You’re So Lame Award of Shame: Cornel West Meet Uncle Ruckus

I can’t keep giving them out to angry and violent white men, but that does give me an idea for an “Angry White Man Award of the Week”. That will just get boring though. So….Dr. West gets the honors this week. Though he should be sharing it with Smiley and Dyson – which I’ll get into below. This is for his penchant for wanting to spend time in the Crack House vs. the White House as per his statement via TWIB

“That’s not my calling. Yeah, brother, you find me in a crack house before you find me in the White House. I’ll go into the crack house before I ever go that far inside.


Is this what an Ivy-League education produces….and reproduces? Like when does he actually travel without a car service and what does he know about standing on the corner in the ‘hood? He’d rather immerse himself in a dangerous environment with people caught in the demonic throws of drug addiction instead of speaking to the President about possibly doing something that would eliminate the need for a crack house to exist?


This is why I was gently admonished by a reader for lamenting about why some Black female bloggers can’t come to a consensus. Unless it’s for some external cause like fighting the great white oppression many of us have absolutely nothing in common and we shouldn’t expect to. 

So he, Michael Eric Dyson and Tavis Smiley, whom I’ll dub the “Triumvirate of Ego & Stupidity” keep harping on the President for the sake of being argumentative – not for any serious policy discussion. Just. Walk. Away. It’s more pseudo-intelligentsia childish temper tantrums. I have yet to see any of these men spearhead one major campaign where they support or defend Black women on any issues of importance. They are the flip side of Reverend Co. (you know Sharpton, Jackson, et al) who have never met a Black male criminal they won’t defend or rubber chicken dinner with money left under the plate they won’t attend. Perhaps I’m being extra hard on Jackson, Sr. 

No…don’t think so!

Dr. Melissa Harris Lacewell took them to task for this last week in her piece, Don’t Hold Obama Accountable to a Race Agenda” where she says:
On May 24, TV One aired the latest installment of Smiley’s accountability campaign: a two-hour documentary titled “Stand.” Recycling Spike Lee’s Million Man March film, “Get On the Bus,” Smiley assembled a group of prominent black male public figures for a bus ride through the South.

Ostensibly, this bus trip would provide Smiley, professors Cornel West and Michael Eric Dyson, Dick Gregory and others an opportunity to reflect on the meaningful upheavals in American society and politics in the summer of 2008. “Stand” was an enormous disappointment.

Its low production value, wandering narrative, flat history and self-important egoism did little to reveal the shortcomings of the Obama phenomenon. Instead, the piece exposed and embodied the contemporary crisis of the black public intellectual in the age of Obama.

The film and its participants (two of them my senior colleagues at Princeton University) appropriated the legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. to implicitly claim that they, not Obama, are the authentic representatives of the political interests of African-Americans. They used King’s images and speeches, gathered on the balcony where King was assassinated, and explicitly asserted their desire to play King to Obama’s LBJ, and Frederick Douglass to Obama’s Lincoln.



We’ve got a serious domestic terrorism problem brewing where a few angry white men are going to Set It Off and this is all these “esteemed” men can talk about? Perhaps that’s the point. If they keep saying these childish and foolish things we’ll keep talking about them. Not Obama. Which is just they way they’d like it. For that – they get the SLAP!!!!
By the way I’ve got one major policy issue that’s open for discussion right now: DOMA!
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Prince Speaks On Being Bullied & Getting Support

This is a preview of the must-see interview with Prince that airs Monday & Tuesday on the Tavis Smiley Show. Yeah we have issues with Mr. Smiley and his penchant for lashing out at Black female journalists who critique his State of the Black Union, but it is what it is. Prince as always rocks the high-heels!! When he shares this story I can’t help but think about the rash of young kids who are suicidal because of the abuse they suffer for a myriad of reasons. I wish they had an outlet to escape to for relief. Check your local listing for air times. 

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Tavis Needs A Better Cheerleader

I hope Krissah Thompson has learned the meaning of the word reciprocity. For all her sticking her neck out and taking professional hits that have left her credibility questioned over her not-so-secret ‘promote Tavis Smiley article’ from last week, she lost a golden opportunity for serious and thoughtful commentary. In Blacks At Odds Over Scrutiny of President the question asked is whether Blacks place race loyalty over legitimate criticism of the President. 
Her first mistake was in frequenting blogs that those who saw this article read. So we knew her to be misrepresenting those blogger/activists featured from the very beginning. After it has been revealed that she’s lifted writings from other blogs, where the blog host specifically restricts access to copying content, Ms. Thompson just looks like a plagiarizer as well. So she already had the side eye from me before I even read this latest….work. Is it a fluff piece, prop piece or garbage liner as suggested by one of the bloggers who was misrepresented?
The title of the article is a legitimate question though that begs to be evaluated. Per the article:

As the nation’s first black president settles into the office, a division is deepening between two groups of African Americans: those who want to continue to praise Obama and his historic ascendancy, and those who want to examine him more critically now that the election is over.

Unfortunately Ms. Thompson never discusses the topic of the article and instead circumvents it. She continues on to cover Tavis Smiley and his book and how he has been (rightfully) lambasted for his obvious bias. She mentions the work of other bloggers/journalists/activists in an attempt to push them to be just as critical of the President as Smiley has been. Except Smiley’s criticisms have largely been without merit, without specifics and are woefully one-sided. Arguing for the sake of arguing is just as foolish as blindly acquiescing to anything the President does.
I can’t recall any high-profile opposition positions being levied against the Clinton or Bush administrations. Do you? Also Smiley has a huge conflict of interest with his corporate ties to companies that routinely exploit Blacks. His State of the Union event while somewhat entertaining for its cast of characters jockeying for tv time, is woefully ineffective in leading to any long-term change in the communities (such that they are) he claims to be serving. I mean after 10 years if you have nothing to show for your efforts, you can’t be doing much. 
So although many people may have read the article, it has been widely panned. There are many Blacks that are wearing Obama blinders who don’t want to hear anybody talking bad about their “baby”. It’s the same mentality that cripples any progress at rooting out the criminal elements in many residential areas and addressing police brutality and railroading. It’s why conflicts over innocent Black men getting shot are conflated by guilty criminals shooting the police. It’s why the focus is too rigid by not including the sheer violence that Black girls and women have to face at the hands of those Black men remaining in those neighborhoods. Or the Black men killing each other as well. 
We need political free agency to be able wield power effectively. Being a professional contrarian is not the way to go even if the short-term payoff seems worth it. That’s not real power: it’s paternalistic reliance on others to reward us for being “different”. That reward can be given….and taken away. We can’t demand accountability from others for standards that we’re not willing to hold ourselves to. We haven’t defined who our allies are nor identified our enemies. 
We haven’t built solid enough coalitions that can withstand a battering. We don’t have consequences at the ready for a “betrayal”. We’re not prepared for the fact that our President is a politician first and foremost. There is no “race” loyalty or “fairness doctrine” and to expect Obama to offer that to a group of people whose very loyalty is questionable at best is just crazy. Remember the majority of Blacks didn’t support Obama until after whites gave their seal of approval. That’s not thinking out the box. Now to try to claim him as “one of our own” (whatever that’s supposed to mean) looks very silly. If we think we’ve arrived we’re in for a rude awakening. We’ve not crossed the finish line and are barely in the race quite frankly and failure to realize that is the biggest travesty.

