Tavis Smiley: The Last of the Loud

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This past Sunday on “Meet the Press,” the presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin said the following, “Latinos, women and young people — that is the new governing coalition.”


To be sure, there are Black folk in each of those categories. But since President Obama’s victory on Election Day, I have been troubled by the paltry attention paid to the record turnout amongst African Americans to make Mr. Obama only the fourth Democrat in a century to be re-elected to a second term.  I know Doris Kearns Goodwin, so I don’t think she intended to suggest that  Black votes don’t matter. But there is this creepy sense that in the midst of this historic moment in Black history, Black Americans are being pushed off stage.  And while Black Americans are being pushed off the stage, there is a growing debate on the internet and in the mainstream media about whether and how Black folk should push President Obama now that “he has nothing to lose.”

There’s a whole lot of pushing going on.

This is real simple for me. With all due respect to the formidable coalition of Latinos, women, and young voters, Barack Obama would not be sitting in the Oval Office right now had  Black folk stayed home in their “house slippers.”  African Americans are his most loyal constituency and everybody in the Obama re-election campaign and in the Obama White House knows it.  The president owes Black folk.  BIG time.

The poet Gwendolyn Brooks had this wonderful refrain, “the last of the loud.”   Respectfully, somebody has to remind the president day in and day out of the debt he owes Black America.  After four years of being sidelined and silenced, it’s time to get loud.  We have to be willing to engage even if we are “the last of the loud.”

Our Latino brothers and sisters immediately (as in the day after the election) jumped on a national media conference call to make it clear that they saved the president in some key battleground states. I ain’t mad at ‘em. That’s exactly what they should have done.  Black folk taught the disenfranchised masses how to make demands in the name of unarmed truth and unconditional love. Ready for the hard truth?  At the moment, our Latino brothers and sisters are better examples of the Black prophetic tradition than are Black folk.

Word now comes that many Black notables will join together at a national symposium later this week to discuss the state of Black America and the road ahead. We will see if Black leaders are finally ready to turn up the volume.  If we aren’t, well, we’re just going to get drowned out over the next four years. There is a line of folk wrapped around the White House who intend to collect on the Obama promissory note they’ve been holding since 2008. Where are African Americans in that line? Are African Americans even in the line?

We celebrate this electoral victory today, but what about tomorrow?  How tragic would it be at the end of eight years to be confronted by economic data which suggests (as the data does now) that in the Obama era Black folk lost ground in every single leading economic indicator category?  I shudder at the very thought. So should you.

Are we going to be the last of the loud, or just the last?

–          Tavis Smiley


47 Comment

  1. “carnival barker”

  2. If we could stop the personal attacks, perhaps, perhaps people would listen to us.

    • Do you mean Tavis's personal attacks (towards POTUS) or collective personal attacks that you believe Black folks have participated in? Asking clarification.

    • All of the attacks, we can disagree without attacking one another. I respect everyone's opinion. I expect them to respect mine.

    • So true,Oren

  3. Can't be mad at that…let's be sure, however that we first leverage our local vote. State and local are the folks who impact our immediate economic, environmental, educational, justice climate no matter who is in the white house…

    • Hi Telisa, i am new to this site. may i say that i have wonedered why we ( black people) don't use our vote as one vote to get what we want.


  5. young people? So when they come of age they no longer matter? not very far sighted now are we?

  6. Most things start from the bottom and work their way up. This is your city and state government. How much pressure are you putting on them? Then they will go to the President. We can not get our black community to work together. A house divided start at the home, school, church. We can not even get the ministers in some of these neighbors to come to community meetings. That is because they do not live where their church is just come in to collect there checks for Wednesday night prayer meeting and Sunday service. And don’t forget pastors anniversary. I am talking from what we are experiencing not what is written on the Tavis review.
    We talk about what the President owe us. What do we owe ourselves. And I mean big time. President Obama can not stop us from losing our property that was worked for because the next generation want the money left behind. Think of what you are saying. Some of it does not make since to me. Some people say I do not want property left to me in Alabama I am not going back down there. Well the Japanese do not all live here but they do own hotels here. Free your mind.

    • Deloris, you’ve worded it perfectly. We do, indeed, need to start at the bottom; i.e., with the local politicians in our cities and with ourselves. We OWE ourselves and our children big time. No one seems to be listening or paying attention to the seriousness of where we are economically and socially. I live in Los Angeles and black neighborhoods are slowly becoming extinct. Latinos (who are becoming more vocal with their racism against us) are steadily moving into traditonal black neighborhoods (suspiciously they’re the ones being qualified for home loans). We better wake up, pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and start making changes to ensure a strong economic future.

