Most of us have heard the old saying "Like crabs in a barrel." It is a well known adage in the African-American community. When one of us tries to make progress or take a step forward, there are always those people (crabs), who are right there snapping at us, trying to pull us back. They use disparaging remarks to assassinate some one else's character. They turn every good deed into a bad deed, and they find fault with each and every action. The most dangerous crabs are the ones who feel a sense of entitlement. In their minds, their star shines brighter, their skills and capabilities are unmatched, and they simply deserve success more than the subject of their disdain. They become more resentful with every passing day, and they never pass up a moment to throw stones. To the point of sometimes creating moment's where none exists.
I have tried not to write about these two men. That fact is, I actually have a lot of respect for both Cornel West, and Tavis Smiley. But enough is enough. Both West and Smiley have been overly critical of the President, taking shots like some eccentric father and son team at a firing range. Dr. Cornel West is a former Harvard professor, and now professor at Princeton University, who is well respected in the academic community for his intellectual prowess. But he often over articulates his innate curiosity, and is overly judgmental. He seems to delight himself in being precocious, and for all of his genius, and arrogant intellectualism, seems ignorant. His statements in reference to President Obama make him sound like a jilted lover who was stood up on prom night.
Tavis Smiley is a broadcaster, author, and publisher who has found a kindred spirit, father figure, and mentor in West. An older wiser man who seems to validate his cache' and reaffirm the elitist since of superiority that he wears like a badge of honor.
On August 6th 2012 the two embarked on a "poverty tour" designed to draw attention to those who are living in poverty. After holding a press conference they boarded a bus in Wisconsin and worked their way through 9 states before culminating in Menphis. But the tour, was dogged by a raging debate, largely in the African-American community, over scathing criticisms Smiley and West have levied against President Barack Obama in the past. West has been quoted as saying, "I mean, I’m glad there was not a right-wing takeover, but we end up with a Republican, a Rockefeller Republican in blackface, with Barack Obama, so that our struggle with regard to poverty intensifies." Smiley on the hand seems to be holding a grudge against the president. He said that Obama, whom he's known for years, "is the first president in my professional career that hasn't invited me to the White House."
In addition to derision by bloggers who dubbed the tour "The Blame Obama Poverty Tour", and media figures, it encountered backlash amongst some of the very groups of people it purported to champion. Crowds in Detroit disrupted the tour’s town hall meeting with a pro-Obama protest, while many other citizens denounced the tour via Twitter. One of Smiley and West's complaints about the President is that he is not doing enough for the poor and disenfranchised in America, and has chosen to focus on the middle class instead. Despite their best intentions, which seem dubious at best, as of this writing, the tour has seemed to be little more than an attempt by two men to heal their bruised ego's with a self aggrandizing gesture. The effort amounts to nothing more than posturing by two bitter public figures who are arrogant enough to believe that they could do a better job, and despite the obvious aptitude and academic acumen neither has come up with a viable solution to poverty. Neither one has ever been invited to the White House, and probably never will be, at least not for the next four years. This past Tues. January.22, 2013, Preside Obama was sworn in for a second term. This was truly a great day for Obama supporters, and everyone in the Black community except for 2 people........Guess who? President Obama was sworn in using a bible that once belonged to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as not only a symbol of triumph, but also as a symbol of how far we've come as a nation, and Dr. West had this to say,
“…All the blood sweat, and tears that went into producing a Martin Luther King Jr. generated a brother of such high decency and dignity that you don’t use his prophetic fire as just a moment in presidential pageantry without understanding the challenge that he presents to all of those in power no matter what color they are, no matter what color they are. So the righteous indignation of a Martin Luther King Jr. becomes a moment in political calculation and that makes my blood boil.”
It is extremely hard for me to see the political calculation in reference to this historic moment. But I guess that if West's intention was to find evidence in a fault finding mission he was most certainly going to find evidence to support his misguided hypothesis. The real question is, would Dr. King have been proud to witness the election of the first African- American president of the United States.
I would say unequivocally yes. How could any patriotic American not be proud? Especially one who fought for truth, justice, and equality. Dr. King was not a crab in a barrel, and we all live as we do today because we stand on his broad shoulders.