Shirley Sherrod, the black woman who recently resigned from the USDA for racially-divisive remarks, deserved to lose her job. She also found herself as an unwitting political pawn in the larger battle between the NAACP and the Tea Party Federation.

Sherrod committed the very mortal sin of laying too much of her brain out on a table for the world to see. At a local NAACP function, Sherrod went out of her way to volunteer the fact that she didn’t help a white farmer out as much as she could have, in large part because he was white. I’m not sure why Sherrod felt compelled to share so much with the audience, but it cost her dearly when she was asked to resign over the incident.

Sherrod’s big mistake is that she publicly stated what many people already think and do. white-owned companies are proven to discriminate by not giving jobs to African-Americans at the same rate they give them to whites. So, it’s not as if Sherrod is alone in her racially-discriminatory beliefs. The problem for Sherrod is that she made the mistake of admitting to her bias, which no longer allows her to lie like the rest of us.

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Sherrod’s fate is also a broader lesson for black people. For the longest time, many of us have tried to convince America that white folks have a monopoly on racism and ignorant behavior. But that’s not the case anymore, since we are no longer the underdogs. Given that our nation now has a black president, some white people believe they are every bit as marginalized as African-Americans. It’s worse to feel entitled to something and to lose it than it is to never feel entitled to anything at all.

In response to their marginalization, calls of reverse racism from the right are only going to grow louder. “The Man” is now a black man, and there’s never been a greater opportunity for whites to use reverse discrimination in order to justify institutionalized discrimination that has occurred over several hundred years.

Ms. Sherrod’s actions have far-reaching consequences in the very public battle between the NAACP and the Tea Party. Naturally, the NAACP rebuked Ms. Sherrod as quickly as the Tea Party demoted Mark Williams, the Tea Party Express leader who made racially-insulting remarks this week. Each side of this epic battle is trying to maintain the moral high ground, and both of them are going to end up looking bad in the process. The reality is that both the Tea Party and the NAACP have racially-biased leaders in their midst.

In America, the disease of racism affects us all. Whites and blacks have learned to collectively dislike one another so long that even when race relations have improved, we’ve both created a set of divergent realities and perspectives that sometimes build divisions that are seemingly too great to bridge.

Shirley Sherrod, the NAACP and the Tea Party are all reflections of the most extreme parts of all of us. We are all fighting to overcome our own biases, and incidents like these are simply symptoms of larger, unresolved issues.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition and the initiator of the National Conversation on Race. For more information, please visit>