Tavis Smiley is hosting a national forum today in Chicago titled, “We Count! The Black Agenda is the American Agenda.” I don’t like the title at all. The Black Agenda is PART of the American Agenda but it’s not THE Agenda any more than the Hispanic, White, Native American, or Asian “Agendas”. Do I think that the US Government should show concern when any of its citizens are racially profiled, denied mortgages, or otherwise discriminated against? Yes. Do I think African-American face some special challenges due to institutionalized racism in this country? Yes. However, I think that the Black community has to galvanize and organize to create solutions internally and not depend on the Federal Government or Barack Obama for all the answers. Where are the Black leaders who are challenging Black America to stand up and take responsiblity? Where are the brothers and sisters who understand that WE not ONE can save the nation?
If this all you have to do be a Black leader? Get a soap box on TV and take that influence to create a leadership persona. Is it really that simple? I really have to question the context of this meeting. Is there corporate sponsorship? Is it being done in a spirit of black unity? I didn’t hear about it until Tavis had a bone to pick with other black leaders.
The issue came to a head recently when Tavis Smiley, appearing on the morning show of syndicated radio host Tom Joyner, openly questioned black leaders such as NAACP President Ben Jealous, the Rev. Al Sharpton and the National Council of Negro Women’s Dorothy Height about their unwillingness to hold President Obama accountable for these disparities and demanded that Obama develop an agenda targeted to address black inequalities. Impassioned by the debate, Smiley is hosting a national forum today in Chicago titled, “We Count! The Black Agenda is the American Agenda.” – Washington Post
You know, we need to be real. There are a lot of black people who are wearing the leadership hat who frankly may just be working their gig for everylittle bit of fame we will give them because that is their full-time job. If you are selling books, throwing events, or appearing as a TV news pundit more than twice a year, I think you may just be trying to drum up business for yourself. Let’s be real people, we all know of black activists who are not in it for the money. We see people working who don’t have to invent issues or attach themselves to the latest tragedy of the day. They are working hard as advocates on the behalf of the people and their rewards are progress and change…not air time and notoriety.
In recent years there have been a number of events like this held by different Black notables. Have they just been for show? What movements or organizations have been created out of these events? How much more could be done if Black leaders took a grassroots approach to bringing Black America together in a more tangible way? How about Black Lobby Day? How about Black “Go talk to someone on your local school board” Day? How about educational seminars in the community on personal finances, parenting, and home ownership. We don’t need President Obama to focus on us as his highest priority, he’s got a nation to content with (which we are a part of). We don’t need an agenda that is simply a list put together in a vacuum that doesnt’ have the will of the people behind it. We as Black People need to work with our leaders to organize and create a plan of action that positively affects our community.
We don’t need a special focus on Black people. We all know that people will make you feel special, and all the time they are trying to distract you from the real problems and issues by giving you special attention. We don’t need that. We need to be in control of the Black Agenda for Black America.