  7. Give it a rest (all people!)! He is POTUS, not just to a certain group of people!! He knows what the ‘hell’ is going on, nor is he trying to ignore any group!!! The myopic way ‘some people’ think that it’s ‘all about them’- -NOT!!! There are 535 other persons that have an impact on the decision he can or not make . . .CONGRESS HAS A SAY TOO. Duh, stop the _itching and let him ‘try’ to do for ‘A-L-L’ citizens( which is what is wrong with the system in the first place– to much special interest!!!!).
    Actually, there are very few people who are helpless and can’t help themselves; realistically, compared to other countries and their people/ previous generations, we are not where we want to, nor are we where we use to be. Here’s an idea, give the man a chance!

    be, but so damn far from where we use to be, you’d think?

  8. I do not wish to hear or read anything further from Tavis Smiley, whether it is good or bad. In my book, he is irrelevant; he’s always looking for a way to badmouth President Obama. Black people were not sidelined during the first Obama Administration. If Mr. Smiley had paid a little attention, he would have seen how the Republicans blocked almost every policy the President tried to enact that would move the economy forward. There is a jobs bill still on the President’s desk, but Republicans will not pass it. During the campaign, one Republican admitted that they would fight everything the President proposed, even if it brought the country down! Now that is real hatred.

  9. Two things even a nuclear explosion can’t get rid of, roaches and Negro henchmen. I find Tavis’s comments displaying a deep level of psychosis; where he expects the POTUS to bow to him, when he’s done everything in his power to bring him down.

    I’m thoroughly sick of the Tavis Smiley side show, aka the state of black America. All these black notables (who, where, when and why) will show you the state of black America by gathering at a white owned facility showing 1) lack of blacked owned businesses and 2) once again begging the government to do which we don’t seem to be able to do with our $trillion dollar spending.

    While Tavis any company lap up coffee and croissants; I can look outside and tell you the state of black America – families in shambles which has destabilized our communities, tore up our schools and filled up the prisons.

    We have a man leading his household, adoring his wife and loving his children. As he works on the country’s business maybe we should make it our business to learn from such a great role model that will help solve a lot of our problems. Unfortunately it will not solve the irritating presence of Tavis Smiley.

  10. Tavis Smiley is as Toxic as Cornel West I remember years ago before he became so vile I saw him in a restaurant in Los Angeles and I said too myself what a handsome level headed professional black man but those thoughts are long gone like many white folk he is still moaning the political death of Mitt Romey and refuse too see how this man and others tried too block the black vote something that no doubt his parents and grandparents fought for some even died for so stop whining and preaching too black folks Tavis!!! hoping that they will agree with your patheic comments the election is over find something else to talk about and do with your life and besides what are you doing for black folks pretty much nothing you are filled with so much jealousy and hatred you can’t contain yourself which explains why you are not on air anymore SMH

  11. yes, Tavis, need to shut the f-u-c-k up…



  13. hes the president of all people last I check there was just as manny white people as they was latinos and blacks backing him up there was asians indians all kind of people so to say he owes a particular groupd of people is some ignorant nigga shit for this idiot to say.

    • Carlos U R the ignorant piece of s**t must have missed kindergarden look at who Obama cater's to then you might be eligible to speak against Tavis

    • carlos, you have no clue as to what you are saying. travis is correct this time. obama does owe black folks, as most of you say "obama is the president for all people, that means black folks to". a day after the election latino's went out on the streets demanding immigration reform, now what about us, we can't sit around and be quiet all the time and miss out on everything. travis is not saying anything wrong. we lose out on everything just sitting around waiting for someone to give us something. we need to do like the latino's did they got up and ask reform for putting obama in the office. they act as if it was not for their vote obama would not be president for 4 more years. they act as if black folks votes does not matter. wake up carlos and others like you, latino's are the biggest minority and if we keep sitting and waiting we will lose out to them, just image answering to them.
      i voted for obama, now i want a job and i want to see the economy improving for black people, first, others next. carlos we are americans, we build this country, our ancestors been in this country since the begining, our forefathers died hard unthinkable deaths so we could have the rights to demand our fair share. now latino's come here illegally, have millions of babies, get all the jobs, vote for obama to get free green cards, and black folks sit around and wait and wait for holler obama is the president for all and we still losing out and waiting.
      GIVE ME A BREAK……..STOP being stupid listen to travis…..

