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From Tavis Smiley, love and criticism for Obama

By Hamil R. Harris
PBS commentator Tavis Smiley said he deliberately placed a 6-by-6-foot inch cube with the word "love" on stage during his recent gathering of African American leaders in Chicago, where there was plenty of tough love for the 44th occupant of the White House.

"The time has come for a serious conversation about black America and the president being more aggressive about an African American agenda," said Smiley. "This entire conversation was rooted in love, in love for the president, in love for the country and in love for black people."

From the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan to educators Cornel West and Michael Eric Dyson, Smiley said every speaker who took part in the black agenda conference have "love and admiration" for Obama -- but also that the president needs an agenda for Black America.

"The bottom line is the president needs to take the issues of Black America more seriously because black folks are catching hell, number one," Smiley said." Number two: this theory that a rising tide lifting all boats -- that theory was soundly dismissed. Thirdly, because black people are suffering disproportionately, it requires a disproportionate response."

Not all African American leaders were on board with the approach Smiley's conference took. The Rev. Al Sharpton, who didn't attend the event, was critical of it, saying last week that Smiley is not a leader in the black community but a "commentator" who didn't hold the last Democratic president to the same scrutiny.

Smiley said he has taken inspiration from the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and the criticism he weathered after speaking up against President Lyndon Johnson's handling of the Vietnam War.

"In the last year of King's life, the entire country practically turned against him, given his anti Vietnam stance" said Smiley, who will also host a program about King's April 4, 1967 speech.

"And yet King stood for the truth and he didn't back down. Sometimes telling the truth will turn everyone against you...My job is to raise unsettling questions," he said.

*Note: This post has been corrected. It originally said the cube was 16 feet by 16 feet instead of six feet by six feet.

By Hamil R. Harris  |  March 24, 2010; 6:13 PM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency , Barack Obama  
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Well, here it is. EXACTLY what I initially tried to convey in my first post.

Ms. Angela Glover Blackwell was a panelist on Tavis' forum and she wrote this piece in huffpo which notes the imbalance in Tavis' approach toward this president, and it's also why I say Tavis' actions are anything but "love" toward Obama. Love has balance, Tavis does not!

This article sums it up very well:

Posted by: mysistagirI | March 31, 2010 2:19 AM | Report abuse

As a black American when do we quit holding Obama responsible for our own inability to execute. He is helping America and many Americans are benefiting like never before. Not only do we have 44 million people and the 16th greatest GDP in the world we have other minority groups such as Latinos and Immigrants that have a common interests. This type of program is good for careers but I can't help but feel they are a distraction to processes that actually get things done.

Posted by: kevin4911 | March 30, 2010 12:21 AM | Report abuse

Excuse me ! Who made Tavis Smiley the voice of black America? I listened to excerpts of this garbage on the radio and I was appalled. The president is not doing enough , blah blah blah. Let me guess? u want the president to increase the size of welfare checks ? or award contracts to local black businesses? I don't get it? Obama just passed a health care bill , with provisions 4 higher education, which mostly favors brown & black communities! What more do u people want? He has stressed Education & promise to reform it & he's only been in office for a year.
My thought - Obama is the president of America & not Black America! BTW.I am black & He was not elected by blacks. The whites & Latinos helped a lot. I suspect this is all about bitterness. Tavis, Johnson ,Jesse & their cronies backed the wrong horse & now they r not in Obama's inner Circle & they r envious.
To answer your ? What has Obama done 4 Black America? (1) He is a role model to every little boy in the ghetto , who can dream of becoming anything in the USA.(2) He has proved wrong some of the stereotypical image of black America. He has shown a black man is intelligent, disciplined and resolute.(3) made me proud to be Black. More than Tavis & his self-serving cronies can say. They have forums, conferences etc. How many of them actually go into communities to organize . They do, but only with the TV cameras in tow.
The sad thing is, all the president has to do, is invite these idiots to the WH for the super bowl & they will be singing a different tune.
The answer to black America is Education & responsibility. Not hand- outs. If the Hip Hop community can create a billion $$ industry & Tyler Perry can do it on his own, I am sure others can.
Finally, Brother Tavis! Please shut your trap. This is bigger than your ego. Remember, just like OJ, If Obama fails, every black man fails . So pls let the president do what is best 4 the Country.

Posted by: eurofree | March 27, 2010 10:17 PM | Report abuse

So if there is a black agenda that in turn means there must also be a white agenda, and a Hispanic agenda and a...

Glad we all have an agenda.

Posted by: Ernest56 | March 27, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse


You said: "Are you not describing your own actions. Your speech reveals you."

I say: In your zeal to make this about me, you seem to be missing a key point here. It may very well be that you see some problems in my actions, but why are you even holding the mirror on me when "I" am not the one that packaged my actions up in the "in love" brackets. That's exactly why I don't perpetrate like that, because I know I fall short. It is Tavis, and YOU also, that are claiming to be walking in love when according to the high standard of love defined by scripture, you're not.

