferret out the real arguments with Amy's story here, because they're buried in so much vitriole against her personally.

    Let's see, she's been called, here, a jaywalker, a hater, someone with an inflated sense of self-importance, one who demonstrated poor performance and inability to get along with others in her job, a slanderer, a ridiculing and confidence-revealing disloyal employee, delusional, pathetic, self-serving, ill suited to work in this position, one who did not understand civil rights and the fight for social justice, ignorant, obscene, superficial, writer of "dribblings," engaging in petty squabbles, a victim like a jilted jealous woman waiting around for an opportunity to get your revenge, etc., etc., etc.

    This "discussion" on Amy's blog is a good demonstration of how the internet can be used to bully someone behind the mask of anonymity.

    At least use your real names if you're going to launch an offensive against a writer viciously, in large numbers, in a coordinated attack. Don't be cowards. Don't hide behind the sacredness of the organization that you're supposedly protecting by shooting (or, rather, worse, torturing) the messenger of its failings.

    Really, Facebook is so much better in many ways than these Comments sections on blogs. You have to be you, and show yourself. So, that's what I'm asking all you anonymous critics: Show yourself here, and take responsibility for your opinions and criticisms, just like *REAL* writers, *REAL* political players must do.

    Respectfully and critically,
    Marianne Milton

    ReplyDelete
  34. Hi everyone,

    My name is Marianne Milton. (That's my real name. If you want to talk to me beyond this column, please find me on Facebook, where you will need to use your real name.)

    I'm White, and raising an African-American daughter and about to adopt another.

    I came to know Amy Alexander through her writing on Facebook. She's a stunningly intelligent woman whose writing is incisive, humorous, challenging, and so full of historical and political information that I often have to look up names, places, references to understand all that she's discussing. I'm no light-weight in the knowledge department, but she's in a different league entirely.

    I love reading her writing and hope she'll write her autobiography one day, about her work in journalism, media, and politics. I imagine it will be as engaging and insightful as "All Over But the Shoutin'," by Rick Bragg---another supremely intelligent and hard-working journalist more devoted to honesty and transparency than institutional loyalty and, in the end, forced out for not toeing the line, not understanding the unwritten rules that for an outsider to stay an insider he/she has to shut up about all the immoral, incompetent, corrupt, self-destructive stuff inside the institution.

    Amy here has told her experience of working inside the NAACP, and how dysfunctional she found it. The NAACP is an important institution in the public realm, and its leaders and inner workings are fair game for analysis, critique, and exposure. Amy was working for the organization and has an important story to tell about her time there, and some of the important players in the organization.

    I don't understanding the drubbing she's taken here, really, except in the context of bullying, cult-like behavior by adherents who are struggling to discredit one who has left the fold and exposed the wrong-doings of the cult and its leaders. I'm not saying that the NAACP *IS* a cult: I'm saying that those of you, en masse, who have targeted Amy here with ad hominem attacks are acting cult-like.

    It's hard for me to ferret out the real arguments with Amy's story here, because they're buried in so much vitriole against her personally.

    Let's see, she's been called, here, a jaywalker, a hater, someone with an inflated sense of self-importance, one who demonstrated poor performance and inability to get along with others in her job, a slanderer, a ridiculing and confidence-revealing disloyal employee, delusional, pathetic, self-serving, ill suited to work in this position, one who did not understand civil rights and the fight for social justice, ignorant, obscene, superficial, writer of "dribblings," engaging in petty squabbles, a victim like a jilted jealous woman waiting around for an opportunity to get your revenge, etc., etc., etc.

    This "discussion" on Amy's blog is a good demonstration of how the internet can be used to bully someone behind the mask of anonymity.

    At least use your real names if you're going to launch an offensive against a writer viciously, in large numbers, in a coordinated attack. Don't be cowards. Don't hide behind the sacredness of the organization that you're supposedly protecting by shooting (or, rather, worse, torturing) the messenger of its failings.

    Really, Facebook is so much better in many ways than these Comments sections on blogs. You have to be you, and show yourself. So, that's what I'm asking all you anonymous critics: Show yourself here, and take responsibility for your opinions and criticisms, just like *REAL* writers, *REAL* political players must do.

    Respectfully and critically,
    Marianne Milton

    ReplyDelete
  35. Hi everyone,

    Hi everyone. My name is Marianne Milton, and I've come to know Amy Alexander's writing recently, and I admire her greatly.

