Time To Cut Cornel and Tavis Some Slack


Photo courtesy of Newsone.com

When trying to come up with words or phrases to describe the behavior of Cornel West and Tavis Smiley, many usually say that both are “haters” or just “bitter.” Those two words wear on Smiley and West like a cheap suit because of their relentless attacks on President Obama.

Since West was denied a pair of inauguration tickets in 2008, and Smiley saw Obama turn down his invitation to appear at one of Smiley’s corporate sanctioned events, both men have gone after Obama with certain ferocity.

In the beginning, some dismissed West and Smiley’s criticism as talk of bitter men who have been denied access to Obama’s inner circle. Because Obama failed to fully embrace them, some suspected that Smiley and West were covered in salt.

Formerly, I was included in that some. Yet since what most, if not all, of what Smiley and West have said about the president is true, I am no longer in their category of opponents.

As many black Americans grappled with the exoneration of George Zimmerman, President Obama attempted to encapsulate the rage that many black folk have with America’s legal system.

While the speech was widely accepted and praised, Smiley and West panned it. Smiley said that it was “weak as pre-sweetened Kool-Aid,” and West called Obama a “global George Zimmerman.”

But what many missed behind the biting words of Smiley and West was this: Obama’s words lacked substance. Sure, many black men have been unfairly profiled when walking into a department store or simply entering an elevator. Car doors have been firmly locked shut and women dig their nails into their purses if a black man walks by. Yet there is not a single piece of policy that we can point to by the Obama White House to attempt to combat the major issues impacting black and brown communities.

Since his time in the White House, Obama has done nothing to seriously address the crib to prison pipeline for black men, unfair drug laws in this country that send a disproportionate amount of black men to prison, and have tried to keep black men in prison under the crack-to-powder cocaine difference.

In 2010, Obama signed the Fair Sentencing Act which reduced the crack-to-powder disparity from 100-to-1 to 18-1. Still an unfair difference, but many saw this as “progress.”

Any new offenders would be subjected to the rules under the new act and not the old rule. Many sitting in prison were excited that the new act would apply to them as well. But the Obama Administration is fighting in court to make sure that millions of black and brown men remain locked behind the walls to serve the terms of the original sentences.

Now, how in the world does that correlate to substance? It doesn’t, which is why getting beyond the words and phrases used by Smiley and West is so important.

I will even go so far as to state that I’m not asking you to agree or disagree with them, I’m simply proposing that you review the information presented and arrive at your own conclusion.

Cornel West and Tavis Smiley may have personal vendettas against President Obama for tickets an failed appearances, but the argument that both men have presented against Obama far outweighs any criticism they have received because of their so-called “hate.”

It is finally time to cut both men a huge amount of slack.



7 thoughts on “Time To Cut Cornel and Tavis Some Slack

  1. Brother Jason. You make a very good case for us to ignore the drama and hyperbole and evaluate Staler and Waldorf, uh er, Smiley and West on the facts and data, which you so eloquently presented. They are getting grief because of their behavior. They choose to behave this way. They are smart men. They are wearing their big boy pants, at least West is. Tavis appears to be very sensitive to criticism, so he may still be in “Pull-Ups.” I’m not so sure that we should cut them some slack. In any event, your point is well made.

    • I can’t disagree. One of my biggest criticisms is that both men claim to castigate Obama from a place of love. If that’s the case, you can’t call Obama “Rockefeller in black face” and expect for him to take it positively.

      I just want for “us” to look at the substance, because there is a lot of it behind their words.

      Thanks for commenting.

  2. I agree with their critcism but its hard trying to oppose anything Obama does to other Black people. Its like arguing if Jesus is real to Black people, you will be sentenced to death before you can utter the word.

  3. Pingback: Cornel and Tavis Got It Right | West Orlando News | | West Orlando News Online 2013® Central Florida News, Info, Sports

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