Obama and the Black State of the Union


I've watched the State of the Black Union since 2004 and this last one was great but I came away thinking that it was exactly like the other 4+ and with the audience automatic call and response, and standing ovations every 30 seconds, I don't think anything gets done as a consequence of the meeting. I know there was the Tavis Smiley's Covenant with Black America, what became of that? Anyway, Obama has said he will not be attending this year's SOTBU in New Orleans.  Understandably its a big deal that he won't. On one hand, I think that it is unfortunate that he feels that he has to distance himself from the Black community at this juncture, but on the other hand I feel like he's making a safe decision which is the best thing he can do right now. He has primaries in Texas and Ohio in about a week and those have already been billed the last nail for whoever's candidacy's coffin.

But whatever.

I think if I was in his shoes I would do the same thing.  Is that the wrong decision? Perhaps. He should send a taped apology of why he can't appear (i.e. campaigning).


I just don't like how these kind of forums feel like they have a monopoly on the black experience
in America. I love it, I'll probably still watch but we've got to spread ourselves out here, Black people! Many leaders, not one, or some, should be the new worldview.  I mean we saw it earlier in Obama's candidacy when Sharpton et al tried to make it as though since they hadn't given him their blessing he was not legitimate "black candidate".  I like the new guys: Deval Patrick, Obama, Ford from Tennessee the NJ mayor. Check out this piece in the Baltimore Sun for what I mean.


I know the usual reaction to a post like this is there is still systemic racism and endemic injustice.  I know, you're preaching to the choir. I just feel that to counteract these issue we, black people in America, need better leaders who are as diverse as we are.  I think the sun is setting on Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, NAACP etc. Believe me I love these organizations but either they radically update themselves or face irrelevancy because as we get further and further away from the Civil Rights Movement with time, I believe that black america is outgrowing these tight boundaries. 

Tagged with: Current Affairs

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  • wow @ owuor…na by force that you must read this blog?…
    …i think most have pointed out the most importnat fact…irrelevancy…tavis and co’s state of the black union…puppet sharpton, coon jackson and still for the colored naacp have long since deemed themselves irrelevant…big, long yawn…that fallacy of a forum is the work of puppets to placate the black masses into believing that’someone’ is identifying and campaigning for the end to the oppression of black people in the us…phooey that it is 2008 and we are still identifying and talking about the same issues malcolm and martin were talking about…talk less of how one-dimensional it is…no talk of the thousands of black immigrants and refugees and their plight or how they fit into the mix of black america…i’m so tired of these ‘black experts’ or ‘owners/definers of the black experience’ telling ‘us’ what it is to be black…i for damn sure don’t eat pork or fried catfish…but dammit if i am black…i don’t tell people who have never heard of fufu or palmwine that they aren’t black…who said that pork, greens, candied yams, chicken kool-aid and catfish made you blcak?…i’m so happy we are so open-minded and aware that black people exist outside the us…wake-up call to black americans-you are not and do not dictate the epitome of black…there are more people of african descent in brasil than the us…marinate on that for a second…
    …obama is smart to have skipped such an irrelevant parade of self-proclaimed ‘black leader’ puppets, cooning and elaborately bemoaning what we already know, without any real viable solutions…clinton would attend…i think it is indicative of what she would do for black people once in office…give great lip service [take that however you want] and keep reminding folks of what her husband did for the negros…although, for the life of me, i don’t know what he did, besides get head in the oval office…thanks clinton!!!….like a real g!!…eye roll…i used to like tavis, especially when he brilliantly hosted a panel discussion at morehouse about ethical leadership…he should go re-examine the transcript and then look at what he is doing…
    …nice post bev…sorry such a long comment and my mini-tirade in there;)…

    guerreiranigeriana on
  • lol @ Owuor. Ummmm..this is my personal blog? Also, I’m not an “illegal”. And lastly, I am on the Kenya webring, because I am Kenyan-American, and I have plenty of posts on Kenya.
    The nerve of this guy!
    (but thanks for sharing)

    Beve on
  • i am always surprised at angry comments, i find it hard to believe they are real – it is self-centred, as though there is no world outside that person’s wants. But anyway, beside that last one i do think everyone comments here are really good and add so much to your post Beve, and I echo Ssembonge – very well said. Thanks for another great post!

    pia on
  • Tavis Smiley needs to take a chill pill. Way to help a brother out Tavis! Tavis is the face of the racially divisive politics that Obama is fighting. So what if couldn’t make it? maybe next time huh!

