I know many of you on this board knew about the upcoming “America’s Next Chapter” fest being hosted by Tavis Smiley here in Washington, DC, and have already decided you’re not going to be bothered with watching it, or anything to do with Tavis Smiley. It’s already being whispered that this was another attempted hatefest masking as criticism of President Barack Obama – even as a couple of thousand made their way into Lisner Auditorium at George Washington University, through snow, slush and bitter cold.
CPL was there – and I have a surprise for you – somewhat, because from the patdown at the door (security) and requesting my media credentials, I was still ready to give Tavis a fair shake, until, as I said, I went to the press people to ask for my media credentials.
I was waylaid by some Amazon, high yellow homegirl who I didn’t bother to get her name because she apparently was on the lookout for yours truly. And probably at the direction of her boss, Tavis Smiley. I knew pettiness is one of Tavis’ characteristics, but he tends to direct it at Black Women (Yeah, I said it). First, she asked if I had posted a FP post about the conference call Tavis had with us Black and Brown Bloggers last week (I didn’t). Then she went and got a blackberry where she proceeded to pull up one of my comments to Town about the upcoming event and I’d mentioned I had been on a conference call to Tavis, who yelled and screamed at me that I needed to watch previous States of the Black Union where he insisted he called out Clinton on the growth of the prison industrial complex, the cocaine sentencing and what else, just because I asked the question on the conference call:
“I’ve attended previous SOBUs and you’re asking for this current POTUS to be held accountable when you haven’t done this in the previous SOBUs – why is that?”
What is the phrase, “A hit dog always hollers”? Instead of a calm response to that question, Tavis proceeded to erupt like Mount St. Helens – then put this girl on the watch for me at last night’s event, who proceeded to grill me like I was a criminal and asked “If you wrote something negative about Mr. Smiley, why are you here at this event?”
Does that child think everyone there didn’t have similar, ahem, “negative” thoughts, or written “negative” things about “Mr. Smiley”, but would give him the benefit of the doubt and attend his “fests” anyway? Because if I’m going to say anything, I like to be on the scene, so I’m not accused of making shyt up.
Readers of this blog – she pulled a George Bush – screening and grilling me like they did Cindy Sheehan before tossing her out of Bush’s last State of the Union Address because she wore a t-shirt protesting the war her son had been killed in.
Girlfriend REFUSED to give me my credentials until I answered her question. I looked at her and said, “Your boss didn’t answer my question, and I’m not going to stand here arguing with you. He yelled at me on that conference call – look if you’re not going to give me my credentials, say so, and I’ll go back and sit down.”
I said nothing more, and she proceeded to give me my media pass, but not before insisting on escorting me to the bloggers’ section, where I already was sitting because I had already BEEN CLEARED.
I share this experience because that exchange really was about to color my already dismal opinion of Tavis, as well as not give the event an objective viewing. I’m human, and I reminded myself it wasn’t about me, but covering the event for JJP.
Such is the life of a blogger, I expect. But in case anyone on Team Tavis tries to deny this interrogation went down, two brothas who witnessed that exchange in a public lobby, immediately handed me their business cards, and others passing by commented “Same ole Tavis – wants to dish out criticism, but can’t take it. Who do you blog for?”
“Jack and Jill Politics”, I replied.
“Ah, shyt, it’s on and poppin’ now. That girl should know better – you don’t treat members of the press the way she treated you, even if they disagree with you. And messing with a blogger from JJP? Y’all sure as hell don’t play. Here’s my card, we want to talk with you and interview you about that exchange…”
Anyway, I got that off my chest – you decide, dear Readers.
When I returned to my seat, a mature sista who has seen the Civil Rights movement, Martin’s Legacy and everything else, came in and sat behind me, murmuring:
“I don’t know why Tavis is holding this – this is just another attempt to bash Barack Obama.”
In fact, that was the sentiment of everyone in my section – I heard those comments all night.
But, the surprise came in that, like the last attempted “hatefest”, the panelists weren’t inclined to bash Obama, so, once again, Tavis was DENIED his bitchfest. Another blogger and his girl, who were sitting next to me, said, “This isn’t about having a conversation and reaching solutions; it’s about hating on Barack Obama.”
If I had a dollar for every time I heard that comment last night, I wouldn’t be waiting for my unemployment check.
The panelist lineup, I won’t repeat, so I’ll get to the pleasant surprises and quotes.
I think Cornel West was more on his game than I’ve ever seen him. When asked about restoring America to her “greatness”, Dr. West essentially said the way America was developed – on the backs of slaves and other People of Color, without any credit or gratitude; America HAS NEVER BEEN GREAT. And he kept invoking “Martin’s legacy” all night, reminding all of us what Dr. King stood for, and the magnitude of Dr. King’s greatness and strength to love the unlovable.
Someone should tell Maria Bartiromo that she should not try to front an intellectual like Cornel West – she tried to come right behind him and protest that America was great – then West proceeded to make her drink a can of STHU once he invoked how the MSM tries to minimize the terrorism Black people have endured for more than 400 years.
Arianna Huffington had the best quips and comments, but I have to call her out on trying to make light of Christina Taylor Green: “She is but one nine-year old – what about those nine-year olds who are still living and should have the opportunities to an education and everything else nine-year olds need?”
