Sunday, September 08, 2013
An Open Letter to Tavis Smiley
Dear Tavis Smiley:
This letter is long overdue. I want to say that I have been an admirer of you and what you have stood for in the Black community for as long as I can remember. I was a huge admirer of the annual State of the Black Union Addresses in which you created as a venue to get our voices and issues heard nationally and politically. On that show, you created a forum/platform that showcased African-centered scholars and Black political elite who otherwise were rarely, if ever featured in mainstream media outlets. I want to say that I have always appreciated your outspokenness and your willingness to speak the truth to us, whether we liked it or not. You always understood that WE NEEDED IT! I appreciate you being the exact image of a strong, intelligent, dignified, educated, articulate, business owning Black man that so many Black women all over the country instill in their sons to be like as they grow into men.
I want to also say thank you for continuing to be a leader and not a follower. I am very disappointed at the negative reactions/retaliations you have received for merely doing what is supposed to be done with any elected political official and this includes president of the United States, which is to present your community and/or political itemized agenda. Since Obama has been president, the Jewish community, the Hispanic/Latino community, and the Homosexual community have all done just this and without any negative backlash. The president heard their agenda and he acted on them. However, when you and Dr. West attempted to push one of the late Dr. Martin Luther King’s agenda concerning the poor in our nation, you both received ugly and unwarranted backlash from the Black community at large as well as from some of the same so-called Civil Rights leaders who were regulars at you union addresses.
I was really bothered by the way you unceremoniously left the Tom Joyner Morning Show. I hated hearing about the negative backlash you received on that show all because many of his listeners felt that you were not being fair to the president because you offered him the very same challenges that those previously mentioned racial/ethnic groups offered him. I want to say that I believe in what you are doing. I am disappointed in the hypocrisy and what appears to be this purposeful choice in the black community to treat the president like a beloved celebrity instead of the President of the United States.
I will close by saying keep up the good work. You were there helping, encouraging, and educating in the black community long before this president and you will be here long after this presidency is over. Thank you for not saying, “To hell with this!” If you have, I don't blame you.
A longtime admirer and supporter.
Marico Rivers, MSW-LCDC