tavis smiley (2010)*Dear Mr. Smiley,

I have admired you immensely as a positive force in the Black community and a consummate professional among your peers.  That subtle Gulfport, Mississippi accent blends well with your fine tuned delivery and your manicured decorum.

Since President Obama convincingly earned his residency at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, there’s been a self-assigned modification in your publicized causes and their effects.  It’s no secret that this rift presumably developed shortly after the then Senator from Illinois’ was unable to attend your then annual State of the Black Union in 2009.

Still a staunch supporter of now President Obama, I remain puzzled about how two bright, young African American men, having the talent and connections to be super stars within their respective community and country, could deviate from what seemed to be a symmetrical course.  I know where the President is going; I am not sure about you?

Just recently Chris Matthews, during the “Let Me Finish” segment of his program on MSNBC shed some light on what the hating the President is about.  For all of his post Presidential accomplishments, Obama still cannot earn due props from many of his adversaries, in large part because of his race.  Yes, I said it and you should know it, as well.  That disturbed mentality is so embedded in the disdainful spirits of so many that they will never applaud him, no matter how monumental his accomplishments are.  Why?  He’s smart, gracious, attentive, strategic, reflective, empathetic, engaging and quite political.  I guess that’s not quite enough because, by preconceived standards, he just doesn’t look the part.

So what’s this got to do with you?  A lot.  Prior to the next President’s “no show decision” for your forum due to a previous campaign agenda schedule, you seem to have precluded that you should be the apparent choice for the direct link of President Bush’s replacement to the African American populace?  A reminder:  Barack Obama was running for President of the United States, and, not the head of the Urban League, no disrespect intended.  This new President brought a new kind of “A game” to the Beltway … one that you had not played before.

You, Tavis, have made it a racial rift, albeit convoluted. Your crusade aka “The Poverty Tour 2.0″ to demonstrate that the President has abandoned the issues minorities and poor people, ironically, has had very little success.   In part, I would suggest it was more because of an attempt to show up Obama and play off the needs of the less fortunate.

Instead of accepting the fate that you deemed for yourself, you and your cohort, Cornel West, have become the exponential poster models of modern day “Heckle and Jeckle,” the cynical and antagonistic cartoon magpies whose wit and chicanery often backfired when attempting to dupe their adversaries.  You would be wise to implement by actions, and not by words alone, a slogan that your partner uses frequently: “You can’t save the people if you can’t serve the people.”

You and your incendiary, yet befuddled, para-academic partner have fused the necessary components for this perfect oxymoronic storm of race and the discord it precipitates. You are a Black man blowing clichés and inconsistencies in the wind about a man who you call “brother,” while finding so many ways to exude envy, anger and hypocrisy towards him that he really emerges as your nemesis. Your criticisms are weakened by your personal animus.  Unfortunately, the family metaphor reminds me of dysfunctional families that attack their kinship because they are successful. Clinicians would call it sibling rivalry; I would say it’s immaturity and you should grow up and get over it!

Chris Jones
A Concerned United States Citizen
Los Angeles, CA.

Chris Jones, a native New Yorker residing in Los Angeles has written consistently about his observations of ethics and culture in the urban community. A political science enthusiast and staunch supporter of voter registration, his professional background includes senior level appointments for promotion and marketing responsibilities at Island, Motown and Warner Bros record companies, respectively. Response to his commentary can be forwarded to: chrisensus7@gmail.com.

chris jones

Chris Jones