February 17, 2008

Tavis, Stop Drinking Your Own Koolaid

The Black Blogosphere has lit up with reaction to Tavis' hissy fit due to Obama's decision not to attend Tavis' State of the Black Union event (check out Boyce Watkins in the feature video section above). Tavis called the decision a "miscalculation and a missed opportunity". Please, get over yourself. Some people supporting Smiley's position that Obama should attend say he is not coming in order
to maintain favor with white voters by not appearing too black, or advance the notion he is straddling the fence of white and black opinion. These silly arguments are little more than a rehash of the "is Obama really black?" question that the vast majority of black people have already put to bed, as evidenced by the 80+ percent of them voting for him in caucuses and primaries.

There are excellent reasons why Obama should not attend Tavis's event. In the heat of a campaign like this, every minute of his time is gold and he can't afford to spend it unwisely. He already won in Louisiana, Texas and Ohio are coming up and he is trying to gain ground in those states and close out his rival for the nomination. Its about winning and going to the big dance, but Tavis is suggesting he take his eye off the ball to help Tavis' gig be big success. What for? Tavis is not delivering some audience that Obama is not or has not already reached. Furthermore, this idea that Tavis advances of Obama taking an opportunity to address the "real" issues of black america is nonsense. The themes of his campaign and the issues he is raising of jobs, the war, healthcare, all that stuff is important to blacks. We are so busy demanding people speak to our grievances, complaints and victim identity, we take our eye off the ball.

I can hear some now saying "well Hillary is coming, she made time". Of course. She is low on cash, any free media is good and if Obama came she would get a ton. Further, she needs face time with black folk after she and Bill totally blew their longstanding most favored Caucasian status with smear tactics, clumsy rhetoric and a clear attempt to connect Barack to white voter discomfort on the subject of race. The result? Obama is taking 80% and more of the black vote in every contest. She badly needs to rebuild some ground with us. She needs Tavis, Obama does not.

Lastly, Tavis' event is not the only place for the definitive word on black peoples issues to be revealed to the masses. Nor does Barack have to show up at a "black" event to speak to black issues. Tavis' elitist notion that it is only in the presence of he and his black intellectual friends that light may be shed upon the issues of Black America is just that, a notion. Anybody says they don't know what Obama stands for don't want to know. Now, some say, well I haven't heard from him on this specific issue I got. Well, the list of specific issues you have not heard him speak on directly will likely not get any shorter. But to suggest that Obama is somehow suspect or disregarding black folk because in the middle of the most important political battle of his life, at a point where his every move counts and he is playing for a place in the history books, that he should break from a winning game plan because Tavis throws a hissy fit when he gets reminded that the black universe does not revolve around him and his event is extremely stupid.