After 10 years, Tavis Smiley has decided to put his annual “State of the Black Union” (aka Negro Super Bowl), to rest.

All in all, I have some mixed feelings about this development.  On one hand, as one of our posters stated in the Open Thread, it was a prime spot for uninterrupted TV air time without any commercials for Black folks.  On the other hand, all that pontification coming from the Black Elite on Stage left very little room for real discussion of any issues directly, or indirectly affecting Black People – let alone developing and implementing real solutions to those issues.

Some of you are probably saying “Good Riddance”; others might really be mourning the fact that we won’t get to see Dr. Cornel West or Michael Eric Dyson puff themselves up or pat themselves on the back anymore.  Some of you might actually miss Rev. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson getting their raps on.

Some of you might miss those who actually tried to TALK SENSE to us, the people Tavis said he loves so much.

Four years ago, I wrote for then-Black Commentator the following article, “Why is Tavis Smiling and Why are We Watching?”  From the comments received, the questions I asked in the article was long overdue.

We can attend events like the SOBU and walk away with a few hours, or days of euphoria as noted guests entertain us with their ability to give rousing speeches and arouse and galvanize our emotions that demonstrate our frustration and anger at largely being ignored as a people.  Or, we can start questioning why we attend such events – do we want to just be in the company of celebrities and politicians that are celebrated in their field and are afforded accolades like Dr. Cornel West?  Or do we attend because we want to know what we must do in order to make our lives and the lives of other African-Americans better than what we have now?  Do the speakers provide that resource for us, or are they there to pontificate and tell us what to do, while demonstrating an equal unwillingness to get their hands dirty in doing the hard work of taking back our communities and healing them to wholeness on all fronts?

After the publication of three books related to the State of the Black Union (“The Covenant With Black America” (2006); “The Covenant In Action” (2007); and “Accountability” (2008) – , numerous “Town Hall” meetings held in strategic places around the country, ostensibly, to facilitate “discussions” about those books; not to mention the exposure of Tavis’ connections to banks that steered Black folk to very bad sub-prime mortagages,  the State of the Black Union is being put to rest.

I think most of us started smelling something when it seemed after 2005, a book was published just before an SOBU, and the smell was of someone getting FAT PAID.

I question the timing of it all.  While I’m not sure how much of a loss it will be to Black people, I’m wondering why he’s pulling the plug.

Ten years after it began, the annual State of Black Union conference has met its end.

Tavis Smiley has announced the end of his yearly conference series that focused on a myriad of problems within the Black community and of ways to alleviate the stressors that have caused America’s most beleaguered citizens much pain.

“The State of the Black Union doesn’t have the premium that it used to have, and that’s a good thing,” said Smiley to several media outlets, including members of the Associated Press.

Is it me, or do Black Communities still suffer that myriad of problems?  And what’s good about your product not having a “Premium” anymore? I’m just asking…..

And then, the real reason why he’s quitting the SOBU:

Smiley is opting to let go of his brainchild in order to focus on several professional projects which include his new publishing company, which is planning on releasing the memoirs of none other than R. Kelly, and four prime-time television specials. (Emphasis mine).

W-T-F?  Are we really so desperate for literary classics that there is an actual demand for memoirs of an alleged pedophile?

(I say “alleged” because he was acquitted by a jury of his peers because homegirl refused to testify, and authenticating the time and date of the video proved to be problematic.)

Dare I say it?  Tavis is giving up this cash cow because the cow has DRIED UP?  He can’t get paid from it anymore, while telling the public he’s doing it for FREE, and taking payola from Wells Fargo, Nationwide, Mickey D’s and Wal-Mart.

WHAT?  Y’all thought he actually did those events FOR FREE?  Not when you force people to register for the event, and then they must fill out their registration online, answering a gazillion marketing questions in order to be registered to get into the actual event?  What do you think he did with all that information gathered?  And C-SPAN has cashed the check before the cameras ROLL.

Ain’t nothing Free in this world except a HARD WAY TO GO.  Rest in Peace, State of the Black Union.  You started out with good intentions, but then, again, the road to Hell is paved with the same thing.

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