I viewed a live stream of the latest iteration of Tavis Smiley’s talkfest, “We Count! The Black Agenda is the American Agenda.”
Given the givens, I expected little more than infotainment. So, I was pleasantly surprised by the thoughtful critique of President Barack Obama and the proposed solutions to the jobless crisis in the African American community.
It’s a reflection of black folks’ confusion in the Age of Obama that African American scholars, thought leaders and political influentials have to defend answering the question: Is there a need for a black agenda?
By contrast, Latino leaders and illegal immigrant advocates show no such confusion. They criticize Obama without apology. And they have the audacity to march on Washington and demand that Obama focus on their agenda ahora.
Though I oppose comprehensive immigration reform amnesty, I agree with the open borders crowd: Change takes courage.
Chicago alderman Dorothy Tillman, an early supporter of then-candidate Barack Obama, observed:
We have a responsibility to bring the question to the President of the United States. When you look at black people today, I’ve never seen black folks so fearful and scared. Black folks are in pain. And this is the first time since we’ve been in this country that we’ve been in pain and scared to do something about it.Georgetown Prof. Michael Eric Dyson refuses to shut up. Dyson reminded Obama that he’s an American, too:
When Obama says a rising tide lifts all boats, he means it. But the descendants of enslaved Africans have a different experience . . . When it comes to blacks, they tell us to shut up.
You are the president of everybody. That includes me. I’m from Detroit. I don’t have to be white to be part of America.Dyson added:
Latinos asked for something, and they got something. Gays and lesbians said: “Don’t ask, don’t tell, change it.” Our Jewish brothers and sisters said, “Deal with Israel,” you deal with them.
Why is it when it comes to Negroes . . . when it comes to black folks, we are suddenly persona non grata? I tell you that every president before you has had to deal with the black agenda. How are you going to be any different?
The panelists’ criticism was cloaked “in love.” But what’s love got to do with it.
The issue is whether African Americans will remain silent and hope “a rising economic tide for all will lift African-American boats.”
Obama’s FY 2011 budget, meanwhile, provides funds to “expand opportunities” for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.