Tavis Smiley Blasts Obama: ‘Black Folk Don’t Need Lectures’

Tavis Smiley Blasts Obama: ‘Black Folk Don’t Need Lectures’

PBS host Tavis Smiley criticized President Obama, declaring “black folk don’t need lectures” and for lecturing black people while joking with Steven Colbert in a larger discussion on race in America on Monday’s “Hannity” on the Fox News Channel.

“With all due respect to our President Barack Obama, black folk don’t need lectures on Black Entertainment Television. You go to Black Entertainment Television, Mr. President, respectfully, to lecture black folk and then you’re wrong, respectfully, when you tell them that these things take time…stop telling black folk they[‘ve] got to wait, and that these things take time…Number two, Mr. President, respectfully, when you say we can’t compare what’s happening now to what happened fifty years ago, tell that to the parents of these kids who are being gunned down in america’s streets. It is open season on black men, and it is in many ways as bad as it was fifty years ago. And finally, here’s my point, why go to BET and give black folk a lecture but go to Stephen Colbert and tell jokes?” he stated. 

Earlier, Hannity asked Smiley what evidence he had that the Brown and Garner cases were based on race, to which Smiley said “racism is still, is still the most intractable issue in this country, it’s a part of everything we do still. Number two, too often black men, I know this personally even as a host on national television, as black men too often we’re seen as the boogeyman and the presumption of guilt is always made towards us as opposed to being presumed innocent. Number two, and number three, the clip you played earlier from Mayor de Blasio (D, New York City) is right, when too many parents in this country in 2014 still have to have the talk with their black sons for how to save and protect their own lives, something is amiss, Sean.” When Hannity followed-up Smiley seemed to state that he couldn’t speculate on those specific cases, but did know about racism in general in the US.

Later, he argued “with regard to Mr. Brown, when you hear Officer Wilson in his testimony refer to him as a demon and describe him in the way that he did, we go back to my earlier point, Sean, that too often black men are already presumed guilty and that officers, not all, but too many, come at us with an approach that already raises the level of tension before you get to the unfortunate and untimely death of Mr. Brown in Ferguson. It’s the way we are viewed too often from Jump Street number one. Number two, with regard to the Eric Garner case even if, for the sake of argument, I’m not going to do this, but if for the sake of argument, I granted out everything you just said about Michael Brown, how in the case of Eric Garner, Sean Hannity, my friend, do you have an officer doing something, a technique, a chokehold, that is unlawful.” Hannity then disputed Smiley’s claim that the NYPD used a chokehold on Garner and pointed out that chokeholds are not illegal, just against department policy, a point the two battled back and forth over for a while. Although, Hannity did say that he thought that the NYPD shouldn’t have bothered Garner for selling untaxed cigarettes and that Garner “did not deserve the force in that case,” while also arguing that Garner resisting arrest did contribute to his death.

Smiley then accused Hannity of not caring about Garner’s death, before the two then attempted to talk over each other, before Smiley re-gained the floor and claimed that white people talked down to black people, as evidenced by Hannity telling Smiley he needed to be educated on the subject, to which Hannity claimed he says that to everyone. 

After Smiley gave his criticism of Obama, and Hannity said the president was 0-3 on high-profile criminal cases, the two battled after it seemed the interview had concluded after Hannity brought up that Smiley had invited Louis Farrakhan to his conferences. Although, the fight didn’t seem to be completely serious as both men smiled and laughed during and after that exchange.

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett