THE DEADWILEY TRUTH
Why Rev. Sharpton and Prof. West are Right
By Eric M. Deadwiley
April 29, 2011
There is a bitter debate raging about a heated discussion that was aired over the cable network MSNBC in a special titled: A Stronger America: The Black Agenda. The debate (ironically enough) has been more about which one of these well accomplished and highly visible men (Reverend Al Sharpton or Professor Cornel West) got the better in the exchange which was over President Obama’s treatment of the black masses of people suffering in this economy. I believe the entire purpose of the program was totally lost in their dialogue. First, if you want to talk about the “Black agenda” you need to talk about it with people from the “Grass-roots” of black America. You need to speak to the social advocates and activist that have their fingers directly on the pulse of the black and brown community. Second, the MSNBC news network is not the proper venue to air a wide ranging discussion on the black agenda because the MSNBC news network has a distinct history of under-usage if not an avoidance altogether of black commentators and contributors. The host’s of MSNBC’S prime-time line-up, since the launching of this network have been male and “White.” The host that moderated the discussion was Ed Shultz, who albeit is a progressive democrat, has himself a diversity problem as it pertains to the commentator’s and contributor’s he showcases on his cable and syndicated radio show. Third, Rev. Al Sharpton and Prof. Cornel West both are “Handcuffed” to entities and financial interest which prevent them from moving the black agenda forward in any meaningful way. Both Rev. Sharpton and Prof. West are wealthy men. Professor West teaches out of Princeton University, which is most likely what Rev. Sharpton alludes to when he often makes the statement about those critiques living in their “Ivory towers.” Professor West is also a Lecturer, author of several books and talk show host which he air’s along with another media personality Tavis Smiley. Reverend Sharpton is the founder and CEO of the National Action Network, with chapters all across the country. He is a paid minister who is highly sorted after to do eulogies such as the Michael Jackson and James Brown memorials. Rev. Sharpton also host’s several national radio and cable shows.
Rev. Sharpton is right to point out that most of the people critical of President Obama’s avoidance of black suffering in our present economic condition – did not say a word when past Presidents did the very same thing. When laws and policies which were detrimental to the black community were being passed while President’s Clinton or Bush was in office, most of these same people who are openly complaining now were silent. As long as they were receiving their slice of the pie – they were happy. Rev. Sharpton is right to point out that when he and others were out in the streets, on the front line of tough issues facing the black community i.e. “Driving while black,” “Police brutality” and “Stop and frisk” policies by the NYPD, these same politicians such as the Congressional Black Caucus and other pundit’s never pushed for legislation to end these practices.
However, Professor West hit the nail on the head when he told Rev. Sharpton that he could be “Used” to put a face on the practices and policies of those powers and entities which are complicit in the black communities suffering. Rev. Sharpton often gives his supporters the option of either voting to give President Obama a second term in office or face putting a right-wing ideologue such as Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann or Donald Trump in the White House. Rev. Sharpton is telling black folk who are suffering disaster level unemployment and foreclosure rates that they should vote for the President because he is the lesser of two evils! Then, Rev. Sharpton goes on to say that the “People” should force the President to attend to their issues. Not that they (the top 3 civil rights organizations of our day) should “Organize” the masses of people to action, as was done by these same civil rights groups back in the 60’s. This is the reason why Rev. Sharpton is wrong to be so close to the President and why the President was shrewd for putting the “Top” 3 civil rights advocacy groups in his inner circle from the very beginning of his presidency.
The National Action Network (NAN) headed by the Rev. Al Sharpton, The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) headed by Benjamin T. Jealous and The National Urban League (NUL) headed by Marc Morial. This is why some are concerned that Rev. Sharpton’s unprecedented “Access” to the President has been only beneficial to Rev. Sharpton. With all of this being said, President Obama may be forced to have a conversation about race after all. With people like Donald Trump questioning the president’s birth-place and intelligence, one could only wonder how much bigotry and hatred will be spewed in the next 18 months – right up the 2012 Presidential election. Rev. Sharpton and Prof. West, should mend their differences, cut the bigots off at their path and host a “Massive” discussion on “Race!” This discussion should involve members of all nationalities and religious belief’s, and no one should be excluded from participation. This bigotry that is being spewed by the right-wing is only the tip of the iceberg. God only knows what’s next.
Eric M. Deadwiley is a Freelance Op-Ed Columnist, Ghost-writer and Author
Contact: Eric M. Deadwiley