A black wiry man with a Mississippi gap between his teeth and a “hair expression” split between the style of Don King and the Bride of Frankenstein (Funkadelics style), has been celebrated as our brother and ivy league intellectual for many years. But unfortunately, today, we find ourselves at a crossroads between two highly accomplished black men that we all know and love.
Cornel West of Princeton University’s Center of African American Studies, is a black activist, professor, poet, and literary giant who wrote “Race Matters” and many other tomes that influence not only politics, but also progressive movements, appears to have had his feelings hurt by our President.
He had aligned himself with President Obama throughout his campaign and now is speaking out to the media about what he perceives as personal slights toward him. He spoke to Truthdig.com about his campaign efforts for the President, being shunned during the inauguration, and how he had been essentially, discarded once Obama captured the presidency.
West has taken up somewhat of a crusade along with Tavis Smiley to dissect and criticize the President’s policies on their radio show, Smiley & West. But, the personal problems that burden West and Obama’s relationship seem to be a major component of his criticism of the President and the extremely public feud that appears to be unfolding from West’s remarks.
In the interview with West, he brings out all of the personal transgressions that Obama committed against him. He said that Obama “cussed me out” which didn’t include expletives, but was a chastising nonetheless, at an Urban League dinner. But, he starts hitting below the belt saying that the President is detached from his own brothers saying, “I think my dear brother Barack Obama has a certain fear of free black men.” Basically, he’s calling him a stereotypical scared white man.
But before I go any further showing examples of how offended Cornel West is, I should stop here and say, like any battle, we are only hearing one side. And right here, black people, we’re going to get a little racy. There was a lot of black people who aligned themselves with Obama with a promise in their hearts and heads of what they wanted from him or what they assumed he would do and not what he said he would do.
West has now shown himself to be no better than Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who Obama had once befriended and was a member of his A.M.E. church, with speaking of private issues between them and taking them to the media streets. If there was credible information for the black community as well as the world to glean from his thoughts, they are lost in a veritable temper tantrum over his beef with President Obama.
West makes some really good points, but his motives leave you questioning everything he has to say. And as for his help on the campaign trail, I wonder if Obama actually reached out to him or was this West’s way of getting in the spotlight? Because West, you must admit, you like to work that television and big screen brother!
But the instrumental factor in between the lines of all of his rhetoric about the President and what has gone on between them, is the fact that President Obama would hire Lawrence Summers as his chief economic adviser. This is the same man that would be the reason behind Cornel West’s resignation from Harvard and joining up with Princeton.
Summers questioned West’s scholarship because of his outside pursuits that had nothing to do with the role he played in Harvard’s excellence. West had recorded a CD, he had given lectures, been a part of protests, not to mention his role in the Matrix sequels. And because Summers ignited such a controversy with his “micro management” of West, he ultimately resigned from Harvard as well.
Cornel West has been a beloved member of the community for so long, we would never discount his accomplishments as a scholar of the people. He loves his blackness, but just as the President, he too is a lover of people, not just black people. So, we won’t be choosing sides here today, but it is important that we keep the field leveled and keep things in perspective as we love both of these men and hope that a private reconciliation between the two is reached.
Read Cornel West’s scathing remarks against the President here. The interview marks a sad and disappointing day for both men.