A little nuggett of wisdom for you...
When someone constantly feels a need to tell you "it's NOT about the money(or you can fill in the blank), you can bet your bottom dollar, it IS about the money! The converse of that is also true, especially when it comes to one's love walk. Remember, love is not boastful, meaning it does not toot it's own horn. When it's the genuine thing, it's obvious and evident to all and needs no introduction. So when Tavis(and you) feel a need to constantly introduce your actions to someone as "in love", it is because somewhere in your inner most being, you KNOW that your subsequent actions will not resemble love. Love is not evident in what you're doing and that's really why you have to keep telling someone that you're operating "in love", because they certainly can't see it evidenced in your actions.

Now you have admonished me in this thread, so let me return the favor. Love is a high standard and something that requires more than just lip service. Don't lay claim to walking in it unless you know in your knower that your actions pass the test. The characteristic that makes love most identifiable is HUMILITY because as the scripture says, love is not vaulted(or puffed up).

Sistah, no one needs to show off or prove their love walk to me. I know the real deal when I see it. And I maintain that it was not in Tavis' actions concerning this president, nor was it in your self exaulted posts to me.

Posted by: mysistagirI | March 26, 2010 4:18 AM | Report abuse


Thank you for sharing your thoughts. While I do not agree, I must respect how you feel.

My intention was not to upset you, yet, to share my concern with your use of The Holy Scripture. Meaning, you description of our wonderful brother as "dillusional, too stupid, unbalanced, mockery, envy, boasting, rudeness, self seeking, Tavis wouldn't know real love if it walked up and shook his hand! Tavis is just another crab"

While stating "Here is what my bible says about love........."

Was offensive to me and viewed as words of death.

Thereby, I made the decision to express my concern and share scripture from The Holy Bible, that would prove useful in our attempts to be heard and or communicate.

My comments were also motivated by the fact that a large population of folks have expressed distrust and disgust of followers of Christ whom have made similar statements to yours while quoting scripture.

I am not suggesting that I live a perfect life, because I don't. What I am suggesting is while we are making choices of rudeness, consider not using Holy Scripture to make your point.

This is my opinion, you do not have to agree, however, I hope that you have be ability to respect it.

Also, what I found interesting is your response was and I quote you "while you proceed to write a condescending post to me and trying to use scripture in a condemning way. I've been a Christian for 22 years and I've seen plenty of people do this so it does not phase me".
Did not you do this? Are you not describing your own actions. Your speech reveals you.

The difference as you described between myself, you & Tavis, requires clarification. I want you to understand one, You do not have the ability to speak accurately with regard to my nor Tavis's motive. Two, I came to you in love, you did not receive it and I am ok with that. Third, Tavis's actions on numerous occasions, has demonstrated his love and respect for black people as evidenced in lives he has touched and the fruit of his labors.

With that said, I accept and so noted your description of yourself, as this is an area to which you can speak with accuracy, to your motive/action. You described yourself as a Christian of 22 years, who consciously decides to make comments that are not seasoned in loved.

Last, thank you for taking time to express your concern and sharing your favorite verse of all time, the very first verse that God had you commit to memory:
Prov 11:1, A false balance is an abomination to the LORD, But a just weight is His delight.

Proverbs is one of my favorite books,for it is our instructions for wisdom.

May HIS peace be with you,

Have a beautiful evening!

Posted by: Aprayingsistah | March 25, 2010 11:27 PM | Report abuse

"At least I'll still be white, which is something you're never be. And I'll still be rich, which you're never be and I'll still have a brain, which you'll never have" Lol ,and you're still blowing a gasket
and,if I might add , sounding quite insane .Thanks for the laugh .GOOD BYE

Posted by: faye_alice | March 25, 2010 9:40 PM | Report abuse

@ Aprayinsistah:

You do error greatly in your attempt to school me.

First, I did not mis-use any scripture. I posted the scripture exactly as it is written, and then simply pointed out that the components of love as stated in the scriptures were missing in action in Tavis' forum. How in the world do you translate that into a "mis-use" of scripture. You may not agree with my point of view, but that does not give you the right to charge me with mis-using anything.

Second, you claim "However,the comments you made and suggested about our wonderful brother Tavis, are words of death". To that I say, stop being sensational, will ya? I have spoken no words of death over Tavis. You sound like the tea baggers complaining about death panels. I mean really! words of death? stop it.

Thirdly, I believe that Tavis' constant use of the phrase "in love" while he then proceeds to misrepresent or under represent things about this president, is hypocrisy. And I also find you to be of the same ilk, because you(like Tavis) claim to be motivated by love, while you proceed to write a condescending post to me and trying to use scripture in a condemning way. I've been a Christian for 22 years and I've seen plenty of people do this so it does not phase me.

