Genma Speaks

Entrepreneur/ Writer/ Radio-Host

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Tavis Smiley Sets Himself on Fire and Burns HIS Agenda

Filled with barely disguised negativity, Tavis Smiley broadcasted on Tuesday morning that he was calling a “choir rehearsal for Black Leaders” on the Tom Joyner Morning Show. When Tom Joyner first announced last week that special commentary from Tavis Smiley would replace Jeff Johnson, my immediate thought was, “This is going to be a hot mess whatever it is”. Tom tried to build excitement about the Tavis Smiley’s upcoming commentary, by counting down to the segment. Tow Joyner was excited.But I am sure Tom Joyner had no idea that Tavis would use his show to set off a firestorm in the Black community. Tavis Smiley did not disappoint; he came with mess and mayhem.

When Tavis Smiley came on the air he barely acknowledged the morning crew and said “Let’s jump right into this”. And that he did. He opened with quotes from one of our country’s greatest leaders, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“I choose to identify with the underprivileged. I choose to identify with the poor. I choose to give my life for the hungry. I choose to give my life for those who have been left out of the sunlight of opportunity. This is the way I’m going. If it means suffering a little bit, I’m going that way. If it means dying for them, I’m going that way. Because I heard a voice saying, ‘Do something for others.’”

The words of the greatest American we’ve ever produced, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., talking about the choice he made not just, Tom, to identify with, but to give his life for the least among us; the politically, socially, economically disenfranchised in America.

Last year, in researching Tavis Smiley’s relationship with Wells Fargo, I know all too well when he starts out with a quote from Dr. King, it is usually a setup for a manifesto about Tavis Smiley and what he believes is righteous indignation. Once again, he did not reflect the heart of Dr. King or actions Dr. King would have taken. Instead, Tavis Smiley should be paying royalties to the King Foundation for the constant misuse of Dr. King’s image and words.

In 2009, I wrote in several posts how Tavis Smiley loves to sprinkle biblical scriptures/references in his oratorical presentations. He sounds spiritual and gives you the impression that he is a shepherd of the flock who wants to give gentle loving nudging to his “sheeple”. On Tuesday, he kept his tilted, tainted halo on as he stated the following words:

“Must Jesus bear the cross alone and all the world go free? No, there’s a cross for everyone and there’s a cross for me.”

Some of us, who call ourselves Black leaders are making the wrong choice. I’m afraid this morning, Tom, that in so doing, we are misleading, misguiding, Black folk. It’s time for a course correction, not now, but right now. Because leadership without followership is a sinkin’ ship.

The above quotes were Tavis’s opening statements. He only got better or worse depending on if you were laughing or crying. In all the years that I have heard real leaders speak, I have never heard the word “followership”. I have attended events around the globe and spoken at hundreds of conferences, seminars, on panels, and in sessions and I don’t recall anyone using a rarely used word to fool the gullible by trying to sound like an intelligent leader. A leader leads; he does not have to try to sound like a leader if he is a leader.

Tavis Smiley told 12 million listeners he was having an event to call out leaders who do not understand the importance of the “Black Agenda”. My parents must have missed that one when I was born. Not one doctor or nurse put that in my diaper bag when they sent me home; raise your child with a Black Agenda. What is the Black Agenda? Jobs for the unemployed? Homes for the homeless? Education? That is part of getting America back on the road to recovery. That is everyone’s agenda. Geez, when are folks are going to stop being idiots with mics and get people back to work.

Are things harder on some than on others? Yes, I totally agree with that. But as I said last week when meet and greets are called to make demands and commands, often times it is photo ops and not about helping the community. Black folks do not need another conference to state what is wrong with black folks. What is needed is community mind folks (of all races) working with like minded folks (of all races) to bring job opportunities, raising testing scores in schools to help get more kids in college, dealing with credit issues that obstruct better insurance rates and home ownership…the list is endless. But I can go into the Hispanic community and they are saying the exact same thing.

The good thing about Tavis Smiley’s latest media-defacto, it engulfed him in flames and burned HIS agenda. People have rejected his antics and took to the blogs and radio to speak up. Rev. Sharpton who Tavis has palled around with in the past called into the Tom Joyner Morning Show right after Tavis’s rambling diatribe where he announced the time, date, and panelists scheduled to attend the meeting. Sharpton was not aware of the meeting and heard the invite via the radio. Tavis Smiley had not called many of scheduled “leaders” personally to come to this meeting. I was sitting at my desk heaving from laughing so hard. Tavis Smiley is so full of himself; he really thought people would show up because he was on the radio announcing the resurrection of his Negro Super Bowl. It only got uglier by the minute; the parting shot by Sharpton was Tavis Smiley did not have this urgency to call out President Clinton and black leaders before while Tavis was dancing on stage with the Clintons. LAWD…you just can’t make this stuff up!

Well now… this is not over and I am sure others are going to have a few more words to say as well. Here’s one of similar posts over at

Whenever anyone disagrees with you; if they’re men, you try to shame them. If they’re women, you try to have them fired off their jobs. You sure as hell don’t give them a platform from which to preach the truth, which you don’t like, because most of it is about you hawking another damned book, and saying it’s to help Black People.

Stop acting like a community leader that you play on TV, and be the self-promoting marketeer you really are. Your attempt to pass yourself off as a “Black Leader” has worn off and just like the Emperor, you don’t have any clothes on.

It must really hard trying to sell books in this economy while posing as a community activist. Y’all this has been the longest black history month in years. See you in March.


raciplace said...

This blog articulate exactly what I had been thinking about him and his efforts.

tobunique said...

What a complete waste of time. Great commentary Ms. Holmes. Sad for over 100 years and still we shuck. God bless you.

Cheri Paris Edwards said...

Great Post...

I can tell you are not part of Tavist's "follower-ship". Ha! The so-called black leadership like Tavist clearly are unwilling to give up these weighty titles of leadership that given to themselves. This situation demonstrates how like teenagers they are-- creating drama and having "get-togethers" and then fading into the background whenever it's time to WORK. Plus, we regular folks, who are not as smart as them are not supposed to note the free publicity they give to themselves when they hold these meetings. In reality, like too many who consider themselves leaders-- they are actually profiting off the misery of those they claim to be standing "in the gap" for.

Tavist better quit invoking Jesus' name though. It's a misrepresentation and God don't like ugly...


Mildred and James Walters said...

You are right on target with this one, too. I agree whole-heartedly. We keep having town hall meetings and panel discussions. Meanwhile millions of Americans, black, white, latino and every other ethnicity are suffering in this down economy. I want our "leaders" to be held accountable. They need to produce results. We need to see metrics. As a result of these town hall meetings, how many more people are able to keep their homes, feed their families, educate their children?

Emerge Peoria said...

You said it Cheri Paris Edwards. Tavist is a fool who has gotten by for far too long on community reinvestment dollars. It is past time for him to be obsolete.

Monica said...

Have you ever thought of running for office?

Genmaspeaks said...

@ Monica
Absolutely NOT!

Blog Design Created by pipdig