Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Things I Learned From Watching MSNBC's "Obama's America"

Recent news that Tavis Smiley was cancelling his annual Negro SoundByte Olympics barely sent a ripple through the black blogosphere. I think most folks, like me, saw the annual State Of The Black Union extravaganza as little more than a bunch of educated Negroes in nice suits pontificating about nothing. Sure, it shole is good seeing coloreds on the teevee, especially when those colored aren't named Ray J or Neffie, but reality is, SOTBU was a great idea that's been rendered irrelevant by the advent of black blogs and talk radio. There are lots of other places to share our opinions, and read others' opinions on those opinions in real time, on the daily now. There's no need to wait till February, and no need to find some predatory lender to underwrite the cost of Cornell West's veggie platter anymore.

Still, that doesn't stop cable news outlets from putting on their own versions of televised race-fests every now and then. CNN did the much maligned Black In America series. Fox News gave a few Negroes MetroCards and Gray's Papaya to hold court with Glenn Beck. MSNBC obviously wants in on this hot action, and thus, their live two-hour special Obama's America, which aired Monday night.

I still don't get the point of these shows. There's lots of big words, and lots of degrees, and lots of nice suits, but in the end, it all adds up to lots of talking and little doing.

But what, if anything, can the AverageBro take away from these sorts of shows?

Tom Joyner Is Not Very Bright - And by bright, I mean in the "smarts" sense, not the "lightskinnded" sense, because he's obviously very bright in that regard. While I give Joyner credit for having the big name and influence necessary to pull this whole thing off, I have to ask "what the heck of substance does he ever add to a conversation"?!? He's like a designated driver. You can't talk too much sh*t about him, because he's the one with the keys, but boy does he get on your nerves.

Chris Matthews Is Very Comfortable Around "The Blacks" - I'll give Matthews a lot of credit. Sure, the guy is his own running joke sometimes, but it takes guts to pull together this sort of symposium, then show up and act as the clueless moderator, who's eager to learn. When you contrast this with Beck's special, where he basically taxied in a bunch of sycophants, then proceeded to lecture them about what Negroes need to do, Matthews kept a respectful distance and asked thoughtful questions where necessary. Otherwise, he let the others run the show, as they should.

Between Matthews, the lovely Tamron Hall, and David Gregory's weird obsession with Mary J. Blige, I'd be willing to bet CNBC's Christmas party is pretty cool. Provided Pat Buchanan isn't invited, of course. Major buzzkill, that guy.

John McWhorter Is One Creepy Dude - Sorry, but something about that guy creeps me out. How is it possible to talk and have only your mouth (but none of the rest of your face) move? Weird dude. Just weird.

Where Are The White People?!? - I understand making blacks the focus of this race-related forum, given MLK day and all, but damn, at what point does the echo chamber get repetitive? America doesn't have a problem discussing race. White America has a problem discussing race, and until I see a similar forum with folks of all hues being open and honest about this country's problem, the dialogue will never advance.

Black People Just Luurve To Talk - Seriously, how much pointless rambling is going on here? I love Melissa Harris Lacewell's writing just as much as the next man, but c'mon, do you have a clue what the hell she's talking about in this clip? Me neither. On the bright side, as least Michael Eric Dyson, noted Intellectual Masturbator himself, wasn't invited. I wouldn't have made it past the first segment.

Stephen A. Smith's Hairline Is Atrocious - C'mon bruh. I want to take you seriously, I really do. But what the hell is up with that mini half-fro? You look like an HBCU Chancellor, not a serious brother with an informed opinion. Go get yourself one of those Steve Harvey Collection™ hairpieces, or just grab a pair of Wahls and be done with it. Let it go already. Marcus Houston, Mario, and Flo-Rida are crying inside.

We Ain't Gettin' No Reparations - Sorry, bruh. Your 40 acres and a mule were spent on that zoot suit and Kangol. And you should go back to the Galleria and ask for a refund.

Nobody Has A Solution For Anything - After two hours of this show, I walked away knowing nothing new about how to solve the complex issues that trouble the black community. There were plenty of $10 words, plenty of nice suits, and plenty of impressive titles on display here, but nary a tangible solution to be heard.

And I suppose that's the point of these shows anyway. After all, if we had the answers, what would they have left to discuss?!?

Question: Did you see "Obama's America"?!? What do you generally think of these televised discussions/debates on race? Are they informative, or merely the Intellectual Masturbation competition of The Negro Soundbyte Olympics?

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