How Shirley Sherrod Ending Up At Prop 8-Loving Doug Manchester’s Hyatt Hotel

Shirley Sherrod, the fired-then-reinstated USDA official, was quite the get for the National Association of Black Journalists annual confab in San Diego this week. Too bad NABJ decided to host their yearly conference at Doug Manchester’s Grand Hyatt in San Diego.

There’s some real irony in seeing Sherrod, the instant face of why it pays to end discrimination, delivering a speech at a place owned by a man who believes in discrimination.

Breaking the boycott of Manchester, who donated $125,000 to help pass Prop 8 and then hired gay publicist Howard Bragman to undo his evil, NABJ went forward with its booking at the Hyatt, despite resistance from the organization’s own LGBT Task Force, whose co-chairs Katina Parker and Jonathan Adams say in a statement:

According to NABJ leadership, the National Association of Black Journalists could not have survived the $1.2 million loss that would have resulted from boycotting Manchester Hyatt and breaking the convention contract. Bearing the financial health of the NABJ in mind, the LGBT Task Force has been in talks with the NABJ’s leadership since March, advising on ways to make it clear to our membership, our LGBT Task Force and the public-at-large that NABJ does not endorse discrimination against the LGBT community or unfair and unstable conditions for hotel workers.

As a public association dedicated to making sure that Black people are represented in all aspects of shaping the media, we encouraged our leadership to take a strong stand against all businesses that treat people like second-class citizens.

Our recommendations included: releasing a strong public statement to NABJ membership detailing the situation with the hotel and steps that are being taken to avoid future instances where the organization finds itself bound to an unacceptable contract; making a long-term commitment to offering journalistic trainings about LGBT issues to members; and offering resources to members who are dealing with acceptance issues of family and friends who are LGBT.

Moreover, guess who was also there? Donnie McClurkin!

To date, NABJ leadership has not taken the public stand that represents our core values of equity, workplace safety, and mutual collegial respect. Additionally, NABJ has invited ex-gay gospel performer Donnie McClurkin to sing at the opening plenary. Recently, Boston Mayor Tom Menino chose not to attend a McClurkin performance at Boston’s Gospelfest because of his widely publicized homophobic views.

Back in June, NABJ president Kathy Y. Times did offer this response:

I also would like to address some members’ uneasiness about the San Diego host hotel and its developer’s religious views on same-sex marriage. Hotel owner Doug Manchester contributed money to Proposition 8, a measure passed in 2008 that bans same-sex marriage in California. While Mr. Manchester owns the hotel, the Hyatt Corporation is progressive and has domestic-partner policies. Click here to read about Mr. Manchester’s recent apology on this issue.

While our organization values the diversity of its members, breaking the legal agreement would cost NABJ $1.2 million. NABJ negotiated the San Diego hotel contract more than five years ago before this issue surfaced. We are making progress in paying off a six-figure convention debt from 2009. NABJ’s leadership has been very proactive in renegotiating hotel rates and convention space to avoid attrition penalties like those imposed on us by Tampa hotels.

And so on Thursday, there was Sherrod, speaking at an event that put money into the pockets of Manchester, saying, “If the suffering I’ve endured and the joy I’ve felt gets that discussion back out there, we’ve got to deal with it.”

It’s hard to fault NABJ for sticking with Manchester’s hotel if it’s true the agreement was five years old, and they would’ve taken a $1.2 million hit — that would’ve gone into Manchester’s coffers anyhow. But I agree with the group’s own LGBT Task Force: Condemn the activities of your host before stepping foot inside. Says the group: “[W]e are disappointed that our concerns and professional advisement were disregarded and had hoped to resolve these matters privately, prior to this year’s convention. Because of our collective standing in the community, many of us as journalists and some of us as media activists, we are compelled to make a public statement explaining our position on these matters.”

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  • horus

    screw the NABJ
    i heard they have bed bugs @Manchester Hyatt

  • Queer Supremacist

    Racist, classist, and now a homophobe.

    What’s the Vegas odds on her being an anti-semite, too? That’s usually the next domino to fall.

  • Jon B

    @Queer Supremacist: Are you being sarcastic? or just stupid?

  • L.

    The title’s grammar kills kittens.

