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The Real Story of Racism at the USDA

Facing South - Right now, if you do a web search of the words "racism" and "USDA," the majority of links will steer you to coverage of this week's Shirley Sherrod affair, in which the African-American U.S. Department of Agriculture staffer based in Georgia resigned after a conservative website reversed the meaning of a speech she gave last year to imply she would deny farm loans to whites.

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

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