    Amy here has told her experience of working inside the NAACP, and how dysfunctional she found it. The NAACP is an important institution in the public realm, and its leaders and inner workings are fair game for analysis, critique, and exposure. Amy was working for the organization and has an important story to tell about her time there, and some of the important players in the organization.

    I don't understanding the drubbing she's taken here, really, except in the context of bullying, cult-like behavior by adherents who are struggling to discredit one who has left the fold and exposed the wrong-doings of the cult and its leaders. I'm not saying that the NAACP *IS* a cult: I'm saying that those of you, en masse, who have targeted Amy here with ad hominem attacks are acting cult-like.

    It's hard for me to ferret out the real arguments with Amy's story here, because they're buried in so much vitriole against her personally.

    Let's see, she's been called, here, a jaywalker, a hater, someone with an inflated sense of self-importance, one who demonstrated poor performance and inability to get along with others in her job, a slanderer, a ridiculing and confidence-revealing disloyal employee, delusional, pathetic, self-serving, ill suited to work in this position, one who did not understand civil rights and the fight for social justice, ignorant, obscene, superficial, writer of "dribblings," engaging in petty squabbles, a victim like a jilted jealous woman waiting around for an opportunity to get your revenge, etc., etc., etc.

    This "discussion" on Amy's blog is a good demonstration of how the internet can be used to bully someone behind the mask of anonymity.

    At least use your real names if you're going to launch an offensive against a writer viciously, in large numbers, in a coordinated attack. Don't be cowards. Don't hide behind the sacredness of the organization that you're supposedly protecting by shooting (or, rather, worse, torturing) the messenger of its failings.

    Really, Facebook is so much better in many ways than these Comments sections on blogs. You have to be you, and show yourself. So, that's what I'm asking all you anonymous critics: Show yourself here, and take responsibility for your opinions and criticisms, just like *REAL* writers, *REAL* political players must do.

    Respectfully and critically,
    Marianne Milton

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  36. Hi everyone. My name is Marianne Milton, and I've come to know Amy Alexander's writing recently, and I admire her greatly.

    Amy here has told her experience of working inside the NAACP, and how dysfunctional she found it. The NAACP is an important institution in the public realm, and its leaders and inner workings are fair game for analysis, critique, and exposure. Amy was working for the organization and has an important story to tell about her time there, and some of the important players in the organization.

    I don't understanding the drubbing she's taken here, really, except in the context of bullying, cult-like behavior by adherents who are struggling to discredit one who has left the fold and exposed the wrong-doings of the cult and its leaders. I'm not saying that the NAACP *IS* a cult: I'm saying that those of you, en masse, who have targeted Amy here with ad hominem attacks are acting cult-like.

    It's hard for me to ferret out the real arguments with Amy's story here, because they're buried in so much vitriole against her personally.

    Let's see, she's been called, here, a jaywalker, a hater, someone with an inflated sense of self-importance, one who demonstrated poor performance and inability to get along with others in her job, a slanderer, a ridiculing and confidence-revealing disloyal employee, delusional, pathetic, self-serving, ill suited to work in this position, one who did not understand civil rights and the fight for social justice, ignorant, obscene, superficial, writer of "dribblings," engaging in petty squabbles, a victim like a jilted jealous woman waiting around for an opportunity to get your revenge, etc., etc., etc.

    This "discussion" on Amy's blog is a good demonstration of how the internet can be used to bully someone behind the mask of anonymity.

    At least use your real names if you're going to launch an offensive against a writer viciously, in large numbers, in a coordinated attack. Don't be cowards. Don't hide behind the sacredness of the organization that you're supposedly protecting by shooting (or, rather, worse, torturing) the messenger of its failings.

    Really, Facebook is so much better in many ways than these Comments sections on blogs. You have to be you, and show yourself. So, that's what I'm asking all you anonymous critics: Show yourself here, and take responsibility for your opinions and criticisms, just like *REAL* writers, *REAL* political players must do.

    Respectfully and critically,
    Marianne Milton

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  37. Amy,

    BTW, Vampira sure *DID* need help with her/their writing if the recent dispatch from the NAACP about being "snookered" by Fox News is any indication. Jeez! Who uses the word "snookered"?

    And, in reading the articles you ghost wrote for Benjamin Jealous (linked above), it's obvious where Vampira added her "magic touch"---all that PR crap that reads like PR crap, which interrupts each story, is off point, and reads like boiler plate.