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State of the Black Union 2009 Afternoon Recap

Here’s the 2nd segment.
I forgot how long these conferences are! I was sending lots of updates to Twitter and gained a few new followers in the process – thanks! So I focused on those delivering the messages but I should also comment about the host and the event itself. So Tavis Smiley’s been doing this for 10 years: hawking a new book and about to embark on a tour, talking about a “Black agenda” with no tangible coalition and no evaluation for participation. If you don’t vet those you seek to join your “covenant” how can you guarantee some modicum for success? I don’t think Smiley is a complete idiot (but perhaps he is) so I can only deduce he is using an event where he stirs the emotions of people to persuade them to buy the products he’s selling and to lend him an air of legitimacy based on his proximity to a certain group of Blacks part of the pseudo-intelligentsia crowd. Those who are serious about promoting an agenda to raise consciousness amongst the sheep mentality are usually not invited to participate – or if they offer a dissenting voice aren’t invited back. The main interest is in getting people to vent and feeling good about it but not taking any long-term steps for empowerment.
Accountable: Making America as Good as Its Promise
He deserves legit criticism of his motives for doing these events, feeding from the trough of corporate sponsors who do harm to Blacks and the requirement that all attendees fill out an extensive series of forms for market research purposes that nets him a lot of money. So one might question how a person has a panel of prominent Blacks talking about Black empowerment when he’s doing what he can to control it and undermine it at the expense of other Blacks. Yeah it’s pretty twisted. He also got a lot of flack for his overreaching criticism of Obama that he has never extended to Bush or either Clinton. 
He also insulted a host of bloggers who are interested in empowering Blacks by trying to design a blogging contest where the blogger had to jump through a lot of hoops only to be picked out of a hat by the sponsor in the end. So why do we watch? Train wrecks are always interesting! Sometimes a panelist will offer jewels of wisdom (not just pearls, but diamonds/rubies/the whole nine). Like Randall Robinson (1:25 thru 1:42 in particular) who very clearly laid out the Clinton policies enacted during his terms that not only caused harm to Blacks but how the US enacts policies that are anti-children, anti-women, anti-environment and oppose human rights. Also Erica Williams (around 1:50) from the think tank Center for American Progress is one to watch and a policy advocate. Van Jones follows who spoke about preparing for a green (environmental and monetary) economy. Karen Bass discusses how the state of California spends more on prisons than education! I wish she’d run for Governor!! It was good stuff!
LosAngelista did an entire series of posts live from the LA Convention Center. CPL at Jack & Jill wrote 2 great posts that were open threads…of criticism! HA! Feel free to check them out.
Los Angeles Mayor Villaraigosa made a point that Blacks should really take notice of. He said we were here due to Civil Rights and due to the Voting Rights Act. Thanks to those that sacrificed foreign immigration opened up for other non-whites as a result. He may have been trying to lump all of us together as a collective mutli-ethnic “we”, but to me the “we” isn’t us! Blacks had better start thinking about this more instead of blindly adopting the 3 Musketeers mantra without checking for flying objects first.  Tom Bradley as Mayor of LA being a “first” at one time is a part of our history but if people rely on past endeavors, fall by the wayside and are supplanted by those who come here by choice then it’s really our fault. Nobody’s going to wait for Blacks to catch up and get it together. 
By Blacks I’m talking about those of us descended from the slaves who built this country. Not every Black person who’s in this country falls into that category or has an agenda that would be of benefit to the masses. Rev. Al was on the panel claiming Civil Rights was about seeking equality. Since when? You can’t have equality by excluding the contributions of the Black women that sacrificed themselves for the “cause”. If equality was the goal then it was an utter failure because we are back to being segregated with a lot of lip service. 40 years later there’s a Black President but he got elected by pretending to be indifferent to Blacks so that whites felt more comfortable! Since when does being the girlfriend hidden in the basement equal a love match? Did you know the UK census has three categories for Blacks: African, Carribean and Other
My other criticism is the fake religiosity, the deliberate exclusion of LGBT voices (and not just adding one gay male to a panel and calling it a day either), the inclusion and recognition of Blacks from different class structures and ignoring the fact that many people are poor and had no representation. The bloggers he kept touting were basically corporate hacks and those who don’t really do any community outreach or have a significant following that I’m aware of. It was a wasted opportunity. 
There was also NO discussion by medical professionals (that one quasi educator doesn’t count) about the rampant spread of HIV and STIs amongst Black women with a serious discussion as to WHY IT’S HAPPENING or an agenda of how it’s going to be fought. There is NEVER any discussion about the rate of out of wedlock births and why so many Black women and children have been abandoned nor of the high abortion rates that exist disproportionately with Black women. There has never been any discussion about the prevalence of sexual intimidation, molestation and rape by Black men and the violence in residential areas either. 
I had to add a personal shout-out to Maxine Waters for taking Wells Fargo to task and who cares they were a sponsor? Is Tavis going to disinvite her now? They got our tax money AND a tax break for underwriting the event so boo-hoo poor corporate entity. Did that make Smiley’s cut a little bit smaller? How much do you get for kicking people when they’re down?
These issues are of course a microcosm for every other problem in the society as we try to navigate through the personal and political. I thought it was important to cover though because Blacks have an opportunity to step out of the box and create our own separate but just as valid spaces and bring as many along as we can. We don’t need self-appointed leadership who wants to keep things ‘business as usual’ where they prosper at our expense. We have a global audience now.  
Whites who are either “guilty” or “angry” are watching what we’re doing collectively – in silence but with scrutiny.  

