The Rage of Black Academia: Melissa Harris-Perry and Cornel West, A Collegiate Conundrum

It would have been nice if Dr. Cornel West never made the personal comments on Obama, but it was an interview by Chris Hedges of entitled “The Obama Deception: Why Cornel West Went Ballistic” and questions were asked to which West answered.  It does seem petty on West’s part, but honestly, we all have an outsiders view on the relationship between West and Obama.  Clearly West felt that he had enough of a personal relationship to feel betrayed by Obama.  I’m more interested in why he felt betrayed beyond just getting his feelings hurt.  For such an answer, I turn to the latter part of the interview where West discusses policy.

It’s abundant West’s political self-identification as a Democratic Socialist.  By his staunch advocating for the poor and his new rhetoric against the “plutocrats and oligarchs” we see that West is in favor of much more socialist programs.  I think West’s betrayal came when he felt that Obama was giving more audience to the status quo and mainline advisors and economic policymakers–and not him.  Mind you, if I had shown up on stage with Obama while he was campaigning 65 times, I would have at least expected some inauguration tickets or a return phone call as well.

Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry’s response to West was childish and way beneath her standing as a public scholar and intellectual.  She even accused West of undermining Obama’s candidacy in 2008 because of West’s outward criticism of him.  But she’s long since had a problem with West and Tavis Smiley from back in 2008, and she’s been a water-carrier for Obama.  Generally, I don’t hear her addressing Obama’s criticisms, but I hear her offering accomplishments on Obama’s behalf in order to combat criticisms.  That’s fine, but to act as if Obama’s sh*t don’t stink is delusional at best and conciliatory to a fault at worse.

And understanding where Harris-Perry (formerly Harris-Lacewell) is coming from goes back to 2008 when she wrote the article “Who Died and Made Tavis King?” where she criticized Tavis Smiley (who we later found out endorsed Hillary Clinton prior to the Democratic National Convention) for being mad that Barack Obama didn’t attend the State of the Black Union that year.  I think her later criticisms of Smiley and later West are disingenous because prior to 2008, most of Black Academia were tripping over each other to get a seat on that stage.  By the same token, as an electorate we must hold our elected officials accountable.  When Harris-Perry in more recent memory lambasted Smiley and West for a comment about the “Machiavellian politics” of Obama, it was clear there was no love lost between the Harris-Perry and the two.

Harris-Perry’s support of Obama reminds me of the strange relationship seen in [black] churches with an authoritarian pastor.  The hope is for a benevolent dictatory, but dictator nonetheless.  One who we support in public and mildly criticize behind closed doors.  I am reminded of a quote from Ricky Jones’ What’s Wrong With Obamamania?  Black America, Black Leadership and the Death of Political Imagination published prior to Obama’s victory.  Jones says of the Black Church that

The black community, maybe more than any other, is affectively linked to churches and their pastors to the degree that criticism of either (no matter how rational) is often viewed as nothing short of an attack on God…Unfortunately, black ministers (be they emancipators or collaborators in oppression) are often protected from secular intellectual confrontation by the almost certain ire of their flocks, which is heaped upon any critic who questions their leaders’ decisions and/or motivations.”

If we supposed Obama as a pastor, and the black community, steeped in an ecclesiastical leadership mindset, as the congregation of a church, then we’d see some stark parallels.  For many of us, anything that was seen as a detriment or a derailment to Obama as a candidate or as president was to be handled in house and as to not air dirty laundry.

As for Harris-Perry I can’t help but mention the tripe she spewed on Twitter comparing West’s criticisms to Donald Trump focusing entirely on the personal sensibilities of West and then said both of them had bad hair.  I thought it was telling when after her piece on was published that her fellow colleague Dr. Eddie Glaude tweeted that he couldn’t take her seriously anymore.  Certainly that was hyperbole on his part and a kneejerk reaction to her article and her tweets I’m sure, but it did speak a deeper level of critical thought that we lack in this country at times.

