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nilp_national_institute_latino_policy_nyrebog_com_.jpgAnti-Latino Comments at Tavis Smiley's Black Agenda Roundtable?

by National Institute for Latino Policy (NiLP) (March 29, 2010) 

On March 20, 2010, radio personality Tavis Smiley pulled together an impressive national roundtable discussion, "The Black Agenda," in Chicago, to address the major issues facing Blacks/African-Americans in the context of the Obama Presidency. There is an ongoing debate in the Black community about whether or not Presidnt Obama should be addressing an explicitly Black policy agenda or not.

One of the panelists, former Chicago Alderman, Dorothy Tillman , made some troubling remarks about Latinos, to the enthusiastic applause of the audience and whooping approval of Cornell West. Here is what she said:

When you look at our community, our communities are bring gentrified.People are being spread out all over te poace to keep moving,but you be quiet.

You don't talk about the fact that your schools in the City of Chciago . . . they gave the Latino community $98 million to build a school, they close black schools in the City of Chicago. But don't talk about it.

The President of the United States have a Department of Education for Hispanics. We need a Department of Education fo Black people too. I am not knocking them.

And he has someone over there, when he talks about urban affairs where most of your urban cities, Detroit, Gary, Chicago, Ohio, Philadephia, are Black people, he puts a Latino, Hispanic,over there, never even put a Black to balance that out. Are we not supposed to  talk about that?"

Later in the discussion, Tillman discussed how President Obama ignores the Congressional Black Caucus but listens to Hispanic politicians like Congressman Luis Gutierrez. Throughout her remarks she referred to no other racial-ethnic group to describe how Blacks are being marginalized today. No one at the roundtable challenged the divisive nature of these comparisons.
Listen to Tillman's full remarks by clicking here .

What was troubling was that with some of the most prominent leaders and thinkers in the Black community around the table, no one objected to Ms. Tillman's divisive remarks and, in fact, all loudly applauded her. Besides Mr. Smiley, among the other panelists were Jesse Jackson,Julianne Malveaux, Angela Glover Blackwell, Michale Eric Dyson, Ron Walters, and Louis Farakhan, who should all know better.

Is some clarification or apology required to be made to the Latino community? Let's see. 

Tavis Smiley can be reached at ts-info@tavistalks.com .