Tavis Smiley, the PBS talk show host investigated and suspended for sexual misconduct allegations by employees last December, has started a town halls tour about sexual harassment across the nation. He kicked off the tour with “The Conversation: Women, Men and the Workplace” at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center in Los Angeles Monday night, the Los Angeles Times reported.
With the tour, Smiley has ample public opportunity to deny the allegations again. Did anyone think about his alleged victims? Who thought this was a good idea? This is confusing AF.
Well, Smiley must know the inevitable backlash that will haunt him over this tour. Yes, we need to have the conversation about harassment, but it’s a definite problem when the accused try to lead that conversation, many people have said on social media.
In spite of the opposition, Smiley is going through with his plan. He is next traveling to New Orleans, Washington D.C., Chicago and Indianapolis.
Smiley is expectedly having trouble finding panelists, who are “dropping like flies,” at “The Faith Community of Saint Sabina” in Chicago for his Thursday event, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. The Rev. Michael Pfleger, who has made a name as a social activist, gave the green light to Smiley to come and host the event in the Chi. Pfelger offered this explanation about the event:
“If we don’t get down to the roots of it — to know that we ought not to be using sex to sell products — we ought to make sure that young girls are being respected and deal with the whole nine yards,” Pfleger said. “We are staying on the surface. If we don’t look at some of the roots and causes, the movement will run its course and nothing will change.”
Pfleger touches on the fact that the solutions-driven dialogue about assault is vital, but putting Smiley on the stage can easily prioritize the accused’ defense over the victims’ feelings. It’s worth noting that Smiley’s company, Smiley Group, which organized the town halls describes itself as “a communications corporation established in support of human rights and related empowerment issues.” Wow, this is so frustrating.
Ironically, PBS will launch a five-part town hall series about sexual harassment titled #MeToo, Now What?” on Friday. Smiley could most likely benefit from stepping off the stage, watching the PBS series and taking notes.