Over at What About Our Daughters, Gina’s post Tavis Smiley: Black Bloggers Second Class Citizens engendered quite a lot of discussion among your JJP bloggers and we thought it might be of interest to you. The State of the Black Union or SOBU has become high profile and it became national news earlier this year when Hillary Clinton attended, Barack Obama didn’t and when Smiley gave Michelle Obama’s offer to participate the backhand. Doh! Tavis must be rethinking that smooth move right about now.

Here’s Tavis’ description of his contest which is intended to promote the popular State of the Black Union.

Bloggers, here is your chance to become a Web Star! For the 10th annual State of the Black Union 2009 symposium, hosted and moderated annually by broadcaster Tavis Smiley, we’re offering the opportunity for ONE special blogger to sit on stage and ask the important questions of panelists in our first and exclusive live Webcast!

Oooo — how exciting. I’m all a-quiver. NOT…

Look Tavis – if you’re gonna step to black bloggers, ya best step correct. More on the contest and how we feel about it after the jump.

Global Grind also picked up the story. Here’s Gina’s take on Tavis Smiley’s Blog Contest:

You enter, write a frigging essay and then have your readers vote and then they select the winner by random drawing??? SO you promote Tavis’ event. Engage your readers and then roll the dice to see if your name gets pulled out of a hat. Um, y’all read the contest rules again and break it down for me.

Imagine yourself hanging out for the weekend and engaging in dialogue with figures such as Dr. Cornel West or Danny Glover or maybe even Nikki Giovanni and Earvin “Magic” Johnson. Imagine what that means for your Web site, your blog… your career! 

Whoever wrote this doesn’t understand bloggers.You see Tavis believes that he has the power to make you a web star by giving you the privilege of asking Dick Gregory, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and the usual list of suspects from the Civil Rights Industrial Complex and the Black Elite Establishment for Tavis Smiley’s annual State of the Black Union.

Tavis thinks that what makes us “special” as bloggers is being singled out when what makes us special are our relationships to other people.

Basically, it’s an open question out there — is Tavis Smiley insulting the influence and intelligence of black bloggers through this “contest”. Who benefits most from this contest? Is Tavis and his team actually sincere in wishing to engage with black bloggers and is this just misguided? I was interviewed by Tavis’ producers at the Democratic National Convention.

The truth is that Tavis should be begging us to sit on stage with him not the other way around. We are the rising voices. We are the ones who have stepped forward and put it on the line – unpaid, y’all – to try and do what our so-called black leaders too often aren’t doing. Which is say something and do something when we see something. We didn’t start this to become “famous”. We started this blog because we care and had a feeling that there might be a few people out there like us who care too.

Tavis should be looking to figure out who’s who, not through a contest but through dialogue. One third of the 10 most popular blogs targeted at African-Americans are political - alongside top blogs around music and entertainment. We reach millions of people together. Our traffic is off the chart and our server crashed 3 times during the election runup. WE ARE NOW PART OF THE STATE OF THE BLACK UNION. We should be invited to join the conversation and asked for our opinion and for our help rather than invited to compete amongst ourselves for Tavis’ favor. Intended or not, it feels kinda like an insult to us and an insult to you that it’s not clear Tavis Smiley gets that. Especially when you know what, there is a black leader who does get that and his name is Barack Obama.

I’ll quote Jack Turner here:

This ain’t a YouTube contest. We are activists and journalists and it really does bug me that they’re treating this like American Idol. It ain’t about celebrity, and the premise that it is seems to be a fatal flaw in this idea.

I don’t know if I consider myself an “activist” or a “journalist”. I’m just a concerned citizen who happens to represents a few other concerned citizens in this country. Gina McCauley is a concerned citizen too. And when you google “Tavis Smiley Blog Contest”, her post criticizing it is the 3rd link you’ll find after Tavis’ page and the Global Grind page. Wonder where JJP’s post on this will land in Google. See — this is what he fails to understand — that there’s a new game in town.

BUT maybe we be trippin’ on this – I dunno. What do you think about Tavis’ contest? Send him and us a message in the comments.

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