Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Did Melissa Harris-Perry Go too Far by Calling Tavis Smiley "the Nurse Who Aided and Abetted the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment?"

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The black family is strong here, with Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry giving the hot tag to her husband to set up Tavis Smiley for a spine buster a la Arn Anderson circa 1985.

I agree with the facts of her critique: Melissa's observation that Tavis Smiley was a middleman for mortgage fraud by the banking industry against black and brown communities is spot on.

Dr. Perry's allusion is also grounded historically--during Jim and Jane Crow it was common for white real estate agents who were engaged in "blockbusting" to send black families door to door in (then) exclusively white neighborhoods. Their presence would scare white people with the prospect of "racial integration." The mark was softened up. The con was turned when the white real estate agent could make an offer to buy the house because "the blacks" were moving in. The same real estate agent would then charge a premium to African-Americans who want to move into the same neighborhood.

But, to call Tavis Smiley the equivalent of the nurse who aided and abetted the infamous Tuskegee Syphilis Experiments is a lethal dagger. I have not seen such a damning turn of phrase in many years on national TV; it is the equivalent of some Mark Twain verbal sonning circa the 19th century.

There is lots of bad blood between Melissa, Tavis, and Brother West. One day the full details will come to light. For now, we only have rumors and guesses as to what is really driving the feud. How will West and Smiley respond? And do you think Professor Harris-Perry went too far?

I love a good fracas. The response by West and Smiley is going to be mighty entertaining.


Shady_Grady said...

Gets some popcorn and waits for the blowback that will make the Sonny Corleone hit look like a love tap....

chaunceydevega said...

@Shady. I think the brass knuckles are being put on--they were using rubber hoses before for fear of leaving a mark. We shall see--hopefully the fracas will be a crucible for the truth.

Black Sage said...

Wow, I didn’t know that Tavis Smiley is a crooked brotha. He’s actually in bed with scandalous and discriminatory Wells Fargo targeting poor people. On the other hand, I believe that Dr. Perry went far beyond a little overboard when she referred to Tavis as being “the Nurse who aided abetted the Tuskegee Syphilis experiment.” Tavis does appear to be back-sliding, however, the Tuskegee incident was outright devilish!

Razor said...

Without question the Perry's were striking back...real hard...as retribution for the verbal body blows that Tavis & West were deservedly hitting her with over her fawning capitulation and failure to critiqe President Obama's slavish service to the corporate elite while ignoring black folk.

However, if what her husband said about Tavis playing set-up for the Wells Fargo fleecing of black folk...well...he deserved it. Particularly if he's going on these Poverty Tours. That would be the height of hypocrisy!

I have just one question, Are there no honest prominent black leaders left?

wavenstein said...

I got no love for Tavis. But I cannot go along with comparing a real estate scammer to what was effectively government sanctioned murder. Harris-Perry took it too far in this instance.

CNu said...

I have just one question, Are there no honest prominent black leaders left?


leading talkers should be distinguished from talking leaders. as regards the former, one need only look at the sponsors and extent of sponsorship to determine the level of real and potential mendacity.

As for the latter, I'm not aware of any who are sponsored exclusively by their constituents and would therefore qualify as legitimate and accountable black leaders.

aspergum said...

How about Cornel West?

Does his association with Smiley automatically disqualify him? With Ivy League Lily White Elite America? With . . . ?

I prefer to listen to what leaders say and watch what they do. So far for me, West still qualifies as a credible leader. As for effective, well, he needs more mainstream attention for that.

Historiann said...

I'm disappointed to hear that Tavis Smiley was bought and paid for, but to this extent I think it's certainly unfair to compare him to the Tuskeegee Nurse: he was compensated much more generously than she was, I am sure, and he certainly had the option to say "no," when I don't know that working-class black folk (esp. black women) had the option to tell an employer "no" and keep her job. Moreover, it's my understanding that Eunice Rivers & other African American staff believed that the study would be beneficial to its participants--they weren't mini- Mengeles who knew exactly what was going on.

So, I would instead argue that the comparison is unfair to the Tuskeegee nurse and other African American staffers who assisted with the infamous syphilis study.

