Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Good, the Bad and the Atrocious of the Tavis Smiley Forum on Obama

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

Yesterday, I rushed through the snow to do an interview with NPR's "Talk of the Nation" to discuss President Barack Obama's agenda for 2011 and the issues that matter most to black people. At the top of my brain was the old adage, "It's the economy stupid." So, fitting with my role as a Finance Professor, I led the interview off with financial topics, because it is my opinion that the country can benefit from more audible voices that work to portray the depth of black economic suffering.

I also noticed that someone I don't always agree with, Tavis Smiley, said something similar. In a recent interview with, Smiley went deep on the fact that black economic problems have been rarely addressed by our elected officials and that our community may need to find ways to amplify its voice. Georgetown University Professor Michael Eric Dyson even went as far as giving President Barack Obama a C- on how he deals with black issues. All of this has been interesting to watch, particularly in light of how President Obama's rise to power has created a peculiar divide within pre-existing African American "leadership." The infamous on-air brawl between Rev. Al Sharpton and Tavis Smiley is a perfect case-in-point.


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