Friday, April 11, 2008
by Dr. Boyce Watkins
Tavis Smiley just left the Tom Joyner Morning Show. If I said I was surprised, I’d be lying. The truth is that I wondered why Tavis’ days were not numbered from the jump, because his strong commentary wasn’t quite a fit for the style of The Tom Joyner Morning Show. Black people don’t mind black people being controversial, as long as the controversy only makes white people mad.
The Tom Joyner Morning Show is about being popular. That is what keeps the sponsorship money coming in, and that’s what keeps people bopping their heads to Kool & the Gang and going on your Fantastic Voyage cruise every year. Tom Joyner and Tavis worked together to make black people laugh, cry and think; the show was always fun.
But then Barack Obama showed up and Tavis Smiley suddenly appeared to be a hater.
I don’t know if Tavis Smiley is an official Barack Obama hater, I am not so quick to issue Advanced Playerhaterology Certification. But he certainly sounded like a guy with a grudge. Seeing one strong and popular brother turn his vocal gun onto another powerful brother just made black people sick. Tom Joyner doesn’t make money when black people get sick.
What is most disturbing is that reading between the lines led many African-Americans to feel that Tavis Smiley’s love for Hillary Clinton, in conjunction with his disdain for Senator Obama, was a function of Ms. Daisy having paid off the help to get some extra support. This is not to imply that Hillary paid Tavis, but there was certainly quite a bit of asymmetry in the way Tavis dealt with Hillary vs. Barack.
Having the backing of Black America is one thing. But being too boastful about it and assuming that you control the minds of millions of people is a dangerous game. Tavis sounded no different from a man grabbing his girlfriend by the arm and telling another male suitor, “This is my woman….I own all of thisssssssss…..”
No woman would want to hear those words coming out of her man’s mouth, and neither does Black America. The public ass whooping that our readers put on Tavis after the Obama situation would have put the Michael Vick trial to shame. I honestly felt sorry for Tavis.
I don’t hate Tavis, I actually respect him. But all indicators say that he hates me. That’s why I am no good at this social commentary game: you give one small critique and people think you hate their guts. Either way, I am going to keep telling the truth, since that’s one thing I do well.
VIDEO: TAVIS SMILEY LEAVES THE TOM JOYNER MORNING SHOW