My major problem that I saw with the fallout was Black Twitter (yes, it does exist) and the Black Blogosphere’s innate inability to choose the provocative over the substantive thus choosing the path of least resistance.  It was easier to talk about West being full of himself by seemingly lauding over the hotel worker who got inauguration tickets and he didn’t rather than discuss the effect of Lawrence Summers and Timothy Geitner controlling economic policy that disadvantages and ignores the poor, pays mere lip service to the middle class and protects the rights of big business and the rich in this country.  Certainly West’s comment of Obama being afraid of a “free black man” added another level of complexity to the issue.

Was West playing the race card?  Yes he was, but knowing West, it wasn’t without merit for the sake of being sensational and covering up hurt feelings.  Yes, Obama is black by all accounts, but he did have a white mother and white grandparents who were much more fundamental in his upbringing.  West said that Obama “feels most comfortable with upper middle-class white and Jewish men who consider themselves very smart, very savvy and very effective in getting what they want.”  Certainly that’s a damning statement, but does it negate it’s veracity?  There’s very little color in the persons that Obama has surrounded himself by.  I don’t think that this is a nod toward wanting Obama to be the President of Black America as it is criticizing Obama for continuing business as usual–something that he more or less campaigned against.

West brings up the touchy issue of ontological blackness.  Is it a nice and politically correct subject to talk about?  No.  Not by a long stretch.  But by us not talking about it doesn’t make the issue vanish into thin air.  It’s my opinion West brought it up in this instance because of what he observed: who Obama has surrounded himself with and how he was raised.  These are fair and equal criteria that would be apropos for me, my parents, and West himself: we are products of the matrices from which we have experienced in our lives.  That is to say, Obama’s Euro-American and international upbringing is just as important to his ontology as I am the product of a mother who was a part of the Great Migration and a father who was born and raised in rural Acadiana here in Louisiana.  I’m not convinced that West is expecting Obama to be apologetic from whence he came so much so as he wants Obama to be cognizant of it, to let Obama knows that he knows and also to bring a wider knowledge to the masses about this.

Michael Eric Dyson termed it as one being intentionally black, incidentally black and accidentally black.  West, is clearly and unapologetically, intentionally black.  Obama obviously made the decision to be intentionally black as well–he married Michelle.  But Obama has the privilege of being incidentally black when it suits him.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  But I think this proves bad for the likes of West when it disadvantages the poor citizenry at the expense of protecting the rights of the few and rich.

Above all, West and Harris-Perry just have different political outlooks.  I’m a bit shocked that as learned as both of them are that neither of them took the time to acknowledge their different politcal vantage points.  West is a self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist.  So am I, for the most part.  I believe in the process of the many electing a few for the sake of governance, but I also believe that the goverment should provide some basic services for all of it’s citizens–clear emphasis on all.  I think it would be safe to label Harris-Perry, based on what I know of her from her former blog “The Kitchen Table” and her articles and essays over the years, her commentary on MSNBC and her tweets that she’s a Democratic Populist.   To me this means she’s much more interested in ideas and policy that effect the majority of the people positively.  This doesn’t mean that I believe she’s in favor of the status quo, but such a political situation isn’t as iconoclastic as what West was presenting.

Cornel West, goes the path of the iconoclasts before him: political and social alienation.  This was evidenced in the May 17th interview on the Ed Schultz show on MSNBC where Ed was more or less scratching his head at West’s comments.  And naturally so, you can’t explain ontological blackness in 60 seconds or less to a national audience.  When Harris-Perry came on, Ed was found nodding his head much more and smiling in agreeance with what she had to say.  Below is the clip in case you missed it:

Despite my Twitter rants and my satirically alleging that “Harris-Perry had a #lovejones for Barack Obama,” I respect and validate Harris-Perry’s opinion on this issue.  It’s just that I think she chose to highlight the provocative over the substantive issues, and for that, as a community and as citizens of this country, we’ve got to do better.

Keep it uppity and keep it truthfully radical, JLL

P.S. Happy 86th Birthday to El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, and better known as Malcolm X.  May your #revolutionary spirit lives on my brother.


21 thoughts on “The Rage of Black Academia: Melissa Harris-Perry and Cornel West, A Collegiate Conundrum

  1. Brethren. I love your writing and agree with a great deal of your posts. I also can see a lot of your points like West being on stage with Obama 65 times and feeling snubbed. But as they say, he needs to charge that to the game. Cornel is doing more hating and being a crab in the bucket than he is “critiquing” policies or actions of the President.

