Tavis Smiley appeared on Sean Hannity‘s show tonight and had some pretty harsh words for President Obama, ripping into him for “lecturing” black people on recent events. Obama appeared on BET in an interview that aired tonight in which he said that America’s race issues will “take time” to deal with.
Smiley said, “With all due respect to our president, Barack Obama, black folk don’t need lectures on Black Entertainment Television. You go to Black Entertainment Television, Mr. President––respectfully––to lecture black folk, and then you’re wrong––respectfully––when you tell them that these things take time.”
He also scolded Obama for rejecting comparisons between today and 50 years ago, saying, “Tell that to the parents of these kids who have been gunned down in America’s streets. It is open season on black men, and it is in many ways as bad as it was 50 years ago.”
Smiley concluded, “Why go to BET and give black folk a lecture then go to Stephen Colbert and tell jokes? I don’t get that.”
Catharsis is not policy. Catharsis is not leadership. And shame is not wisdom. And applause can never make a man right. And there are many kinds of personal responsibility. The young black man, coming out of storied Morehouse, should be personally responsible for the foiling of this new wave of poll taxing. He should be personally responsible for ensuring that the Medicaid expansion comes to Mississippi. He should be personally responsible for the end of this era of mass incarceration. He should be personally responsible for the destruction of the great enemy of his people—white supremacy. It is so very hard to say this, to urge people on in a long war. We keep asking the same question, but the answer has not changed.
The 2013 State of Black America Web Series, sponsored by AT&T, is an eight-part series featuring lively discussion with the nation’s top leaders, political pundits, corporate executives and SOBA authors around the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington. This episode features Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr. (CEO, Hip Hop Caucus), George Curry (Journalist), and Ryan Mack (President & CEO, Optimum Capital Management, LLC).
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