Once upon a time, I was a big fan of Tavis Smiley. The man was articulate, progressive, and I thought (once upon a time) that he was a welcome voice to the congested field of predominantly white talking heads espousing views on any number of issues that, it seemed, someone apparently didn’t think black folks had much to say. Either that or (someone) didn’t think black folk were qualified to address these issues of national and international import. If it wasn’t Clarence Page or a handful of other ‘acceptable’ black opinion leaders, then it was no one at all. This, of course, was before MSNBC, which has bent over backwards to attract as diverse a collection of opinions as has ever been seen on any major news network anywhere.
And so, once upon a time, when Tavis (whose national stage was provided for him by the Godfather of Black Radio Tom Joyner) broke out from the pack and began to make his impact as a brother who wasn’t restricted in his opinions simply to the ‘black’ news topics but could actually espouse intelligent commentary about topics normally reserved for white commentators like, well, pretty much anything not tied to race relations, I was excited. I figured it was about damned time. Matter of fact it was way past damned time.
Then came 2008, Barack Obama got elected, and apparently Tavis thought there wasn’t enough room in the headlines for two intelligent, good looking black men, especially since one of those black men wasn’t paying sufficient deference to Tavis. Or to his good friend and loyal sidekick Professor Cornel West, who shares his meltdown with Tavis whenever Obama’s name is mentioned in their presence and who also seems to believe he and POTUS should be on a first-name basis. For God’s sake if the Rev. Al Sharpton can get his calls returned then surely the self-appointed Keepers of the Black Cultural Flame should at least get a tweet once and awhile.
Fast forward to 2013, and Tavis has now been shunned by his mentor Tom Joyner as well as the ‘other’ giant of black radio Steve Harvey, both of whom grew fed up with Smiley’s illogical – and transparently ego-fueled – tirades against the President. His once bright and shining star has been on a steady downward trajectory for quite some time – and Tavis says it’s Obama’s fault.
From Black Media Scoop:
Smiley said members of the Obama administration, whom he didn’t identify, have successfully convinced sponsors to stop funding Smiley’s ventures, including his anti-poverty initiatives. “This administration does not like to be criticized. And the irony of it is, there’s nothing I have tried to hold the president accountable on that my white progressive colleagues have not,” Smiley said. “They’re labeled courageous critics, but if I say it, I’m an ‘Obama critic.’ There’s race at play in the very question.”
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