    They do a disservice to members and allies of the NAACP (and the mission of the institution) by not using your writing, investigative, and media skills (and advice), and by, instead, letting a PR Princess become the mouthpiece.

    Major reconstruction is required in the communications department, and because leadership is clearly not getting the support it needs, a major upheaval of the entire national staff may be in order.

    So sad, really, when a proud organization, after celebrating its 100th anniversary, shoots itself in the foot by not letting talented, smart people do their jobs without being "edited" by the One-Track, Superficiality Police.

    ---Marianne Milton

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  38. Marianne and Amy

    Puhlllease. Bullying? It's the reverse. You've not used any decorum here, and yes, been petty, and sent this blog tom places where it could affect many. I don't like many aspects of the NAACP or it's President, but I wouldn't parade a piece of journalism trumped up to be an expose of victimization (thrown under the bus). There is a quantum difference between Shirley and yourself. For one, she's not a bully filled with vitriol and bitterness. And second, she looks for resolve, not blame.

    Why are most of anonymous? That should be pretty clear. Your full of rancor and on the attack. Let's be honest.

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  39. Yes Amy it's great you admire the "worker bees" at the NAACP. Some have been there for decades. You lasted less than 90 days. I guess that would make you a drone bee. There is a similarity. Once the Drone bee's function is complete they're kicked out of the hive and prevented from returning. Not knowing how to survive they eventually expire. This isn't quite the case with you because it appears you had no purpose other than to complain and involve yourself in petty squabbles.
    Once it was clear that you were incapable of contributing anything constructive to the organization they quickly got rid of you.
    You've shown on your blog and in your short lived position at NAACP that you are toxic. On top of that your work was mediocre at best.
    So I would say that rather than a worker bee or drone bee.... you would be a drama bee.
    And with respect to Troy davis,it's instructive that even at this late juncture you still don't seem to understand how your blabbing inside information on the internet, that involved privledged conversations with lawyers seeking to assist him, has possibly hurt his case.

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  40. "Amy Alexander said...
    Oh, for Pete's sake.

    This is the last I will say in this space:"

    "Promises are like crying babies in a theater, they should be carried out at once. "

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  41. Amy Alexander said... If you are upset about the mental health/BTJ insinuation, you need to ask Vampira WHY she dropped that info on me following our lunch that day at Georgia Brown's.

    You can't blame Vampira because you decided to repeat this gossip and from how you have described Vampira she doesn't sound as if she is a credible person.

    Now I'm beginning to wonder what may be wrong with Jealous--ADHD, bi-polar, etc.

    Anyway I hope he gets some help with his stuttering problem and becomes more media savy.

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  42. Thanks Roderick,

    Regardless what you were told and by who,you can't excuse yourself for repeating gossip,especially sensitive information that could be damaging to an individual.
    It seems that one of the problems you have is that you're never responsible for anything. A conversation with lawyers regarding a death penalty case should never be discussed or repeated. Nor should your opinions regarding those conversations or the case be aired to the public.Even in your last post you're still airing conversations about Troy Davis. These can used against him ,the NAACP and anti death penalty activists.You simply can't blame others for your poor judgement.Stop thinking about yourself for one moment and keep this in mind before you open your mouth or write a post.
    One thing is clear. In addition to the Sherrod fiasco the NAACP made an equally horrible mistake in including you in sensitive campaigns that required decretion. They never should have confided in you in any way and they made an equally bad decision in hiring you.

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  43. Dear Haters Anonymous,

    You're great soldiers. You follow orders. You repeat the party line verbatim. And you attack until there's no one standing. Brava!

    *NOTHING* that Amy has said here about the Troy Davis case is news, unless you don't read other sources. And none of it is privileged communication between lawyer and defendant. (And, let's remember here, Troy Davis is the defendant, not the NAACP.)

    Here is the sum total of what Amy said in this post about conversations with lawyers: "Is Troy Davis truly innocent? You got me. And, as I sat in on phone calls with Vampira, the association's legal partners, and activists in Georgia, it eventually became clear to me that the NAACP couldn't be entirely positive, either, that Davis was innocent."

    Many people wonder about whether Davis is innocent or not. And he *WILL* get the chance to be judged on the evidence again, unlike anyone else in the past 50 years of death-row appeals.

    And, please, while I admire Amy's work and professionalism, let's not deify her. Nothing she says here, in her blog post, is going to sway the judgment of Troy Davis' case one way or another. She may influence other reporters/commentators/readers to look more deeply into the case. But that's a long, long, *LONG* way from jeopardizing the outcome of the case.

