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.
- Cornel West Says, “Obama Is A Global George Zimmerman” (bmia.wordpress.com)
- Cornel West, Tavis Smiley criticism of President Obama devolves into pot shots (thegrio.com)
- Cornel West: MSNBC Is ‘Rent-A-Negro’ Phenomenon (theroot.com)