The Root Interview: Why Tavis Smiley "Cannot Be Silent"
He reveals what inspired his upcoming black agenda summit, and why Rev. Al won't be there.
I think this focus on Wall Street for the last year and just now getting to Main Street, and maybe someday the side street -- I think that process is inverted. The White House keeps suggesting that he is the president of all America and not just black America, which I think is specious. Their response to black unemployment has been that a rising tide will lift all boats. Well, all of the boats didn't go down at the same time. And all of the boats aren't going to come up at the same time. And when the tide does come up, if you're in a yacht and I'm in a dingy, we still have a problem.
Let me be clear about this: My conversations about starting this panel discussion have not been about the president. [They have] been about black leaders. What compelled me to convene this conversation [is the idea] that this president doesn't need to address a black agenda. It's one thing for the White House to say that. But when black leaders -- whose job it is to represent the best interest of black people -- start saying that any president doesn't have to uniquely address the concerns of people who are getting crushed, that troubles me.
TR: Have you reached out to the Obama administration to express your concern about what it is or isn't doing for blacks who, as you say, "are getting crushed.''
TS: I think they've heard me loud and clear .
For more information on the symposium, go to TavisTalks.com.
Lynette Holloway is a Chicago-based writer. She is a former New York Times reporter and associate editor for Ebony magazine.