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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

REASON #501 WHY I WON'T ATTEND THE SOTBU ANYMORE

I like to know if you're going to pimp me. Hat tip to Big Man at Raving Black Lunatic for this post:

Y'all know this weekend in New Orleans they had this little thing called the State of the Black Union hosted by Tavis Smiley.

Smiley invited several black "leaders" and politicians to discuss topics of interest regarding the black community. Regular citizens were invited to attend for free to rub shoulders with the elite and make sure the crowd looked good on C-Span.

Only it turns out the event wasn't really free.

Now, there wasn't actually an admission fee. But, every attendee had to register online to get into the New Orleans Convention Center. And that, as they say, was the catch.

See, Tavis, being the wily business man that he is, required prospective attendees to fill out extensive questionnaires to register. Not only did these surveys ask for individuals' addresses, phone numbers and email addresses, but they also required much more detailed information.

Attendees had to list how many times they ate out every week, which restaurants they ate at, how much money they made, which auto insurance company they used and a host of other questions that clearly delineated their income levels and spending habits. In fact, if a prospective attendee left any question blank, they were promptly told they couldn't register.

Now, some of you may wonder how this qualifies as an admission fee. Well, as a friend of mine explained it to me, those surveys were likely converted into detailed mailing lists that Tavis either provided free to his sponsors (lovely companies like McDonalds, Allstate and Wal-Mart) or sold to other interested parties looking to tap into the black market. In fact, Tavis most likely kept some of the info for himself in order to better market his next self-help book or video for the black community. After all, there was some fine print that said that if you signed up all your info became property of Mr. Covenant to do with as he wished.

According to my friend, just for the names and addresses alone Tavis could get $5-$10 a head. Considering there were thousands of folks at the conference, that's no chump change. But, the real money is in selling specially culled lists to those individuals looking to get the best bang for their marketing buck.

If you're State Farm looking to attract new customer, you ask for all the individuals who use another insurance company and make sure they get a nice call from a telemarketer at dinner time. Or, say you're a credit card company look for some new suckers, I mean customers, now you know who loves to shop and how much money they make. Whether by selling part of the list or the whole thing, Tavis has an opportunity to make a pretty penny off those individuals who were looking for enlightenment on the state of the black community.

Now, I don't know about y'all, but I find it funny that the same man who was quick to call Obama out for taking black people for granted or trying use our votes to win the election without addressing our issues is pimping out black people to the highest bidder. There is something a tad bit unseemly about a man who pretends to be putting on an event for the edification of black folks when he's really trying to assemble a valuable mailing list on the cheap.

You know, Smiley and several elected officials spent a lot of time complaining that their Negro bona fides had come under attack because they supported Clinton instead of Obama. They noted that it was ridiculous for black people to expect each other to think and act in lockstep.

They were right about that.

But, they missed the point that black folks weren't mad at them for thinking differently, they were mad at them for co-signing the despicable racist tactics of Hillary's campaign. They were mad at them for being willing to sell out our community for funding for their pet projects. See, black people have far too much experience at being used not to be able to pick a hustler out of the crowd, and the only thing we hate more than a hustler is a hustler who tells us he's bilking us for our own good.

So, the next time Tavis decides to climb his ass up on his mangy, knock-kneed high horse I want everybody to know that all his grand talk about being a caretaker of black interests is bullshit.

He done already sold us out.


From the Christian Progressive Liberal:

I've attended three of the SOTBU's and can verify that when you register to attend, while it is free admission, you have to supply all that information in responding to the questions the registration form asks - otherwise the computer will not accept your registration and you can't get in to the event.

I've often wondered why that was. Now it appears Mr. Smiley is not above collecting marketing information on his people and selling it to the highest bidder.

You want our money for goods and services, and you still want to diss us while taking our hard-earned cash, facilitated by Smiley and the SOTBU. Bootstrapping for fun and profit.

The irony is, if Tavis hadn't decided to engage in hateration of Barack Obama, we probably wouldn't have looked at his methods, or his motives for hosting this event every year, but because he decided to tote water for Obama's race-baiting opponent, Senator Hillary Clinton, Tavis Smiley succeeded in getting Black America to do something he probably wishes we wouldn't.

He is facilitating the very demand of accountability from us that he's demanding from Obama. If you're not willing to be held equally accountable, Tavis, fold up your traveling minstrel show and go home. We're watching you now, bro, and it's not pretty to find out you're not above using the very people you claim to love by gathering marketing information about us and selling it to those who want our money, but don't honor and respect us. No amount of Wal-Mart showboating with an African-American History Exhibit for the next five years will clean up the slime or stench that leaves behind.

Shame on you, Tavis, for not considering our intelligence above that of your corporate masters. You've sold out in the worst possible way, and you're not qualified to call out anyone on anything you're not willing to be called out on yourself.

It might be time for you to fold up your tent and go home with this traveling minstrel show, while opening the doors for someone else to host this forum and get things done. The days of shucking and jiving are over and we can't afford you anymore.

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7 Comments:

Blogger Shazza Nakim said...

I read your Blog post and I have attended the SOTBU and I have my own views about the event but I would like to ask:

How much you you think it cost to pull and event of that magnitude together?

Historically Black organizations and media outlets have struggles for years to stay afloat with limited resources (and this is including the few wealthy donators that do it consistantly) so they have to rely on Private sponsorship .. which often has to trade-off ganuntee. With that being said, you can't fault a group that wants to donate $20-$80,000 dollars just to hold the meeting areas or the programs, the food and or the transportation.

The serveys are not manditory by LAW you can simply write DO NOT CONTACT and you will not. This is common knowledge BUT as People of Color we either are not exposed or pay attention to the small print in things Government. A company having you personal into is no a requirement and yet many people who do attend do not know that many of the services offered exist so if you decide to give that information that is your choice. Tavis BY LAW does not and cannot SELL YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION. That is something you have to accept as an individual.

The fact that C-SPAN covers the convention for free, the overall cost is cut by MILLIONS of dollars.

As for Wal-Mart's involvement, this is not different than the advertisements of McDonalds, or Ford, Phillip Morris, Bacardi the United States Army and I can go on in Black magazines, HBCU scholarships, Churches, after school and summer programs. We may not like it but they exist and we, like all other People of Color take advantage of them.

I am not knocking your point of view because you have a few that I do accept BUT as a Person of Color that fight hard to do events like a Tavis Smiley, those Black folk that Back Seat on the Movement to Uplift, often come at those that do the WORK in ways that are unfair and is mostly due to ignorance of what we do without ASKING. If you really want to know where the money went, YOU CAN ASK FOR IT ... the Freedom of Information Act gives you that RIGHT TO KNOW.

8:30 PM  
Blogger Shazza Nakim said...

I read your Blog post and I have attended the SOTBU and I have my own views about the event but I would like to ask ...

How much do you you think an event like the Union cost to coordinate?

Historically Black organizations and media outlets have struggles for years to stay afloat with limited resources (and this is including the few wealthy donators that do it consistantly) so they have to rely on Private sponsorship .. which often has a trade-off agreement build into them. There is nothing free when companies are giving you start up funds which begin the second the previous Union ends. With that being said, you can't fault a group that wants to donate $20-$80,000 dollars to just to hold the meeting areas or the programs for publishing, the food and or the transportation.

The surveys are not manditory by LAW so you can simply write DO NOT CONTACT and you will not. This is common knowledge BUT as People of Color we either are not exposed or pay attention to the small print in things Government. A company having your personal info is no a requirement and yet many people who do attend do not know that many of the services offered exist so if you decide to give that information that is your choice.

Tavis BY LAW does not and cannot SELL YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION. That is something you have to accept to do as an individual.

The fact that C-SPAN covers the convention for free, the overall cost is cut by MILLIONS of dollars. if it wasn't, the average price of admission whould go from Free or hundreds of dollars.

As for Wal-Mart's involvement, this is no different than the advertisements of McDonalds, or Ford, Phillip Morris, Bacardi the United States Army and I can go on in Black magazines, HBCU scholarships, Churches, after school and summer programs. We may not like it but they exist and we, like all other People of Color take advantage of them.

I am not knocking your point of view because you have a few that I do accept BUT as a Person of Color that fight hard to do events like a Tavis Smiley, those Black folk that Back Seat on the Movement to Uplift, often come at those that do the WORK in ways that are unfair and is mostly due to ignorance of what we do without ASKING. If you really want to know where the money went, YOU CAN ASK FOR IT ... the Freedom of Information Act gives you that RIGHT TO KNOW.

