Cornel West, Tavis Smiley Poverty Tour, No Thanks Obama. : ThyBlackMan

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Cornel West, Tavis Smiley Poverty Tour, No Thanks Obama.

July 24, 2012 by  
Filed under News, Opinion, Politics, Weekly Columns

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( It has recently been reported that if poverty goes up by just .1% this year, it will be the worst poverty that America has experienced since 1965.   Peter Edelman, director of the Georgetown Center on Poverty, Inequality and Public Policy, attributes the poverty increase to a host of factors, including globalization, outsourcing, immigration, and an attack on unionization.

Workers’ wages are not increasing at the rate they once did, jobs are being sent to other countries, and those who don’t want comprehensive immigration reform are more than happy to watch wages drop as illegal workers are exploited by large corporations. The breakdown of unions and even the use of prison labor are changing our economy for the worse and endangering the livelihoods of millions of Americans.

Two men who’ve been consistently blowing the horn on poverty are Tavis Smiley and Cornel West.  What’s saddest is that many Americans have been so interested in  maintaining their love affair with the Obama Administration that they won’t even listen to policy advocates who have legitimate points of view.  Whenever Smiley and West try to bring up poverty, they are shut down, like the cousin who wants to tell grandma that her delicious soul food is going to give her diabetes.  People don’t care to actually try to figure out if Cornel West and Tavis Smiley have a point.  Instead, they consider poverty to be a highly inconvenient truth that throws cold water on the Intoxicating Negro Fairytale that is the Obama presidency.

Do either Cornel West or Tavis Smiley have a personal issue with President Obama?  I don’t know and I don’t care.  Neither should you.  The point is not whether their issue with Obama is personal.  The point is that poverty is a critically important issue that affects millions of President Obama’s most loyal constituents.   In keeping with the expected interaction between a political leader and the people he claims to represent, it is unfathomable that we can get angry because someone wants President Obama to address poverty. We sing and dance when Obama addresses gay marriage, immunity for illegal immigrants and the concerns of liberal white women, yet the matters that impact our community are considered to be too much trouble for such a busy and important person.  This point of view is sad, sick and just a little bit creepy.

The whole ridiculous issue of whether Cornel West and Tavis Smiley were attacking President Obama personally is annoying, largely because we are willing to let people starve while we figure out the answer to our petty question. After we finish saying “Awe, them negroes just be hatin on the president,” nobody says a word about whether or not the White House is taking poverty seriously. That’s like a kid telling his mother, “My teacher’s just hating on me, and that’s why she is accusing me of not doing my homework.” If the mother doesn’t verify what the teacher is saying, then she’s a bigger fool than her son.

I know Cornel West after speaking with him on the phone a few times and meeting him in person.  I’ve never met Tavis Smiley, nor have I met Barack Obama.  I am not in a position to speak on whether or not any of these men have personal issues with one another, nor would I care to be.  In fact, I wasn’t even invited to the inauguration (I wouldn’t have gone anyway, voting for Obama was enough).  But I do have a personal relationship with the starving families of America who are living in the streets because our people have forgotten to protect their interests.  I also care deeply for the families that have been destroyed because the father has been serving a 50 year drug sentence that could be commuted by a presidential pardon, or the black kids dying in the streets of Chicago every single day of the week.  That’s where it certainly becomes personal for me.

Poverty is important, poverty must be addressed and the issue must be kept on the table.  Any words you hear from (wealthy) black public figures like Steve Harvey, who might allude to the personal nature of the Cornel West/ Tavis Smiley critique, are the result of inside conversations meant to distract you from focusing on the real issues at hand and holding anyone in the Obama Administration accountable for what happens to the African American community.  

The black elite are wired to protect one another, and this often comes at the expense of regular people.  So, after you get done figuring out if Cornel West is angry over not getting his inauguration tickets, refocus on the matter at hand and start demanding that all Washington politicians do something about poverty.  It’s time to stop making excuses, for hope and change only start with people who demand it.

Staff Writer; Dr. Boyce Watkins
Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition. For more information, please visit


13 Responses to “Cornel West, Tavis Smiley Poverty Tour, No Thanks Obama.”
  1. Kiesha says:

    Thank you for this timely article. I’ve grown increasingly worried at the ability of a “Black” president to completely ignore his African-American constituents. I’ve also grown increasingly worried at the ability of a Black president, to militarize US soldiers in Africa via AFRICOM.

    I voted for Obama in the last election, shamefully (hindsight is always 20/20). My folks and I decided to vote for Mitt Romney in this coming election, not because we want him as president (I’m neither a democrat, nor a republican)…but because we KNOW that it will be nearly impossible for a white president to get away with what Obama is doing.

    If a white president ignores his Black constituents, while catering to Jewish, Hispanic, Asian, Armenian, etc constituents, he will be called out for his deliberate blind eye to Black people.

    If a white president tries to set up neo-colonial shop in Africa via AFRICOM (which Bush tried and failed at doing), he would be sent packing.

    So instead of just not voting (which I initially planned to do this election), Romney will get my vote…

    With Obama, Black people have gotten to a point where we don’t even know our enemy when we see him.