    • Sowers Bennie you can eat a dick and die bitch

    • Desiree Parker me personaly obama dosent owe me shit what i need i get out there and get it my self i dont sit around waiting for a daam hand out i dont have the best job but i make it any way i can obama owes the people of america not no one particular group thats my opinion and yes they need to stop treating mexicans like shit mexicans was part of this country before blacks and whites

    • And whose fault is that? Not POTUS, if you don't have its because you aren't proactive to get what you want.

    • Desiree Parker Ok Desiree, when are you gonna rally the troops, when are u gonna get out their an demand, an what are we gonna demand, oh just get out their an start demanding something, a better education, stop putting our kid in jail, stop putting drug dealer in jail, protect our neighbor hoods from our own kids in our neighborhoods or the thugs in our neighbor hoods, just what are we gonna demand, that our kids get less time behind bars because they selling crack not power, that we as a people stop self inflicting wound on ourselves, just what is it that we need to demand, if you don't know call Tavis an ask him, Tavis is not right now or on anything having to do with Barack Obama, he is unable to get air time with anybody now days so Boyce done gave him a lil, where is Don King brother, Tavis tag team partner Twiggie Cornell West, i know he will be here soon.

  14. Tavis need to go and lay under a rock, he is not qualified to discuss politics in America, he does not have a card.

    • U R just another koolaid drinking fool blinded by faux political correctness that don't apply to black folk you are sleeping under the rock my "friend"

    • Wow name calling, is that all we as black folks are capable of.

  15. No, Obama does not owe blacks…. T
    avis, you know where you can go. You and Cornel West are NOT in the Jessie Jackson and Dr King territories-YOU DO NOT SPEAK FOR BLACK AMERICA.
    Obama has increased money for education/Repubs tried to wipe it out altogether along with AAction. Before 1965, education was greatly stressed to build a black family up and keep them from being poor. Education and Trades. I do NOT see that happening today.

    Get a hold of your kids!! If you do not know where they are at, find them. Pay your child support, take care of your children Break the cycle!!
    Start a relationship with them- do not let them become a statistic. Stress and education and a trade, not something they cannot get a job in if they graduated today. The sciences, IT, and Healthcare fields need more than they have right now. This is where they can get a job quickly with the right training.
    Get a hold of your family! Whether you are a single parent household or a two-parent household. WORK together budget-wise …. if two people are working- you can make it, you can eat until one try to improve himself through training (for a new job) grants are plentiful and NO it’s not too late no matter how OLD you are.

    Stop spending your money on things that keep you in debt and have NO value.

    Education was always stressed after slavery on up unitl 1964. Obama is for education, without it history soon repeats itself- it almost did….

    Work together, and pay no attention to these SELF-HATING, CRABS IN A BARREL, NEGROES WHO ARE MAD BECAUSE SOMEONE IS LEAVING THE PLANTATION, type of carnival barkers like West and Smiley.

  16. tavis you will not get on the band wagon JACKASS.

    • just stop it Tavis is right just has bigger balls to speak truth to power than U whimps who is the looser jackass

  17. While I really have never agreed with Tavis on most any of his political views, I do understand what he is trying to say. True, the commission that Tavis is attempting to put on the President is prodigious at best. But in attempting to place value on the Black vote, Tavis has a point. In today’s political environment, if your vote doesn’t matter then you don’t matter.
    In efforts in getting young blacks to vote, it is so very important for them to see how precious their vote is and that there vote counts. I have spent hours of time telling young black people (male/female) that they have a voice and voting is a way of exercising that voice.
    Like Tavis, I too was disappointed in the lack of importance or acknowledgement of the Black vote considering that Blacks, not just minorities, Blacks voted historically greater in numbers than any other time since we were allowed to vote. 2012 voting was Guinness book record voting for blacks yet that fact is not mentioned in recognized or acclaimed by any major (or even minor) news source. And while it is not the Presidents responsibility to announce this factoid, it should be noted.
    I do have to say Chris Matthews and Rachel Maddow both semi casually reported this information, it was said with a comma not a period.
    Though it may or not be a fact that had Blacks not supported our President, with all my heart I know that had we not, it would have been worldly declared that “he” could not even get Blacks to vote for him.


  19. Tavis , get over it.You and Romney crying the same tears.Let it go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  20. I wondered also, where was the statistics or count of African Americans vote in the this election? It seemed intentionally not mentioned!