The difference between myself and you & Tavis, is that I'm not even gonna lie and tell you that I write to you in love because I know that my comments are not seasoned that way. When I tell someone I do something in love, it is truly done in love and not just for show. When God is finished with me, then I will be able to do things in love all the time automatically. I'm not there yet, and I'm not pretending just to sound spiritually above folk.

I'm sure you know that I could return to you several scriptures in the same manner that you gave me, but I don't engage in scripture battles. But I will leave you with my favorite verse of all time, and the very first verse that God had me commit to memory:

Prov 11:1
A false balance is an abomination to the LORD, But a just weight is His delight.

Take what you will from that.

Posted by: mysistagirl | March 25, 2010 3:03 AM | Report abuse

@mysistagirl - i agree!
@aprayingsistah - yes, we must constantly stay in prayer.
@jonny - mysistagirl is basing her points on not only the forum, but Tavis' entire conversation leading up to this forum.
@jhayne5 - you too have made some good points, but good grief - have some compassion!

Posted by: jbnella | March 25, 2010 12:12 AM | Report abuse

jhayne5 ,calm down before you blow a gasket . And as far as blacks being insignificant....even you know better than that otherwise why is your blood boiling ? The only group of gun worshipers in this country is yours and something tells me you already know probably from experience that crack is an equal opportunity abuser. Take careful note of the so called brown influx of people over the last 10-15 years.In the next 10-15 years you will belong to the minority race .

Posted by: faye_alice | March 25, 2010 12:08 AM | Report abuse


It is with love that I respond to your comments.
You have quoted scripture from the Holy Bible, which describe Love at it's very best.
However,the comments you made and suggested about our wonderful brother Tavis, are words of death. Additionally, your comments are in direct contradiction to 1Corinthians 13:4-8.

Therefore, I wanted to share with you, my concern with regard to your quote and mis-use of Holy Scripture used to attack our awesome, beloved brother in Christ Jesus.

The Holy Bible states and I quote, "When you have an ought against your brother go to him, Matthew 18:15-18"(not the internet).
Additionally, the Holy Bible goes on to state in the book of Luke 6:42 How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take ...You hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of your own eye, and then shall you see clearly to pull out the mote that is in your brother's eye. ... And what the mouth commonly speaks, generally agrees with what is most in the heart.

1 Timothy 5 (Amplified Bible) 13Moreover, as they go about from house to house, they learn to be idlers, and not only idlers, but gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not say and talking of things they should not mention.

Please be careful my sistah, what we sow we shall reap.
Please consider the words of Jesus, “You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart, with your whole soul, and with all your mind” (Deuteronomy 6:5). “This is the greatest and first commandment. The second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Leviticus 19:18).

Respectfully Submitted with Love,

Posted by: Aprayingsistah | March 24, 2010 11:08 PM | Report abuse

mysistagirl.. Based on your comments, it does not seem like you even watched Tavis' forum because it hardly resembled your description.

There were plenty of thoughtful comments and tangibel suggestions for not just the President and Government but also for the community to take on certain responsibilities that the politicians are unwilling and/or unable to take on.

Although I personally voted for President Obama and I wish him the best but I certainly don't agree with all of his polcies and approaches and it is down right absurd for any tax paying American to shy away from respectfully criticizing and even challenging him and any other politician who we put in office!

Perhaps your points would have a bit more merit if you provided a few quotes about what you disagreed with at the forum.

Posted by: J0nny | March 24, 2010 8:27 PM | Report abuse

Tavis is dillusional and he thinks that the AA community is too stupid to see thru his fiscade. He is so busy trying to raise a fit about what he believes the president has not done, that he completely neglects informing the community of what the president has done. When one of his panelists very astutely pointed out all of the bullet points from Tavis' covenant book that were already addressed or being addressed by this president, she was quickly dressed down by Tavis and another panelist, because they were'nt trying to hear that! Tavis' only response was to point out that he had invited reps from the presidents administration to attend. Well, whether they attend or not, if indeed operating in love, Tavis should be balanced enough to present the facts as they are and not just pounding from an unbalanced position.

Speaking of love, Tavis' forum made a mockery of the notion. Here is what my bible says about love:

Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It is not rude, it is not self-seeking.
It is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.
I Corinthians 13:4-8

There was no patience or kindness. There was plenty of envy and plenty of boasting. There was lots of rudness and self seeking, and the only record Tavis was interested in presenting was one of perceived wrongs. In other words, the spirit of that forum was completely antithetical to love. Tavis wouldn't know real love if it walked up and shook his hand!

Tavis is just another crab and black folks have his number. The jig is up Tavis!

Posted by: mysistagirl | March 24, 2010 7:56 PM | Report abuse

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