    Obama is married to a Black women from the Southside of Chicago and has 2 black daughters. Why are we still trying to do some kind of test to see how concentrated his Blackness is? He is the president of an entire country with various races in it. He can’t focus on JUST Black people. As far as I understand also he has appointed more people of color (black especially) in higher positions in the government than ever before. When he tried to do universal healthcare, something that would help everybody, he got blocked at every turn. Did he bailout the banks? Yes. So did Bush. It was inevitable for that to happen. The rich run a lot of this country, and the poor have yet to stand up! If all middle and lower class people revolted, and Obama did nothing, THEN I would understand critiques on his character. If Cornel West and some others took to the streets and chained themselves to houses that were gonna be foreclosed and said “Look Obama! They’re taking everything away from us! This affects __% of Black people! Help!” and Obama turned a blind eye, THEN I would agree. But the things that go on behind closed doors that Obama’s beholden to is something we’ll never understand. I won’t know what it means to decided to have 2 snipers take out Somali pirates or send a team to get an internationally known terrorist. He tried to pass a Healthcare policy from day one and was blocked and criticized all the way through. Have we suddenly forgotten how much the Republicans have hated on him!?

    Supposedly Obama is sending more aid to Egypt and the Middle East. I’m not happy about that. WE need the aid. But that’s my critique of a President, not just a Black man. West, in any sense of politics, has been more bark than bite. I aint seen him do any kind of protest or political initiative. If I heard more critiques on policy then I would agree. But nowhere has anyone removed the discussion of Obama’s race to JUST talk about him as a president. It’s been clear through the media that his blackness is an issue. There comes a point where we can’t keep connected Obama’s Blackness to his decisions. Furthermore, in not so subtle ways West is calling Obama an Uncle Tom. He needs to cut it out.

    1. @merc80

      Your second paragraph deals with the whole activist vs. academic debate. I don’t know if you saw Cornel and Al Sharpton go at it on Ed Schultz’s show, but that was CLASSIC in the sense that it brought up exactly what you were talking about. I’m of the opinion that West needs to stay in his lane in the academy: he’s good at it. By the same token, I don’t expect Al Sharpton to be publishing books and speaking to the academy. Activists are the one’s chaining to doors of foreclosed homes on the street level, the academics are the one’s focused on influencing the consciousness of a slightly more materially privileged–both take nuances to accomplish.

      From what I know about West, this is an argument against the general power structure of America he’s been talking about since he stepped onto the scene back in the 1980s. We just now have the benefit of 24/7 news cycle and he’s getting more coverage than ever before. Not to mention a bit part in a multimillion dollar movie franchise. Again, I point to West as a Democratic Socialist. A good Democratic Socialist wouldn’t be satisfied with healthcare unless it came with a public option. Enter Cornel West. I think he’s just being true to his personal set of morals and ethics with regards to politics.

      Yeah it’s true that Obama can’t be everything to everybody, but that shouldn’t stop the people who elected him from asking him to be. The LGBT agenda hasn’t been quiet yet on the issue of gay marriages nor were they before the DADT mess got repealed. Washingtonians are still clamoring for DC statehood regardless of who’s president.

      West certainly should charge it to the game, and actually I think he did. In the interview he actually said, and I quote “I have to take some responsibility. I could have been reading into it more than was there.” <— I think that's enough of an acknowledgement that he knew he was letting his ego get the best of him, but that's how he really felt.

      I think to focus on the reasons for West's criticisms and to not focus on the criticisms themselves does us a disservice; we're focusing on the minor stuff and neglecting the major stuff.

      1. Yes I saw that debate between Sharpton and West and that’s what initially got me annoyed with West. Calling Obama a “black mascot”!? Come on dude. How much closer do you need to get to calling him an Uncle Tom?

        I surely agree that Obama should be more focused on the proletariat and constituents that got him elected. But I also don’t know what it means to have to make the call and have snipers take out Somali pirates or an internationally known terrorist. Some of the judgments are definitely warranted. But when we start conflating it with race, saying that he has issues with “free black men”, or that because he was mainly raised by the white side of the family he might not be able to to “understand” black people as much…come on dude. lol We’re now saying that his decisions on policy have to do with his cultural and racial background. Its the same thing that has happened from day one that the republicans, Tea Party, and others who will never let us forget that he’s Black, which makes him different. I’m all for academics, but the theorizing and intellectual debate doesn’t get action done. He’s the least active when compared to Obama, that’s why his criticism in terms of what should be done is hypocritical to me.