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State Of the Black Union 2009 Morning Recap

Here’s the video from C-Span of the 1st session with my comments to follow below:
You do have to watch the video because some of the panelists were simply amazing! They are also talking specifics of how we can take steps to hold officials accountable AND to make sure we get our portions of the stimulus $$$. It’s worth the time!!!
Iyanla Vanzant  (2:00-2:15 on the video) gets the gold star of the first session (Michael Eric Dyson gets a shout out as well). She has a book titled Acts of Faith. There are quite a few authors who use this as the title of their books. I realize there’s a bit of religious connotation that may cause some people to pause when they see the title of my blog, but that’s what an individual brings by assuming something has a particular meaning. When I was thinking about what to name it I was going in a completely different direction but the title jumped out at me. 
My name is Faith and yes there’s a story involving a religious epiphany where my grandmother declared that was to be my name. Believe me I have in fact struggled my entire life to live up to my name and what faith symbolizes. I’ve always thought God (Universe/Great Mother) has a wonderful sense of humor. I also think from the perspective of Black Americans and our traditional religious traditions that we’ve always been called far beyond our comfort levels and it’s been up to us to take steps into a greater destiny than one we may envision for ourselves. 
This was really about me declaring my own journey and one that I wanted people to undertake. How do you define taking risks, striving to live outside the box of expectations and finding your voice? It’s an act of faith (belief). It’s believing in yourself and your purpose and that YOU have validity. It’s a declaration of your independence from the shackles of society, your family or any who’d put limitations on your person by telling you that you’re less than – even if it’s YOU. So that’s why I named this blog Acts of Faith…In Love and Life. If we don’t give back to the world we will be less than what we were meant to be. If we don’t think we can, we never will.
So this year’s SOBU is very important in continuing that dialog of what Black people are going to do now that there’s a Black President. If he believed, strategized, sought out allies and put the work into his life to get himself to this position and he’s not even the best what does that say about us as individuals and the “Black collective”? This is no swipe at #44 either. He did his best, but he’s not the be all end all of what we can achieve. So 2009 should be a continuation of our journey and hopefully the start of an effective coalition where people work together and where individuals really fly.
There’s a Twitter Feed of Posts using hashtags #SOBU2009 #STOBU as well

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M.I.A. Interview Must See

As long as Tavis Smiley sticks to his interesting interview choices he’s alright. When he tries to make celebrities out of bloggers or dictate the movement of political candidates is where things go off the rails. Here’s proof you can be female, a hip-hop artist, have bangin’ beats without the misogyny and materialism. You can be an artist that doesn’t shy away from serious political commentary and your lyrics can have deep meaning. You don’t have to be relegated to the underground or unknown status either. You can also be a mommy! Oh and you can also put on a rockin’ live show!! 
Video for Paper Planes with lyrics here.
Bucky Done Gone
It still gives me pause to repeat lyrics about soldiers knocking down the walls to your house to kill you while nodding my head to a good beat. 

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