    Joseph Karoki on
  • What is it with your obsession with obama? This is supposed to be about Kenya not your your current illegal residence. If youhave nothing about Kenya, then post your garbage as grafiti in your gheto walls.
    By a furious Kenyan.

    Owuor on
  • Obama Skips Out?
    Whenever a leader makes a tough decision it will generally draw controversy especially from those who believe they are most affected by it. Mr. Obama’s decision to skip the State of the Black Union Symposium in order to continue his campaign in Texas and Ohio is one of those decisions.
    Is it a missed opportunity as Mr. Tavis Smiley has stated? On the surface it would certainly appear so but it is also important to look at what is really at stake. The bigger picture if you will. For the first time in the history of our great nation an African-American has a very real chance of becoming the country’s top executive. Therefore everything else, even an event as important as this State of the Black Union Symposium, has to be seen in that perspective.
    Mr. Obama’s campaign record alone shows that he is a highly organized planner and manager and there is no doubt in my mind that he thought through this decision with all its implications. The mark of a leader is that he can analyze all the information at his disposal and make the decision that will serve the greater good.
    For all those who condemn Senator Obama for skipping out or missing an opportunity, try putting yourself in his shoes and looking at it this way. On the one hand he gets to make a difference for a few thousand members of the black community. On the other hand he gets to come closer to making a difference for the entire nation which will also include all of the black community not just the ones participating in the event. Forgive me for stating the obvious but what we have here is a no-brainer.
    Instead of criticizing Senator Obama, Mr. Smiley, et al should be commending him. This decision shows that Mr. Obama is in fact ready to become the next Commander-in-Chief because he will not allow anything to take his focus off the task at hand, he will not play favorites, and he will not allow himself to be maneuvered by the whims of a few.
    On a closing note I think it was gracious of Senator Obama to offer Mrs. Obama as his surrogate and by refusing the offer it is Mr. Smiley who is missing an opportunity.
    Respectfully submitted,

    ABurns on
  • Tavis. Are you kidding me?
    BET has provided us with the most destructive forces that our culture has witnessed, and Tavis has brought it full circle with his attempt to tear down Barack Obama. Thanks Black Man. Thanks for making this news fodder for the networks to run.

    The Black Dude From Brooklyn on
  • I believe Obama has spoken openly about rasism and segregation in America. At the same time he does not want this to be the central theme of his message. That said, he has made the right decesion to keep away from Black activists.
    It’s interesting the way blacks backed Hillary up until South Carolina when they switched to Obama. I believe, Obama’s plan was to bring them on board at the opportune time.
    There is a lot that we (i.e. blacks) can learn from Obama’s strategy.

    Ssembonge on
  • I hold Travis Smiley in high regard but as two of the other post noted, this event is irrelevant, primarily because it rehashes issues and, worse yet, alleged solutions to these rehashed issues. I recently saw promos for this event on television and the participants they mentioned do not represent enough of the breadth of black experience and view points.

    Les on
  • I first came across the State of the Black Union (back in my TV watching days) in the early 2000s. Channel surfing, you know, and then I came across this dazzling display of black men and women in suits, standing before a boisterous crowd, soap-boxing, fist waving, all of that. Of course, I put down the remote and listened intently. Then it got boring. I watched again the next year and it was boring again. I haven’t watched the SBU in maybe three years because it’s a predictable mess. I’m tired of turning on the television only to see myself as a good dancer, a hoop player, or a permed-out and aimless nabob singing “we shall overcome” to a generation plugged into iPods.
    So I guess, this year’s SBU really held special weight because it coincided with Obama’s campaign. I even suppose that campaigning at this point is a bit more important than scratching for brownie points from the black “Old Guard” (who are probably more upset about being overshadowed by Obama’s “questionable” blackness, as opposed to him simply not showing up). Interestingly enough, I even read an editorial in Howard University’s student paper “The Hilltop,” in which the editors complained that Tavis Smiley was wrong for not accepting Michelle Obama’s offer to show up in her husband’s place. While it was a nice gesture, I can understand Smiley’s desire to have the actual candidate’s face at the Union. I’m almost certain that Smiley’s intention was to get Obama in the “black room” and survey his so-called “blackness” once and for all.
    My personal opinions concerning Obama notwithstanding, I don’t blame him for skipping over such an irrelevant program. But, it does add to the fire of questions concerning his ideas on all things “black/African”. We hear nothing about Kenya. We get (at best) politically correct comments about the Jena Six, my God, we don’t even know if he eats pork ribs or fried catfish…..!

    mike on

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