8:36 PM  
Blogger Torrance Stephens bka All-Mi-T said...

Tavis and Cornell West are a conundrum to me , 40 on 40

8:36 PM  
Blogger Big Man said...

Nakim

Come on now. Very few people knew that the price of their attendance was a to get sold out to telemarketers.

You can say "Well educate yourselves" and just absolve Smiley of blame. \

He's the one claiming to be educating us! So he needs to be the one to disclose exactly why he's gathering our info and who he's giving it to. That's the least we can demand.

I don't care how much the event costs. If you're going to hold yourself up as a paragon of black virtue, then walk the walk.

10:34 AM  
Blogger Shazza Nakim said...

OK let me just make this simple ...

There was a Rally in South Carolina hosted by Oprah Winfrey. Her theme and purpose .. to introduce Barak Obama to the people of the State (and the World) in grand fashion. Most people came to get an opportunity to see the Goddess O but HER POWER THAT BE produced an event for SC to see American's new Son, President O.

The question: Do you think that names and addresses weren't collected and used? Do you think the people mind? Maybe? Maybe Not?

My point is this, whenever you see anything on it with SPONSORSHIP in America and you are using your name or any method that connects your name and your finances, you will be listed for contact. You may be right that most people do not know this but the information for OPTING out to be contacted is constantly in the media and is often IGNORED. Just remember, you don't have to SIGN anything.

As for TAVIS "Selling" attendee's personal information is JUST NOT TRUE. His organization CAN'T. Selling this type of information is illegal. Now if representative of those SPONSORS illicit your information and you conform, then you are opened to be contacted. That is Common Sense. The same activities used for Sponsors are the same as in all Conventions, Sporting Events, non-Profits etc. across the country. Only those that take part and DO NOT READ THE SMALL PRINT will sign over their phone/e-mail privacy. It is power-for-the-course to have the Union financed since it takes Millions to pull it off and still keep the cost low enough so that the common person like You and I can attend.

5:40 PM  
OpenID tallulahbankhead said...

but Shazza...
no one forces Tavis Smiley to hold the SOTBU conferences...
he chooses to do so.
and why he can't he do it without requiring all this marketing information from the attendees?

Of course if I attended the sOTBU, I would lie on the questionnaire which is what I do for every marketing survey.
It makes it fun for me.

10:36 PM  
Blogger Shazza Nakim said...

You know, maybe I am taking your comments out of context but that was a very disparaging response to a Black Man dedicated to his community.

Tavis Smiley, as a Black Man who has a non-negotiable COMMITMENT to Black Peoples as well as having a proven commitment to the HISTORICAL EDUCATION OF AFRICAN PEOPLE IN DIASPORA AND THE AMERICAS. This you cannot debate, undercut, take away or condemn .. and yet you still have those that believe that someone with action, drive and forthcoming can actually have an idea and follow through can be criticized for it.

You are correct, NO ONE FORCES TAVIS SMILEY TO DO THE SOTBU but he does. No one asked him to do it the SOTBU, but he does. No one asks leaders and activist, helpers and healers to do many things BUT THEY DO.

There are three types of people in the World; Those that Do, Those the Don't, and those that Complain. In the Black community, we have many who are conditioned to Complain or wait until they get direction to do something. The SOTBU represents those that Do (regardless of your social, political, economic, religious, age and or cultural interests) so that those who don't KNOW, want to KNOW or how to get the information so that they will KNOW can come with the "Guarantee" that what they learn and experience will help inspire DOING.

So why must TAVIS have advertisers? THAT IS A NO BRAINER. Who will pay for the Annual Event? Again one who says .. "if you are a Do'er I am quite sure TAVIS' organization would love to hear alternative ways to pay for this Multi-million dollar affair", BUT until then, like sporting events, social events, concerts, (and people forget Marketing and Advertisers are always involved in many BLACK EVENTS) even MEGA CHURCHES all have advertisers and marketers involved in their sponsorships.

It just amazes me that within the PAST YEAR there is this movement within the Black Community to condemn and attack the positive works that Tavis Smiley is doing. I Blogged about it earlier this week on this phenomenon (THE POWER OF THE FEW OR THE ONE) and you have to ask yourself ... who are the people pushing this agenda and what do they get out of it?

8:57 AM  

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