by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse University – Scholarship in Action
For all of those who were once concerned about Tavis Smiley ending his much-respected State of the Black Union gathering every year, you no longer have any reason to worry: “The great” Juan Williams from Fox News is now going to take his place.
Well, Juan isn’t exactly replicating the State of the Black Union. Actually, he is going to be one of two moderators for the State of Race Symposium being sponsored by the Aspen Institute. According to Charlie Firestone, Executive Director of the Community and Society Program at the institute, the appointment of Williams to the post was nothing short of a perfect “basketball bounce pass.”
Tavis Smiley has a problem. The problem is one that is rooted in egregious miscalculation, poor target selection and mild delusions of self-righteous grandeur. As Tavis plans his symposium this week to define the black agenda in America, most of us are wondering if it’s Smiley’s agenda that will be highest on the priority list. While Smiley presents himself as a consistent political figure who has held all politicians equally accountable, many view his gathering this weekend in Chicago as a Barack Obama bashing festival.
Let’s be clear: It’s not easy to objectively criticize President Obama when his approval ratings in the black community remain above 90 percent. At least half of my articles about Obama have been critical, and I always have to make sure that I am not haunted by the ghostly spirit of Obama-mania, which is just as bad as Obama-haterology. Dr. Julianne Malveaux and Rev. Jesse Jackson have done a very good job of holding Obama accountable in a way that does not appear to be driven by personal motivations or latent hostility. Tavis Smiley, however, can’t shake the perception that he has a personal vendetta against the president, for it is quite rare to see a prominent public figure so obsessed with the career of another person.
The Your Black World Coalition monitors the political mood of our supporters when it comes to issues that matter to African-Americans. With 60,000 African-American members nation-wide, we have the ability to put our fingers on the collective pulse of black America through various forms of statistical sampling. In our analysis, a few things remain abundantly clear: Most of our followers love Barack Obama (probably more than they should), and a large percentage of them, to be quite frank, can’t stand Tavis Smiley. What makes matters worse for Smiley is that many of those who refuse to buy his books were once loyal fans – meaning that he has engineered the double loss of turning many of his friends into enemies. This is enough to make any publishing house or corporate sponsor run in the other direction, undermining the power of the Tavis Smiley brand. With such a terrible approval rating, Smiley wouldn’t even be invited to sell predatory loans for Wells Fargo.
A long-simmering disagreement between broadcaster Tavis Smiley and Texas Southern University ended Friday when the university’s governing board agreed to strip Smiley’s name from its communication school.
Smiley promised in 2004 to donate $1 million and to raise another $1 million for TSU. The school later created the Tavis Smiley School of Communication in his honor.
In return, Smiley made one $50,000 donation in mid-2005 and raised $250,000 from three corporate donors.
But he said Friday that he had intended to fulfill his personal $1 million pledge.
“Any institution that turns away a $1 million gift in this economy, I think ought to have good reason for doing that,” he said in a telephone interview.
He also said former university President Priscilla Slade offered to name the school for him before he pledged any money.
“I even made a joke, how much is this decision going to cost me?” he said. “She said, ‘This decision has already been made.’”
“It doesn’t feel good,” he said of the board’s decision. “My intentions were to help the students.”
from AOL Black Voices
Did Tavis Smiley help Wells Fargo herd black people into subprime loans? Yes, according to information contained in a lawsuit filed recently by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. The suit alleges that Smiley was the hook used to draw in potential customers for subprime mortgages.
You might be familiar with the "Wealth Building" seminars that Wells Fargo conducted beginning in the year 2000. Smiley was the headline speaker at these events, held in Baltimore; Chicago; Richmond, Va.; and San Francisco. The seminars were advertised aggressively in black media and aimed directly at black communities. They were a huge success. Often, standing room only audiences would hear Smiley speak about how he mostly disliked banks while strongly urging attendees to invest in real estate as a sound strategy to build wealth. …