    I understand that you can't do it publicly, because it's clear you have your marching orders, but quietly, in your *OWN* minds and hearts, please reconsider your ad hominem attacks on Amy, and refrain from going after the next truth-teller at the NAACP with all you've got collectively, once that person has been "expelled."

    It's not befitting a great and storied organization whose mission evolved around fighting for the rights and dignity of every human being. Whether that person is in the majority (like you all are, for the moment, at the NAACP) or in the minority.

    Think about it, when you're by yourself, and back down on this approach. Believe me when I tell you, from an outsider's position, nothing looks less credible than a bunch of insiders attacking a lone ex-employee for telling her story---bravely and with no corporate/institutional imprimatur.

    Now, back to work for me, and I hope, for you all.

    Sincerely, respectfully, and at a safe distance from you all,

    Marianne Milton (still available on Facebook, if you'd like to talk, person-to-person).

    ReplyDelete
  44. Marianne please.
    It's not a matter of whether Amy by her lone misguided actions is putting the case in peril. Anyone looking at her actions with respect to the Troy Davis case would say it was ill advised to be on a call with lawyers and advocates and then opine her opinions about what was said in the call.
    "She may influence other reporters/commentators/readers to look more deeply into the case. But that's a long, long, *LONG* way from jeopardizing the outcome of the case."
    Marriane, if Amy is suggesting that people supporting him might not believe he's innocent,what do you think reporters will be looking for? Do you think that would help him??Does descretion mean anything to you?
    You can't have it both ways. You complain of ad hominen attacks,but you overlook Amy's vicious comments about others.
    She criticizes yet, offers no solutions. She disparages people and has no apologies.
    She takes responsibility for nothing. She compares herself to Sherrod who has forgiven the NAACP and shown incredible grace and integrity.
    Stop worrying about who is delivering the message.

    Look at the message

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  45. Oddly, I never noticed his stuttering. It appears his stutter didn't hinder the powerful speech delivered calling out racist TParty elements, and did achieve it's goal. Williams resigned.

    There have been many a successful and charismatic orator, leader, and public figure who've had obvious speech impediments, often without any correctional voice coaching.

    Shall I name, or shall you google? Here, I'll give you a head start.


    Stutter: Brevan British Labor Party Leader and lead opponent to Winston Churchill, considered to be one of the best orators in Parliament.




    Lisp: Winston Churchill. Need I say more. (you're educated, right?)

    Stutter: James Earl Jones, one of the most sought after orators and voices in media.

    Lisp: Barbara Walters, goes without saying, and her speech impediment has
    become endearing to her legion of fans.

    The list goes on and on. Reemphasis: Quite a few of these individuals rejected coaching and became icons in the career paths chosen.


    Savvy? Never gave it a thought. Ben appears very savvy with his knowledge and delivery when confident, and embarrassing and fumbling over words when not (Sherrod. . ..). That's true for anyone, and it has little to do with his stutter.


    Oh yes, the other criticism, you wrote his OP Eds. Which insinuates he doesn't write his OpEds? After leaders spend years writing and preparing material for others, when promoted not many politicians write their material, though the thought is theirs, and that's what counts. There's usually not enough time once a political figure is hired to be the talking head.

    Oh,yes, seeking the limelight? That's part and parcel of such a job. Let's
    hope they're seeking it or they need to choose a different career path. But I beg to differ after witnessing the TParty speech.

    Thrown under the bus? Aren't we all. Choose to be a part pf your life when adversity comes your way. Dont attack others. There's no blame here, for you made the choice to be a part of whatever dysfunction you describe. Learn
    and grow. Its a bit like a bad marriage? Divorce, reflect, get liberated, and blossom ( instead of Bitterness and blame).

    ReplyDelete
  46. Ah yes, per your request,

    The last post was from Thomas

    ReplyDelete
  47. "Thanks for sharing your opinions here -- I appreciate them, as well as your willingness to use your names (assuming they are indeed your names. Oh, and are you two sisters? Just wondering, since you share the same surname.....)"
    Thomas ,even when you use your name it's not enough. Anyone who disagrees or provides constructive criticism must be vetted otherwise you have no credibility.

    ReplyDelete
  48. Sherrod let bygones be bygones, and her defamation suit isn't directed at the NAACP, USDA, or Obama. She's suing Breitbart, and that in itself tells us where our focus needs to be.