CNu said...



Historiann just clowned an entire leading talker posse!!!

Accept no substitutes....,

Anonymous said...

I always liked the Tavis show on my local PBS station, but didn't care for the fact that it began and ended with long commercial spots for Walmart, the low-wage king.

I just saw this headline: "Walmart, the largest gun seller in the United States, on Monday removed the Bushmaster Patrolman's Carbine M4A3 from its website" in response to Sandy Hook.

- Buddy H.

Black Sage said...

@Razor, the only Black person that I'd consider a Black leader and sincerely has the interest of Black folks at the center of his heart, is the Hon. Minister Louis Farrakhan. The rest of today's self described Black leaders need to place themselves on standby and in close proximity to the entrance of the political grave yard.

Minister Farrakhan will never sell-out, this is why he's not mainstream.

CNu said...


Razor said...

CNu, good point regarding leading talkers vs, talking leaders.

Black Sage, who can argue with you on Minister Farrakhan, who also rather wisely stays out of the way of these wayward self-interested negroes. Farrakhan also knows that these are some hellacious times to criticize the corporate frauds he knows that Obama and many of the other leading blacks have become. I would be shocked if he would involve himself right now with any of them in any way.

nomad said...

I'll take my hyperbole with a grain of salt, please. Erbody got some dirty laundry. The measure of black leadership is if the good they do outweighs the bad. Much kudos to Tavis for putting poverty in the spotlight and critiquing the black fraud president. I'm cutting the brother a lot of slack.

Constructive Feedback said...

[quote] Melissa's observation that Tavis Smiley was a middleman for mortgage fraud by the banking industry against black and brown communities is spot on.[/quote]

My Dear Friend Mr DeVega:

WHY do you and Dr Perry focus on TAVIS SMILEY but NOT the various "Hip Hop Voice Of The Street Pirate" Radio Stations that held a countless number of "Radio Remotes" at new subdivisions with the draw: "Why rent when you can own? We have mortgage specialists on hand to get you into a home TODAY!"

The "Concerned Black Clergy Of Atlanta" has a partnership with Wells Fargo Bank regarding financial education.

I REJECT your notion that the parternship with a bank proves EVIL - while a partnership with MSNBC proves "Black Consciousness" - when IN TRUTH they have stolen more consciousness from Black people than has the banks taken our money.

chaunceydevega said...

@Constructive. I have no problem with working with banks. I just don't like to see people get scammed. Nothing complicated. What are you doing for the holidays? Any elaborate charts in the making? Maps? Cartoons?

Constructive Feedback said...

My Dear Friend Chauncey DeVega:

I am currently out of the United States, in a "Black Run Country" (as my bigoted friends over at SBPDL call it).

I am doing "vacation research" - doing comparative economic and cultural analysis between two groups within the Black Diaspora.

I will give you a preview of my research thus far:

* A population of Black people who are charged with delivering the results within a given political domain - still splinter into political parties and blame each other. BUT they don't Blame The White Man for everything as an effective political tactic

* The elite Blacks in a given nation do not live the same lives as those who live "hand to mouth". They focus upon getting "Teeth Whitening" strips instead of where their next meal is going to come from

* Though an island nation might have the stereotype for violence - this propensity is limited to certain areas BUT the "Black government" ultimately proves unable to correct what the COMMUNITY needs to do - just like in America

* Black Americans would NEVER agree to the rule where you must show ID at a police road block that is meant to crackdown on crime. If you don't have ID - YOU GET ARRESTED

* Worse than a "Mitt Romney poster" or "Anti-Abortion ad" in Da Hood is the advertisement for security services which a picture of an armed security guard pointing his firearm with the caption "Sliver Security Services - Always On Target". IF this same ad was plastered all over the Southside of Chicago there would be more protests against the sign than against the Street Pirates

* THE CHINESE have a vested interest in investing capital in under-developed lands. THEIR PRODUCTS will appear on the shelves, ultimately employing their people back in China with manufacturing jobs.

*Negroes love flat screened televisions EVEN IF every orifice on their house is covered with rod iron bars - regardless of their wealth.