I got the sentiment, but it could have been worded without referencing Christina – to me, that little girl’s death is the main symbol of homegrown terrorism in America and blowhards like Rush, Glenda and O’Falafel Man – words do have consequences. The fact they’re trying to minimize and distance themselves from this shark that they clearly have jumped with their hateful rhetoric – no one should let them off that easy.
Maria Teresa Kumar was good at pointing out how “the middle class is not used to being poor and the wealthy are not used to being middle class”, and she repeatedly had to help Cornel West in checking Dana Milbank and David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network. I will give Brody credit – he was honest when he said two things that almost got him booed off the stage:
(1) He’s attended Tea Party rallies and saw no evidence of racism. Cornel West replied, “that’s not unusual, since there were no POCs in the room”. Broder tried to counter Dr. West’s comment by saying there was Tim Scott, the newest ReThug member of Congress who refused to join the Congressional Black Caucus, who had a Tea Bag rally and everyone in the room loved him.
The chant from the blogger’s section “Everyone loves a House Negro!”
(2) The highlight of the Obama Administration for Black People was the “Beer Summit” between Skip “I have 58% white DNA” Gates and the Cambridge Police Officer who arrested him for breaking into his own house.
Even Tavis had to call Mr. Brody on that and was forced to name other highlights of the Obama Administration, such as the legislation that Mr. Obama got passed. Really, I think Brody came in thinking because he’s from the Christian Broadcasting Network, he could go all “moral” on us Black people (which was the majority of the audience) as well as minimize our experiences with hatred and vitrol.
Word to Christian Broadcasting Network – if you want POC to stop complaining about racism and bigotry, you could do us all a favor and quit trying to MINIMIZE OUR EXPERIENCES. We don’t minimize YOUR EXPERIENCES – in fact, YOU WON’T ALLOW IT.
Mr. John Chin is a nice guy – he runs Sybase out in Silicon Valley, and I liked his positions on the attitude America has towards educating their children, and he also pointed out the anti-Chinese sentiment regarding doing business with competing countries like China. Mostly, he pointed out that Americans are spending the money to educate their kids, but not getting results, and that the fault lay more with the parents than the educators.
I may not always agree with Arianna Huffington, but when she makes salient points, I giver her props for it. Key statements she made was the fact that the system of government in America is broken, dysfunctional and elected officials are only concerned about getting re-elected, fundraising, and appeasing lobbyists. “Too big to fail” = “Too connected to fail” and I had to agree with her about the POTUS wisdom in keeping Geithner at Treasury, and listening to Larry Summers at Hah-vard about the Health Care Reform legislation was more important than jobs, jobs, jobs.
I suppose I have to apologize for blaming Rahm Emmanuel – some people told me I was off the mark about blaming Emmanuel for the midterm beating up the Democratic Party took – when it was Summers who had the POTUS’ ear. Oh, well.
Milbank backed her up by naming that 13 Tea Bag congress critters have hired former lobbyists as either their Chiefs of Staff, or key staff officials, and suggested that the Republicans may have well tried to pimp the wrong group of people and that you couldn’t treat the Tea Bag gang like the religious groups got treated during the Bush Crime Administration. The Tea Baggers aren’t playing and they are bat shyt crazy.
Oh, that’s not what Milbank actually said – but he was honest enough to say that fixing the broken system of government in DC would literally put him out of a job, because he wouldn’t have nothing to write about.
Y’all know I was giving the side eye to David Frum – I give the side eye to anyone connected with the Bush Crime Family – and as his speechwriter who gave us the phrase “Axis of Evil” I wasn’t ready to hear any bullshyt from him.
I was somewhat surprised when he pointed out three salient facts:
(1) The Grifter killed her chances at the White House in 2012 with her response to the tragedy in Tucson and playing the victim. Either the Republican Party comes up with a serious candidate to challenge Obama or they go home. He repeated his “melting iceberg” remark at the event, and we were all surprised.
(2) When Tavis made a final and futile attempt to incite bashing Obama, looks like Frum wasn’t having none of it, either – “What’s going to keep the 2012 election from being the most racially polarizing and divisive?” (Tavis asked this question, y’all, and the mature sista behind me was murmuring, “Why is he asking that question? Enough with the hating already.”) Frum’s response “The hateration, racist rhetoric will not work because they won’t be appealing to a fringe group like the Tea Partiers; they will have to campaign from the center, and that rhetoric that works for the Tea Party will not work with mainstream voters. We cautioned McCain to stay away from that strategy…”
(3) John Boehner will have problems keeping his own caucus in line because they are now in charge, they have to GOVERN. They can’t be there to be obstructionist to the POTUS’ agenda or proposals. The Tea Party is a purist group and any deviation from what the Republicans promised will earn them challenges and give Boehner as well as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell heartburn for the next two years.
So, how did I do? I will encourage you to watch this, if you didn’t catch it on C-Span last night – I’m still willing to give Tavis the benefit of the doubt, which is more than he has done to me, or any other Black Woman Blogger/Journalist.
Cheryl Contee aka "Jill Tubman", Baratunde Thurston aka "Jack Turner", rikyrah, Leutisha Stills aka "The Christian Progressive Liberal", B-Serious, Casey Gane-McCalla, Jonathan Pitts-Wiley aka "Marcus Toussaint," Fredric Mitchell
Special Contributors: James Rucker, Rinku Sen, Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, Adam Luna, Kamala Harris
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