  21. Hispanics voted for Obama because he promised them Something let’s say Favorable Immigration Bills/Laws? While a Negro a New Fool will Vote for the First Cracker who comes in the Hood & Kisses some CrackBabies and Plays the Saxophone! Remember Negroes we lost More under Clinton than Nixon-the father of Modern Conservatism! Remember BraindeadNegroes who went around saying this Cracker was the First Black President? Clinton is a DixieCrat a Southern Cracker(Democrat) who learned to Manipulate WeakMinded Negroes for His own Political Purposes! Clinton said about our President “This is the Biggest Fairytale I have ever Seen” but where are the Blackfolks to Check this Cracker! I don’t Mind Tavis guiding our President because he is not Black Enough! Too Many Crackers in His Ear! If He Need Help he should call us for Advise & please go Buy some Testicals at Walmart & put these Crackers in Check! Bush got Elected I did not pitch a Bitch I just Got out the Country! I despise that Devil & all those Satanic Demons he calls a Family! As Blackfolks we should only take Critisim from God & Our Own People! I don’t play that Crackers in a Niggas Bizness! I know & Love Tavis He loves Black America & only wants the Best for Us,ignorant Anglo Saxon Negroes it will take you 20 Years to figure these Crackers out but I know one thing Never Trust the Enemy! The Last time we trusted some PaleFaces we ended up in the Whole of a Ship Sick & Assed out! Keep trusting these Devils! Miss Me with that BS! Oh Tavis Wesside!

  22. I didn’t vote for the president because he was black. . .I voted
    because if was the “right” thing to do at this time. I did not like being boxed into that 47% that Romney had me in.

  23. Tavis, I
    If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the
    problem. Why sit on the sidelines and criticise. Why not go to
    the President and offer to held steer him in the right direction.

  24. I would like to know exactly what Tavis wants the POTUS to do about the black community, didn't we get a lot of stuff during the civil rights movement? What about requiring new legislation from the local level, school districts, etc, inside of focusing so many negativity towards the POTUS.

    • He we go some of these post are simply funny…the POTUS has a lot to do, in fact his job is to oversee the country….but here is the hit…We as Americans or African-Americans want President Obama or any president to make sure that black folks or minorities in general get fair treatment equal treatment (remember the word equality)

    • We the United States has no idea what the word equality means, ask women who do the same job but get paid less, we see it in housing, education, income status, if there was enough space I could go on and on, so Smiley I believe just wants to remind any leader what the prime responsibility is when you are in a leadership position, and this deeply rooted problem called injustice in so many areas will take more than the POTUS to fix, cause he didnt break it…Lord Lord Lord,

    • In an ideal world equality, how wonderful. However thats not reality, and probably never will be. And no legislation is going to fix it. Obama signed an equal pay act for women, and we are still getting paid less.

  25. what is truly sad is that Black folk only look to government for "help". First of all, what "help" do we need? We don't even live in Black neighborhoods anymore. Latinos, whites and asians all have business districts, neighborhoods and their own police force. What exactly makes us a group? Nothing.

    we run away from each other, as quickly and as far away as we possibly can.

    No, Black folk didn't vote for Obama, we voted for "the democrat", something I will never understand. This is the party that brought Jim Crow, KKK and lynching.

    Kerry – 93%.
    Gore – 95%.
    Obama – 91%.

    Stop letting the media tell you, you did something for Obama. You're only 13% of the population. and only 66% of us voted, period. So a whopping 7% of the population that voted, was Black. And, nearly 10% of us voted conservative.

    You all are being led by the nose to believe you're "for" Obama. When actually, he has had the worst turnout in 30 years. But, the democratically led news media, keeps pounding at your brain to get you to buy that you somehow changed the presidential election.

    Don't get me wrong, Tavis Smiley is not your friend either. Unless a Black man / leader tells you to: pool your resources with your family and friends; live in the same neighborhood; start your own business; and cater to everyone in that neighborhood; and hire your own people… he ain't saying much of anything.

    We need to wake up and smell the coffee. All other racial groups are eating our lunch and we're being told Obama is our savior. This is the same Obama that has ignored us for 4 years, and come time for re-election, puts out a rap vdeo with slang, talking about "Obama's got your back". What kind of low-class crap is that? Did he want our vote for president, or to be his wing-man in a drug deal?

    Obama has done nothing but given us larger and ever-increasing unemployment. But, Tavis Smiley is not much better.

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