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Flailing Obama in the Black Community

Tavis Smiley and Cornel West launch a "Poverty Tour" that criticizes the president in harsh terms.

by
Mychal Massie

Bio

August 25, 2011 - 12:00 am
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Smiley won the NAACP Image Award for best [black] news, talk, or information series an unprecedented three straight years (1997-99) for his work on BET Tonight.

He is the epitome of “do the right thing black socialism.” He founded the Tavis Smiley Foundation, which funds programs to develop young leaders in the black community. Black schools named buildings in his honor.

That is, until West and Smiley dared challenge Obama to make good on his campaign promises to the black community. West dared to publicly characterize Obama’s dealings with him as two-faced, rude, and dismissive.  He told how Obama had tried to intimidate and bully him. Smiley has become increasingly more critical of Obama for what has been viewed as his inattentiveness to the black man and, specifically, to black poverty.

The vituperation was swift in coming. They were set upon from every sector of liberal blackdom.  How dare they criticize Obama? They were committing the ultimate sacrilege — they were black liberals of unassailable “blackness” criticizing the prince of “blackness” in public. And if that weren’t bad enough, not only did they combine their efforts on a talk program, they also organized a “Poverty Tour” to bring attention to black poverty, the needy, and the failings of Obama.

The “Poverty Tour” traveled to Indian reservations, soup kitchens, and low-income housing communities. Judging from the attacks, it is reasonable to believe that the White House itself wasn’t about to let West and Smiley practice such disloyalty without punishing them. There was no way Obama could afford to allow these two men, both of whom have unimpeachable records of viewing things through racial prisms, to bastardize him in the very communities he is counting on to help get him reelected.

His minions were swift and vicious. Actor and television personality Steve Harvey blasted them as ignorant buffoons — even going so far as to do a comedy skit of them as Uncle Toms driving a bus. Al Sharpton chimed in on the attack as well. Radio jock Tom Joyner was particularly vicious in his criticism.  There were accusations that Smiley was just bitter because Obama had turned down offers to be on his show. West was lampooned as a sad sack, as having been a failure at Harvard, and as being a bitter black man.

I’ve got prime real estate right in the middle of Lake Michigan to sell anyone who thinks Obama’s fingerprints aren’t all over these attacks. Let me remind you that these are the royalty of Blackdom. This is the Jet magazine and Ebony magazine set hurling these epithets.

Besides the fact that this criticizing is of Obama, what does it say about people who have been brainwashed to believe it is wrong to factually criticize another black if that black personifies the lowest levels of commonality?  What does it say about a people who are said to live in tightly knit church communities?

It says that contrary to these and other “widely” held beliefs about blacks, success, and groupthink, it is not just those who are targeted as Uncle Toms who are attacked. It is any black that dares to reject the uniform code of black identity groupthink.

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Mychal Massie is the chairman of Project 21, "The National Leadership Network of Black Conservatives."
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