      2. @Merc80

        When I think “black mascot” I think puppet, as in being controlled by the others or even “token.” For me, “Uncle Tom” implies a willingness, from someone who’s only “accidentally” black. I don’t see Obama as accidentally black, but I think he has some token qualities at times, but I think it’s more the nature of the job–West just called it as he saw it.

        Let’s be honest, do you think Obama understands what it means to be a black male in America in much the same way me and you do?

        If you say yes, then I think we’ll just have to agree to disagree on this one. Still, if the Tea Party and other Republicans don’t want to make him forget he’s black, then neither should we.

        I definitely think we’re going to have to part ways on the activism vs. the academy debate. I definitely think that intellectual debate does something; exactly what I said earlier: it influences consciousness. By stimulating and meaningful debate we’ll think new thoughts that can lead to different actions. I personally think the two can’t operate without one another. I think prior to the 1960s, we saw the two operate in tandem with one another. In the black community we uplifted those who had went to school and published books and had ascended to the heights of the ivory tower. Even from the likes of Martin Luther King and Howard Thurman, we received a wealth of book knowledge that allowed us to take those new thoughts and use them as actions.

        What we see now is a slow death of black intelligentsia. I think we need it even more because of our outmoded ways of activism in the black community. We don’t have black intellectuals that we look up to whether they have something meaningful to say or not, we just dismiss them as disconnected head-cases who don’t know what’s going on at “the real” level.

        Whatever “real” means to you i suppose. **shrugz**

        I’d hate to see us negate one for the sake of the other. It’s not always this or that, but this and that.

  2. I appreciate the fact that you acknowledge West’s right to feel slighted on a human level by the administration given their treatment of him post-election. Unfortunately for Dr. West such arguments don’t play well in public discourse, especially when they are connected to stern critiques of a person certain progressives and blacks have enormous affection for as a collective symbol.

    Also I like the fact that we share a similar critique of black blogs being “the Black Blogosphere’s innate inability to choose the provocative over the substantive”.

    1. @CriticalCleric

      Thanks for your comment.

      We’re all entitled to our emotions and feelings, West was transparent enough to share his. But yes, in the eyes of public discourse it’s a no-no. But only a no-no because the rest of us don’t give interviews on MSNBC and are esteemed professors from Princeton. Most of us feel slighted over much more mundane incidents.

  3. As disgusted as I am with the whole irredeemable charade that Obama is in charge of, I reluctantly feel for him on a human level because of the endless, ENDLESS projection he has to put up with. Everyone and their grandmother, from every cultural corner and sub-corner of America, projects their personal hopes and fears onto him. It’s been that way from the moment he opened his yap at the Democratic convention in 2004. Lord. For his sanity’s sake, I hope he long ago learned to tune this stuff out. (I imagine being one of the few people on earth with the power to “turn on the football” would be wearing enough on anyone’s sanity already.)

    I’ll never be privvy to the nuances of the schism represented by Harris and West—despite commentaries and breakdowns like the ones you write. But from an outsider’s point of view, it’s just one MORE conflicting set of projections thrust upon this poor sap. That makes…what? 5,074? It’s crazy. Don’t get me wrong. It’s no big mystery why this stuff is coming at him from the faction West represents. How could it not, after all, when it took 43 white presidents before a black man got the job? But the fact that conversations like this can take place parallel to conversations about healthcare reform being cover for “reparations” is just another demonstration that this country is lapsing into an incurable schizophrenic seizure attack.

    Oh, well. At least this conversation is actually ABOUT something. That’s more than can be said for many of the ones that go on elsewhere.