  • Qjersey

    And in August the American Psychological Association is having their annual convention at the Manchester. And just like the NABJ, APA’s leadership claims that to cancel a contract that was finalized years ago would cost them too much money.

  • Sapphocrat

    Well, fuck. And I’ve been outraged _for_ Shirley Sherrod — and here she is, fresh off the Breitbart fiasco, doing… _this_.

    Damn it all to hell, when will I ever learn: Nobody, no matter how badly _they’ve_ been unfairly maligned, gives two shits about us expendable queers, nor about the union workers who are getting fucked up the ass (and not in a nice way) by Manchester.

    And McCLURKIN did the opening act?! If there was any question before about the NABJ’s attitude toward LGBTs, this seals it. What better way to say “Fuck you!” than a repeat of The Great Obama Homophobia Tour of ’07?

    And I don’t give a hoot about the Hyatt parent corporation; if labor and equal rights meant a thing to the suits, they’d cut Manchester loose and let him fend for himself.

    As for breaking contracts, it seems to me a couple of million dollars is a small price to pay for doing what’s _right_. (I’m looking at you too, APA — are y’all gonna cover your faces like so many frogmarched criminals when you cross the picket lines?)

    But then, I don’t understand this sort of cognitive dissonance, probably because I’m not beholden to out-of-touch rich people for my survival — or for free cocktail-party schmoozefests.

  • Nunya Bizness

    I can totally understand the cost constraint associated with penalties for reneging on a contract inked 5 years ago (especially given that organizations like NABJ are heavily dependent upon member dues, event fees and corporate sponsorship — they have to act as trustworthy stewards of donated funds if they expect to continue receiving them).

    However, I truly don’t understand choosing Donnie McClurkin to open the event.

    Firstly, I’m always perplexed by why — at most civic, social and fundraising events for African American-centric organizations — we MUST always slather some Jesus all over everything. I realize that “The Church” is a prominent aspect of our culture; but in this day and age it always comes off as contrived, unnecessary and/or forcibly PLACED on every agenda.

    Secondly, if Jesus MUST be invited – (I personally think he’d prefer to be left out of some of these events – especially NAACP meetings, Urban League conventions and the BET Awards) – there are SEVERAL other entertaining (and sincere) gospel artists that can be called upon to invoke “The Lawd” through the medium of inspirational voice.

    We don’t HAVE to invite (and pay… and promote…) a self-hating, disingenuous, faux-straight like McClurkin. His voice is great — but it’s no better than Yolanda Adams’ or Marvin Sapp’s. And — none of these people are any closer to God than any of the rest of us. You want Jesus (or whatever representation of God that you prefer) to show up for dinner? Each attendee can open with a silent, personal, individual prayer. Your God will manifest, you’ll have peace… and others don’t have to be faced with participating in promotion of hate.

  • natasha aksenova

    I do not understand the very concept of “black journalism” or black anything else. How would you like to see “white journalists” association or white TV channel? Who is the racist in the US? Let’s open our eyes.

  • Nunya Bizness

    @natasha aksenova:

    In a nutshell — all of the noteworthy organizations that cater to an African American or Black “special interest” were originally created to serve as social, professsional and political support groups.

    At the time of their creation, Blacks in the U.S. were institutionally held as 2nd Class Citizens and — depending founding date of the specific organization — had not long been considered a “citizen” at all; but were instead viewed as either subordinate objects of property purchased for the purpose of conducting forced, manual labor; or viewed as not even being human at all.

    With that line of thinking about the Black societal subgroup being the most prominent (because there have always been exceptions); many rights provided to a “real citizen” or a “real human” were denied to Blacks. And, for those exceptional individuals/families that “rose above” those constraints – there wasn’t much support provided to keep them buoyant (as a group/class) in their success. Also, In those areas where a thriving community of Blacks existed in majority (which was rare) — there was a strong policy of “Seperate but Equal” existed. No group, no matter how insulated, can be an “island” in this country and continue to survive with no connection or regard for the communities of influence that surround them. Therefore, there was also an existing need to provide various voices that could speak (and be heard) in our behalf within various public/social/professional forums.

    Thus, many of these groups labeled in the “Black” interest were born of that need. The question we’ll have to begin asking SOON is whether they’re still required. It seems that those organizations have not yet shifted their focus; and have not yet begun to speak on behalf of ALL disenfranchised minorities/subgroups (as they’re expected to do).