  2. brotha says:

    Obama came out for Asians..Hispanics..Jews..Illegal Aliens but went ghost on African Americans. Fool me once shame on you…fool me twice shame on me.

  3. Brandon Watson says:

    I am so sick of the “woe is me” mentality sweeping through my race. This type of talk embarrasses me and should shame those who speak like this. President Obama is president of the entire country, not 13.8%. He came out for immigration and gay rights because they are social issues that effect more than one race. This is why we don’t progress because we sit around waiting on someone to show up and magically fix our problems. “Genius'” such as Cornel and Tavis do nothing but crab mentality action. We need to grow up and get the passifier out of our mouth. Question: So you complain about Obama and he loses the election; now, Mitt Romney is your president; are you going to complain to him? I would like to ask “brutha” west, where was he during the bush administration, during Clinton? Why did he all of a sudden grow balls when the black president is in office. Mr west and mr smiley remind me of the slaves running for the train at the end of Rosewood. Don’t want to stand and fight. Just take what is given until the black man shows up. It disgusts me.

  4. nevadasmith says:

    Dr. Boyce Watkins, You said wrote : “I also care deeply for the families that have been destroyed because the father has been serving a 50 year drug sentence that could be commuted by a presidential pardon “. I also care about ending The Drug Civil War/Holocaust . That being said, I would insist that any Black Voter support of any Presidential Candidate be conditional on enlisting Dr. Michelle
    Alexander, Author of : “The New Jim Crow”,as a Presidential adviser. Lets help all the Victims of this Crime Against Humanity,especially The POW’s.

  5. nevadasmith says:

    Nobel Prize winning Economist and New York Times Columnist Paul Krugman in his
    Book “Conscious Of A Liberal” made the argument that : Anti-Unionism and The De-Industrialization of America was, and is Racially based. That is The Synopsis, read it for yourself.

  6. This is the United States of America. Poverty does not exist in our land. It hasn’t since the Great Depression. don’t y’all watch tv and listen to the radio??? How could poverty possibly exist in a place where all the general public is concerned with is the latest smartphone and “reality” shows about housewives who have never been married and have jobs? True enough, neither the federal government nor President Obama (he’s mixed) care anything about poverty, unemployment, or recession in THIS country, but neither do the people (us) who have to deal with it on a daily basis. Americans have become not only lazy, but cowardly, and extremely complacent when it comes to our lives, our rights, and our quality of living. We extend ourselves whole heartedly into voluntary slavery for American corporations who refuse to pay us what we’re worth, over charge us for shoddy products, and ship our jobs overseas. We’re more interested in celebrity baby photos and rappers in leopard print skinny jeans than we are with the absolute RIDICULOUS cost of gasoline. We as Americans have allowed our country to be taken away from us and the only people who care are either to be considered crazy or terrorists.

    How do you fix a problem when the masses have been convinced that it doesn’t exist???

  7. Larry says:

    Well said to all of the previous commenters. Lonnie, please don’t throw away your vote on someone who obviously doesn’t care about our community. We must value ourselves even if no one else does. We must declare our political independence in order to have our voices heard. Talk to people in the barbershops, parking lots, family reunions, and everywhere humanly possible to strike up a conversation.Our future is in our hands – our children’s future is in our hands. Our pres. will not only give away our hopes and dreams but, if not reigned in he will give away our entire country in order to remain in power. Shock the world and show them that our vote will not be taken for granted anymore.

  8. Lonnie Radcliffe says:

    Hats off to Dr. Boyce. He has accurately brought light on THE issue that Obama has avoided like the plague. I will vote for Obama only because Romney in the White House is the unthinkable. But lets be perfectly clear, Obama long ago abandoned his most loyal supporters, us black folks.

    Lonnie Radcliffe

  9. ErikKengaard says:

    Obama couldn’t care less because he knows he has your vote. He is not quite as sure about the Hispanic vote, so he’ll work on that.

  10. not so says:

    Obama’s inner circle consists of Chicago Thugs, especially Valerie Jarrett, former slumlord for Tony Rezko, guy who gave the million dollar house in Hyde Park to Obama at the expense of poor people who Obama was hired to represent but neglected.

  11. Umm Yeah says:

    Thumbs up!

  12. The government doesn’t want to solve poverty because of who controls it. The president doesn’t control the government. He barely controls his own administration because of the people he appointed, who were once members of the bush administration or still are. The wealthy control the government and they’re not interested in the poor. I do have a soluition for the poverty in our community. If we stop spending a trillion or more dollars of our hard earned money, making every other group wealthy but our own, we would have the money to solve the poverty issue and any other issue in our community. Then we could talk to the government from a place of power, instead of begging for the crumbs we use to get.

    Black Unity is the solution and always will be.

  13. Pat says:

    WEll said. Black America is at the bottom of the barrel and president Obama couldn’t care less. When was the last time he visited shooting victims in Chicago? yet, he was already in Colorado. Has he done anthying for blacks? No, but illegal immigrants now have rights. This makes no sense at all. Blacks are witnessing their downfall and are doing nothing about it. Good luck.

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