    ReplyDelete
  49. . . .unless this blog is about ranting over injustices you believe were done to you. In this case, you hurt your own credbility. Sad.

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  50. Jealous came to my church to speak in Harlem, (Abyssinian Baptist Church), some time ago, and I was not that impressed in his brief comments.

    Recently, my pastor attributed a quote to Jealous, that said (and I paraphrase) that "there is nothing that we (black people) have set out to do of importance that has not been fulfilled". Is that yours?

    That same pastor (Calvin Butts) just had (I think) a turnaround in his thinking on Jealous btw.

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  51. Sherrod again shows clear incisive thinking . She goes after the real culprit..Breitbart.
    Alexander went exclusively after the NAACP. She didn't mention a thing about Fox or Breitbart.
    "Do I "compare" myself to Mrs. Sherrod -- absolutely, in a metaphoric sense. Or is that too nuanced for you all to get? "

    Delusional.

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  52. No, you're contrived and presumptuous. There is "nada" in common between
    Mrs Sherrod and yourself, no matter how you pitch it.

    She was an authentic victim who took the DEFENSE, overcame the odds and is fighting the good fight without blog blame pettiness and incessant ranting. A very humble together woman.

    Um, you on the other hand . . . You took the OFFENSE and trivialized the very experience you went through.

    Trivialized? Here, I'll spell it out for you. Número UNO, the speech impediment. Who cares,? And after reading about how many public speakers and icons have this same attribute, honestly you made yourself look foolish. The speech whatever doesn't appear to affect the power
    of his speeches , go ask the TParty or Mark Williams and the many Dem. blogs still celebrating this as a small victory.

    You writing his op eds? What's new? 3/4 of public officials do the same, its known, its legal, and the content and basic ideas are theirs and the collective support team. They know they're the talking heads for all of us. I know for a fact, first hand, he writes a ton of his material and then it goes through someone like you (hopefully not), to be edited, proofed and polished while he attends to the next 100th item on the agenda.

    Are you trying to prove he's not who he appears to be. It's backfired, by just writing this blog.

    Vampira, her bitchiness and disrespect of you, that could have been valid and not so trivial or petty had you not mentioned her dress code. You came off , well , like some jealous insecure bitchfest blog writer.

    Choose your words or choose your battles. You did neither here. To boot you posted your rant in some of the most non credible blogs meant entirely for bitchfesting at it's most pretentious level.

    Do you get it? No, guess not, it's too obvious.

    Keep ranting and Blaming, Its what you do best, my dear.

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  53. I just read this for the first time on yesterday. Hmmmm, Amy, I am so sorry that this happened to you. These kinds of situations, no matter the employer, are painful, injurious, and leave a lingering odor and taste. It is expecially so when the employer is expected to be a different kind of employer informed by the organization's guiding priniciples and mission.
    I am not a wordsmith like you, nor do I make my living as a journalism activist. That is what you do and that is exactly the style of work that the NAACP required at the time of your hiring. I knew there was something different going on at the time, and attributed it to BJ's press background. And in the last almost 18 months that luster waned, and I noted that as well. So now I understand and see how the changes came about.

    I should hope that all of the people here who are asking the questions about why you wrote this piece and emphasizing your credit in this bizarre situation are also asking deeper questions about the what the organization needs, why we are not seeing progressive maturity in its relationship to public policy, current events and our community. We should not just accept that people get treated badly and that is how it is.

    The same kind of toxic build up that we see in lots of organizational heaps, non-profit or corporate, should not be acceptable. The NAACP cannot have disregard for dignity, integrity and fairness in the workplace and simply flip it off as "the way things get done". Gossip and gossip-mongering is a foul kind of activity if you are building a courageous and effective team for the kind of work that this organization should be doing.

    :Sigh: What you describe here certainly leads me to believe that it contributed to the Shirley Sherrod debaucle at the NAACP. I can hear Vampira right now sitting at lunch declaring that Ms. Sherrod shouldn't have been so stupid as to say such nonsense to an audience. Dumb and unsophisticated urchin !

    Well, I don't know about BJ's speech impediment or mental condition, I do know that the NAACP has no intention of listening to its Branch priorities and perspectives, no having regard of respect for the boots on the ground. Following your narrative, yes, the organization is tracking issues by what will get them onto the MSM. How sad. It also occurs to me that while some individual in the leadership may not have a mental condition, someone does. The organization is way too often reactive, lethargic and unresponsive.

    By the way, you are some terrific writer.

    JMHO

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