Tavis Smiley vs. The World

Every morning as I get ready for work, I listen to the Tom Joyner Morning Show.  As soon as I heard the tease that Tavis Smiley was giving the commentary for the day, I knew something was about to pop off.  We all know that  ever since President Barack Obama has come on the national scene that Tavis, as he would say, has been holding the President Obama “accountable”.  However to most folks, it has come across as personal, or better known as “hateration.”   And there seems to be a black cloud hanging around.  First, Tavis falls out with Tom Joyner, next he leaves The Tom Joyner Morning Show, and then the ending of the “State of the Black Union”.   Tavis stated that he was ready to move on and tackle other projects, but it just looked BAD.   So it was disheartening when Brother Tavis resurfaced on the Tom Joyner Morning Show with more of the same.  

Tavis’ crusade of accountability has now expanded.  His new beef is over the recent meeting between President Barack Obama, Rev. Al Sharpton, NAACP President Ben Jealous and National Urban League President Marc Morial discussing the jobs bill.  Tavis is up-in-arms because his counterparts did not deem the meeting as a part of a “Black Agenda.”  Sharpton  said they did not ask for a race bill because they thought it wouldn’t pass.  This has now stirred the debate about is there a need for a Black Agenda. 

So what is an agenda?  It is defined as a  list of or program of things to be done or considered.  So do African-Americans have an agenda?  Do we have a list or  program of things to be done or considered?  Yes.  There are many issues African-Americas must address and advocate for because it significantly impact our communities.   My question is does it really matter if it is called a Black Agenda as long as the work assists and benefits the black community?  Please respond if you have an answer. 

I do agree that there is no need to fear a Black Agenda.   Usually when Black people make social gains, everyone benefits from it.   To me, as long as Black people know what is the agenda, or what we are working towards, then does it matter what others call it or recognize it?  I thought we were pass the need of validation from others.  

Now, I am all about debating divergent opinions, but it seems to be causing a serious divide.   And the media is only fueling the fire.  Charles Ogletree, Roland Martin and Rev. Al Sharpton responded to Tavis’ accusations to defend the meeting.  Rev. Sharpton emphatically protested Tavis saying “When they were running around buck-dancing for Bill Clinton, they did not ask for a black agenda – I did.” Sharpton further said we don’t need another book…this is not about a production, it’s about producing for our people.”  **Giving Tavis the side-eye**  You can listen to the whole back and forth here.  And to top it all off, all of this being played out on a national stage.  Why couldn’t Tavis and Sharpton hash out their differences privately, then publicly unite to advocate for the Black community? 

Tavis is now promoting his upcoming discussion in Chicago on March 20th entitled “We Count: The Black Agenda is the American Agenda ?   However, who is going to take the Black Agenda seriously if the people who would be instrumental in implementing the agenda can’t work together?  

Seriously, I would like to ask Brother Tavis what is his motivation?  Is there another way we can handle this disagreement less publicly?  And what is the end-result  that he wants to accomplish?  We must be purposeful and effective with our actions.  I hope this isn’t going to be a waste of people’s energy and time.

One comment

  1. To expect all blacks to have the same viewpoint is like asking everyone to be the same religion. To the Bill Cosbys and the Tavis Smileys in the world speak your mind. Booker T. Washington, W.E. Dubois and the leaders in the day did not always agree on solutions for the African American Community. The dialogue needs to continue and we must be brave enough the recognize the need to hold Obama accountible. Look at his campaign finance reports. He is a politician like everyone else. Just because he is black he shoudl not get a free pass.

    Tavis is correct that the black is agenda should be the American agenda. This country was built on our blood sweat and tears. Some of us have survived socailly while others have not. To many of our community are incarcerated, have no healthcare, and hope that he will address these issues. If Obama does not implement progams to address these concerns the dwindling hope the black Do all white people agree on every issue? community had in him will disipate. One of my 8th grade students asked me when is Obama going to help with the job situation. What concerns me is how the Democrats and the Republicans are giving up on healthcare reform after the loss of the Senate seat in MA. Maybe we need another Party- A healthcare for all party.

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