The Sharpton Shake Down

The Al Sharpton Shake Down


In 2003, Al Sharpton launched verbal attacks against American Honda, accusing the car maker of not hiring enough African American managers. Honda met with Sharpton and agreed to pay into his National Action Network (NAN). Sharpton’s attacks immediately ceased. No word on whether Honda has hired more black managers.


Sharpton was given $200,000 by Pepsi after he threatened a race-based boycott of the company in 1997.


According to a Jan. 4th New York Post article, Al Sharpton’s organization has been paid by AT&T, McDonald’s, Pfizer, and many other companies who subsequently become immune from Sharpton’s race-based accusations. According to the article, “NAN had repeatedly and without success asked GM for donations for six years beginning in August 2000, a GM spokesman told The Post. Then, in 2006, Sharpton threatened a boycott of GM over the planned closing of an African-American-owned dealership in The Bronx. He picketed outside GM’s Fifth Avenue headquarters. GM wrote checks to NAN for $5,000 in 2007 and another $5,000 in 2008.”


Sharpton may be the most prominent for-profit race hustler, but he is certainly not the only one in the game. Playing the race card for personal or political advantage takes many shapes. Whether it’s Democrat US Senator Elizabeth Warren dubiously claiming to being Native American to help climb the academic ladder at Harvard or the lower-profile jobs as ‘Diversity Officers’ at companies and institutions, race claims can be profitable and exploitation tempting.


Rooting out true racism in our society is highly commendable. Every person should expect to be treated based on his or her character and talents, and those who confront race and gender bigotry deserve our support. But when we allow a racial spoils system for jobs, contracts, and government benefits based on ethnicity rather than merit, we create an environment that breeds the likes of Al Sharpton and other seedy exploiters.


Together, we must fight through the legal system, the court of public opinion, and in every other venue to build a truly just and civil society dedicated to equality of each individual under law – with no racial quotas, set-asides, race hustles, discrimination or preferences. A society where each person can be proud of his or her own individual accomplishments based on their own merit. Thank you for being part of this important fight.


- Jennifer Gratz