    Instead, however, they continue to serve a perceived “Black interest” that no longer even properly fits the evolved interest of many Blacks/African Americans. Yet and still – citizens of this country are simultaneously proving that NONE of us (as a group – black, white, purple, whatever) are yet “Post-Racial” enough in our political ideology to totally disband the special-interest groups or label them obsolete. Thus, there is fear that if you totally shut down those organizations and relinquish any socio-political power they may hold… there will be no one to still other powerful hands that have motive to remove previous rights granted.

  • Nunya Bizness

    @natasha aksenova:

    As an added follow up: a discussion could also be conducted around the pointed visibility of Black/African American socio-political organization in contrast to those seemingly non-existent “White” interest organizations.

    My viewpoint/opinion is as follows:

    1. In this country, the historic ideology (driven home by the former passive/aggressive political stance on slavery in it’s early days; followed by Jim Crow laws in the South prior to the Civil Rights era) is one that this country was a country discovered, created and run by and for the interest of “White” men. Therefore, anything not labeled for the special interest subcultures (including those for women) automatically served the purpose of “White” men first; “White’ people as a whole. That ideology obviously stuck — which is why not many people outside of very young Americans and those from other countries react in ideological protest to the existence of “Black” organizations. However, I agree that, in this modern American society that expresses a wish to rid itself of racism — ANY organization that serves a political special interest based on race would, indeed, be perpetuating racism.

    2. Organizations serving “White’ interest did (and stlll do) exist. In this country’s earlier years — given the high population of immigrants from European cultures — there were many, many, many clubs and organizations that served the special interest of those cultures. However, you’re also speaking of a period when individuals & families represented by those cultures would also create insulated regional communities based on their country of origin (thus,traditionally Italian, Polish, Irish, Greek, German and Jewish “neighborhoods” historically seem to subdivide every major city in America). So – again — when “separate but equal” rules the social climate, someone has to speak for those groups when universal socio-political impacts occur (local/federal government, municipal services, employment, etc). HOWEVER, you may not see or hear much from these organizations anymore because, without the differentiator of skin color (and with no connection to countries of origin) — many of the descendants of European immigrants were able to totally assimilate into American culture. Thus, with no need for a strong political voice, and no “special” interest to speak for — those groups either disbanded or became very quiet organizations focused on the intra-social aspects of their communities. The only anomaly would be that of the Jewish Community; in that they, similar to Blacks, are seen as a subculture that continues to be subject to hateful ideologies that could potentially limit their rights or make them targets of racism – despite the power or influence they may have as a group.

    3. The KKK would be the most well known and discussed “White” interest org. They still exist (and any power they have can only be guessed.. conspiracy theorists claim that their members wield a lot of quiet, secretive power and wealth in this country; others believe that they’re simply a collection of angry, ignorant, uneducated hicks meeting in barns in rural areas — my guess is, they’re a mixture of all kinds of individuals who hold true to their ideology of protection of supremacy). However, they’re considered a “hate group” by the Federal Government (not “special interest”). The universally held difference between the KKK and any other special interest group based on support of a racial subgroup is explained in the latter half of point #1 above.

  • reason

    @natasha aksenova: Well do you understand why there needs to be gay activist groups, gay clubs, and gay anything else? Hopefully you have the intelligence to answer you own question. If not ask and I can spell it out for you. Always amazed at peoples ability to miss the obvious. Sometimes I wonder if race, religion, sexuality is something that addles some peoples brains from being able to understand things that only require third grade logic.

  • shum preston

    Gay-hater Donnie McClurkin did not in fact attend this event, so this post needs to be corrected/updated. Basing this article on untrue information distracts from the powerful and true advocacy that Katrina Parker and Jonathan Adams are engaged in, while at the same time making difficult conversations about race and sexuality even harder.

  • natasha aksenova

    Some of the reply to my comment were quite hateful of white people.Promoting any race is fascism. Trying to teach children from the very young age about slavery in biggest mistake a parent can make. Jews in the former USSR were and still are severely persecuted. We tried to provide best education to our children first and it works. Look at the world statistics and give me a comparative example of “black intelligence”. Your children are great and have potential but they can not compete. They are taught hatred first.

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