    It definitely seems to be true that pastors often have a fence of infallability built around them by their congregations, and that the fence is structurally linked to the infallibility of God himself. I’d say the black community is unique in that area ONLY in the sense that the consequences of that dynamic assume greater internal significance than elsewhere, where the authority isn’t as concentrated on select few figures/institutions. But removing that, it really isn’t any different from the dynamic seen when charlatans like Jim Bakker are exposed for what they are, and the followers will chain themselves to that infallabilty fence they’ve built around their leader.
    It’s a dangerous and self-destructive dynamic, no matter how you slice it. I’d go so far as to say it’s outright authoritarian, though you might think that’s too strong.

  4. Sorry, I just read the link and had to add this:

    “This was maybe America’s last chance to fight back against the greed of the Wall Street oligarchs …to generate some serious discussion about public interest and common good that sustains any democratic experiment…I thought Barack Obama could have provided some way out. But he lacks backbone.”

    “Can you imagine if Barack Obama had taken office and deliberately educated the American people about the nature of the financial catastrophe and …what kind of mechanisms of accountability needed to be in place?……we become so maladjusted to the prevailing injustice that the Democratic Party, more and more, is not just milquetoast and spineless, as it was before, but thoroughly complicitous with some of the worst things in the American empire.”

    West is absolutely right and the tragedy is that we have moved past the point where it’s possible to have the conversation he wants to have. Obama is either too compromised or too cowardly to attempt it (it doesn’t matter which), and that hurts because there really was a moment, however brief, when he had just enough capital to maybe, just MAYBE get the ball rolling in that direction. But that window was open for maybe five minutes, and he didn’t jump through it. Too bad. Because if it ever does open again, I fear it will only be after we have all suffered a collective blow the likes of which we have never experienced or anticipated, one that will make the 2008 crash and its still-ongoing aftermath look like a cakewalk. West may well have been right to characterize that brief moment as a “last chance.”

    1. This is exactly how the Armageddon-Now crowd gets traction (Rapture 5-21-11 at 6:00 pm, any standard time, any calendar, everywhere).

      Things are changing, change is bad if ‘we’re’ not in charge, we’re not really, really afraid, but we know that ______________ can’t handle it because they are not like us and they do not know what they are doing. We don’t either, but we would never acknowledge that we don’t know. Well, you know how it is, we are smarter and just plain better–God told us (and not them?)

      1. It’s true that political apocalyptic language can sound similar to religious apocalyptic language if someone gets carried away. I don’t see them as coming from the same place, though, because tangible, verifiable observations of things that are going on, and rational analysis of the effects of those events, is not the same as the mysterious fever-dream process that leads people to conclude that the rapture is coming on some random date. (Like the guy who picked 1843, and then 1845 when he was wrong…)

  5. Here is my issue. While it’s great to have public political discourse on President Obama and it’s a positive sign that not all Black folks think alike, the real issue, to me, is that many of the issues that Dr. Cornel West points out have been in existence since the days of Lincoln yet for some reason, Dr. West is putting the ownness of the responsibility of fixing ALL of our issue on the shoulders of President Obama. Bush (1 and 2) nor Clinton, nor many other presidents have addressed these issues fully yet for some reason, because President Obama is Black, it’s supposed to be different. He is still the President of the United States and still, let’s not forget, a politician.

    The real issues lie in why some of what is going on in our community is going on. We, the little people in the community, need to take some responsibility at a grassroots level. Why is our marriage rate so low compared to our white counterparts? Why can’t some of our kids read or write well (I work in higher education, I see the results everyday), Why are there so many babies born to us out of wedlock with no financial support from many of the young parents giving birth? Why are we okay with young girls looking like strippers and barbie dolls? Why are we okay with the high numbers of single black women? Why are we okay with the low percentages of HBCUs graduating our students? Why are we okay with black male athletes running around acting like premadonna thugs?….All of the answers to these questions and more are not issues that President Obama needs to be addressing from his position as President, rather issues that we as the folks living in the “everyday” Black community should be addressing, yet we seem content with these issues festering.

    If these issues are addressed, then perhaps the larger issues of education, joblessness, building families, building the black middle class would be fixed. There is no way that West and other Black intellectuals should be calling out President Obama unless they call out all of the deadbeat fathers and other sorry men who refuse to work (not the unemployed or laid off), how about we call out all of the Black men who won’t read or can’t read and oh, I don’t know, tutor them and teach them to “fish” for themselves.

