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We Are Family


When Tavis Smiley let us know he wanted to make an announcement on the TJMS, we opened the doors as we would any family member. And Tavis, being Tavis, burst in like he’d never left.

By the time he was done letting us know about his new and improved, but kind of similar State of the Black Union-type event to be televised somewhere on March 20th, the texters, tweeters and callers were blowing up their technology of choice. The messages ran the gamut from “It’s good to have Tavis back” to “Tavis needs psychological help.” And that’s the thing about Tavis and why he’s great on the radio. Whether you love him or hate him, one thing’s for sure: You’ll be talking about him.

I don’t agree with everything Tavis says or does, but I love him because he’s family. You have someone like that in your family, too. We all do.

“He’s using you, Tom.” “He’s been gone all this time, and now, when he has something to announce, he comes on your show, and you just allow it.” Yep. And I wouldn’t turn him down any more than you’d turn away your brother if he showed up at the house after a couple of years.

When the family preacher, Rev. Al Sharpton, called in, he had to check Brother Tavis – in love. I know you couldn’t really hear the love, but it was there. You know how I know? Because we’re family. We can get angry, ugly, critical and even unreasonable at breakfast, and be laughing again by dinner time.

I say all that to say this: What happened on the TJMS yesterday happened because both Rev. Al and Tavis are about as passionate as they come about issues that are important to black America. They may take different routes to get there, but in the end, they are in the same place, fighting to make things better for us.

You can try to keep the fire going if you want to. You can fan the flames by talking about what Tavis’ motives are or aren’t or whether Rev. Al let his ego get the best of him. You can keep it going for as long as you want. But don’t let it distract you so much that you lose sight of what’s really important. The economy, the job market, the rising cost of health care, and the war have a bigger impact on us than it does any other group. Tavis and Rev. Al agree that President Obama’s agenda has got to include a strategy that will bring African-Americans up from where we are to a place we need to be – not just to survive, but to thrive.

Those of us who really care and are advocates for change won’t let a few heated words turn us around. We will move forward – working, marching, laughing, crying and praying together, like family. Because that’s who we are.