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My Take on Tom Joyner and Tavis Smiley

July 7, 2011

I’ve been overwhelmed by hundreds of inquiries on the issue with Tom and Tavis. So many of you would like to know my take on the situation. Hence, in order to cut down on responding to so many emails, I felt it would be easier to send my perspective.

I always say being emotional has no place in business. I didn’t say emotions has no place, but we can’t be stricken by the emotions we encounter while conducting business it can lead to devastating results. Our president is a public servant, which, I feel, is subject to respectful public critique. I don’t think we should be so defensive when it comes to criticism of him. We’ve been way more disrespectful to other presidents. It makes us look like a temper tantrum group, who can only dish but not digest. Let’s just focus on business at hand and not so much the man.

You’ve read me mention the group I am a presenter of, “Let Us Make Man”. A group of professionals come together every year to present information throughout Georgia. We don’t simply show up the day of the conference. We go through a series of planning and preparation that takes months. This includes a night of “full onslaught-no holds barred critique” of each other’s work. Some people quit, other’s don’t make it. You have to be mature and emotionless to get pass this evening. So many of our elected officials and “so-called” businessmen wouldn’t make it 30 seconds in front of these guys.

However, it makes us sharper and more refined for gameday. It helps us identify vulnerabilities and address issues and situations that may arise the day of. Some get uptight and emotional but at the end of the night we are back in agape love.

Tavis and Cornel may be a little emotional, just as Tom may also be being; and that is what keeps the headlines going – mess. I think a person learns more in failure than they do in success and they learn more in criticism than they do in praise. We have the right to criticize anyone we hire (or vote for). Now, the way we do so is what makes all the difference in the outcome: love or hate.

See you in the trenches,
Professor Devin Robinson

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Lucy permalink
    July 7, 2011 4:00 pm

    Dear Devin

    It’s all in your very last sentence: “The way we do it…” !!!

    I can appreciate the sensitive situation created when we voted for our first black President — is it “disloyal” to his accomplishments as a Black man to critisize his actions as our President? While you can’t remove either one from the totality of the man, I feel the distinction must be made when assessing his Presidency.

    I have not kept up with the specific Joyner/Smiley contretemps; however, I do feel that the President of the United States should be treated with respect, no matter what one’s personal opinion is of his actions, statements, etc. Admittedly, this was diffucult during some past administrations. Nevertheless, you are right about run-away emotions: hot-headedness and talking trash (I am making an assumption that Tavis did something along those lines) never really accomplishes much in the way of a positive moving-forward of the nation, its people — or the world.

    Keep the dialog going… Keep us all thinking.

  2. July 9, 2011 7:44 pm

    Devin, I admire you!

  3. Sanja permalink
    July 11, 2011 10:33 pm

    Unfortunately Mr. Joyner fell into the same hole he was bashing Mr. Smiley and Dr. West of dwelling in and that was publicly rebuking another black man.

    All three men (Joyner, West, Smiley) are victims of a similar fate, no code. Our forefathers had a code. Yes, they sang the ole’ Negro spirituals that appeared to be one thing, yet in actuality was something else. We as a people understood the code and positioned ourselves accordingly [think] underground railroad; while the curious on looker detected nothing.

    I think any level minded modern day American black would sumize President Obama is capable of making poor choices; however, we also feel we can’t be openly honest about that reality with ourselves nor one another; because we know there are always the ” others” that will be looking, listening, waiting and more than willing to count our honesty about ouselves as a weakness and then proceed to beat us with it. This fear drives many of us to excuse/dismiss inappropriate behavior and or poor choices made by those of us, that do so, while being black. This cycle has ruined our credibility. Therfore, at the end of the day one can only conclude Mr. Joyner is more like Mr. Smiley and Dr. West than not, for in that he too (Joyner) publicly denounced a professional, law abiding accomplished black man.

  4. July 14, 2011 1:40 am

    Eloquently put!

  5. August 17, 2011 8:25 pm

    Mr. Smiley and Mr. West have to be commended for what they are trying to do – lift all Americans. Yes, it is true that blacks are baring the greatest burden (19% unemployed) during this economic crisis, but they are speaking for all Americans, especially those that have been locked out of the halls of both the White House and the House of Representatives. Their critique of the President is not unique to Mr. Obama. They have also raised voice to some of the wrong headed policies of Mr. Clinton and Mr. Bush. The notion that their criticism of this president is a new venture is wrong and the record doesn’t reflect that. I know that there are many Blacks out there that want to protect this president from any criticism what so ever. I encourage you to protect him when there is an onslaught of vitriol and negative attacks thrown from the far right. On the other hand, you must not uphold him when he has not lived up to the ideals that he espoused when running for the highest office in the land. The nation’s plight is worsened when you seek to protect him from those that offer criticism in love and respect for him. While I have tremendous respect for Mr. Joyner and Mr. Harvey, they have this one wrong. I know the job he has is very difficult, but Mr. Obama’s constant yield to will of the Republican opposition is the President’s fault. By conceding ground on issue after issue, it has made him appear weak and unprincipled. Unlike Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senator from Kentucky, I believe Mr. Smiley and Mr. West (myself) want Obama to be a very successful president, but we can’t help move in that direction by coddling him, overlooking bad policy decisions and agreements he’s making with those backed corporate elites at our expense.

    K. Eldridge

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