* The Covenant With Black America Introduction by Tavis Smiley Third World Press, February 2006 $12, ISBN 0-883-78277-4
Tavis Smiley, black America's Larry King, says in this book's Introduction that it's not about "us" versus "them" as much as it is about "We, the People." It's a great line, but historically, blacks have had direct and unambiguous opposition to their collective progress. So it's been hard to write an agenda for black America without having to both name its enemies and call for direct confrontation with The Powers That Be, thereby putting them in the metaphorical (if not literal) line of fire. If this book's breadth and tone is any indication, the modern solution to this historic problem is to do neither task--to engage instead in a kind of "activist-lite" that allows all black people to advance without the black middle class forfeiting its hard-earned jobs and SUVs.
Smiley means well and does well. This New York Times best-selling book is an outgrowth of a public call he made for an agenda at last year's "Tavis Smiley Presents: State of the Black Union" annual forum, a recent fixture of C-SPAN's Black History Month coverage. The popular broadcaster displays black solidarity by signing over the book's proceeds to black-owned Third World Press, its publisher.