The truth is that there are a whole bunch of people who want success, but they usually want it for free. These brothers understand that you usually have to pay a high price to get what you want.
We were discussing the case of Heather Ellis. Heather Ellis is a 24-year old college student now facing 15-years in prison after being accused of cutting line at a Walmart. We are planning a rally for Heather in Kennett, MO on November 16, with thousands coming from around the nation in order to save her life. Tom Joyner, Roland Martin, and Michael Baisden are just a few of the names of brothers and sisters around the nation willing to step up to tell Heather's story to the public.
After the show was done, I called my assistant and confidant Shauntay, in order to talk about the events planned for the day. Shauntay is a stern reminder to me that you are only as good as the people who work for you, and she is the greatest assistant on Earth. During our conversation, Shauntay asked me, "Did you notice how they seemed to get nervous and rush you off at the end?"
I said, "Yeah, I noticed that. But I don't blame them, I might have done the same thing."
Why was I rushed off at the end of the segment? It all has to do with Walmart being one of the key corporate sponsors for the Tom Joyner Morning Show. During the interview, I first mentioned that it was reported as far away as Memphis that Walmart employees were being asked not to discuss the Heather Ellis incident. Tom started to deflect the conversation away from the merchant.
"Well, that could have happened in any store, right?" said Tom.
I then went on to explain that, while it could have happened in any store, there was no getting away from the fact that it happened in Walmart: A Walmart employee was the one who chose not to serve Heather after accusing her of cutting line, the family reports that nearly every Walmart employee involved in the incident has been transferred to another store, and there are Walmart employees on the affidavits filed after the incident took place. There is no way to disconnect Walmart from this incident.
Unlike our supporters in Detroit, who are ready to boycott Walmart and stage a complete "black out" of the store, I have not asked for such a thing. Instead, I've only requested that Walmart use its influence to help Heather during her trial. I honestly believe that one sincere phone call from the right executive can make this situation go away. A daughter of a pastor, in college, with no criminal record is hardly the kind of thug that should be rotting away in the penitentiary. Anyone can understand that.
This discussion of The Tom Joyner Morning Show is not a negative reflection on the righteousness of Tom Joyner or his choice of having Walmart as a corporate sponsor (if it were Wells Fargo, then we might have an issue). The incident is reflective of how the power of media is driven by corporate sponsorship. Given that corporate sponsors controlled by the descendants of the historical oppressors of black people are financing most African-American media, the ability to pursue true and meaningful activism is sometimes muted. In other words, nobody disrespects their daddy, especially if their daddy is the one putting food on the table. The life of one black woman is not, to some, worth the loss of millions of dollars in corporate money (I do not agree with this assessment). One of the limitations of capitalism is that it forces us to put a dollar value on human life. I personally think human life has infinite value, and that is why I am fighting for Heather.
The audio to the Tom Joyner Morning Show appearance is below if you'd like to listen:
Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Finance Professor at Syracuse University and author of "Black American Money." To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.