    I’m really tired of this rhetoric denouncing President Obama because his “black experience” isn’t like Mr. West’s or other “free black men”. Hell, my black experience is not like others, I don’t have a hood or struggle experience like many of my black counterparts, yet I do have an experience, so how dare us that we try to call President Obama on the carpet for anything like not being “Black” enough.

    How about we teach our young men to look at President Obama and other Black male leaders like Cornel West and Michael Eric Dyson and others as role models who are allowed to have different opinions who who are upstanding citizens, educated, and trying to help their community? How about we teach our black males to honor, protect, and respect Black women? How about we teach our children how to keep our money in our community? How about we start discussion groups on how to build our own schools and build up the community (i.e., Harlem Children’s Zone)? How about we teach our children how to be like the numerous black leaders of the past who created an agenda for our community rather than try to figure out how they will be the next rich rapper or athlete? How about we focus on this Black tea party candidate they are waving in front of us? How about we teach our people how to focus on the issues (education, economy, etc.) rather than one person, because when President Obama is out of office, guess what, these same issues will still exist and then what?

    I’m not saying we should never disagree, however, this bad talking of President Obama in public only serves to fuel the fire of those white folks and tea party folks who are uneducated on the intricate issues that exist in the black community and those black folks who are uneducated about themselves; this only creates division amongst us and those who didn’t have their own opinion to begin with will jump on the bandwagon rather than form their own opinion. It’s very dangerous to bicker in public rather than come up with some type of strategy (as we used to do in the Civil Rights movement, this is what churches and community leaders did – talk first then voice our opinion). We need an agenda and the only group I see pushing us into the direction of developing policy and a Black agenda is the Urban League. We need to focus on a Black Agenda and prep for 2012 before all that we did fight for is taken from right up under our feet.

    1. @Kellea

      I don’t know to what extent you’ve followed Cornel West over the years, but his stance on the systematic disenfranchisement of the poor in this country has been consistent from the Reagan era through both Bush administrations and the Clinton one; he’s merely tweaking his argument to address the POV that Obama is coming from.

      Many of these blacks who are in the academy do a LOT of activism when the camera’s not in their faces, and we act as if them teaching in the classroom is minute. I couldn’t disagree more! Influencing the minds of students black, white, Latino and Asian is certainly doing a mighty work. We can’t expect Cornel West to bow to our every whim and want as Joe and Josephine Q. Public — that’s our jobs. Honestly, if you’re passionate about the list of things in your comment, I’d encourage you to empower yourself and others around you to get on board and create change through those avenues.

      Complaining about West complaining about Obama does nothing.

      The purpose of this post was to get folks to see things from a different POV–one that wasn’t caught up in the sensationalism of West’s feelings getting hurt, but rather what can we do to address the concerns that he raised when it came to the disenfranchisement of the poor.

      Notwithstanding Obama’s “blackness,” we can ignore it all we want, but it’s a major undercurrent that we all act as if it’s not there. Disagree with it being aired in public or even being an issue, seeing as how we’re not a post-racial society, it’s something worth discussing.

  6. West,Smiley,AND Dyson can all take a damn flying leap!! And despite how you feel Uppity even if race is a paradigm is this equation it does not in any excuse the fact that if Hillary or John Kerry or Al Gore were president those shifty Negroes would not be nearly as vocal as they are with Obama. Let’s call it like it is Obama is a ‘safe’ target therefore pissbags like West and Smiley feel they can go after him in a way they DON’T have the balls to attack a white male Democrat. And look who in the F**K is talking! Cornel West,Tavis Smiley and Micheal Dyson all went to Ivy League schools and West and Dyson still work there. So who the bleep are they to call out Obama for who he supposedly more ‘comfortable’ with when they are around white people all the damn time! Not only is this crabs in a barrel but it’s pot calling the kettle black or at least half black.

  7. Greetings all 1st amen Lavern ! I’m am a Christian before I’m am a black man,independent and a conservative. I read Cornels race matters years ago don’t remember any of it. Thanks for someone pointing out that all blacks don’t think alike .I battle daily with my peers over Obama. The same things they hated Bush for is the same damn thing Obama is still doing and He gets a pass? Look its not the presidents job to come down to Negro land redneck land or Hispanic land and tell people to get their act together. The right way or the wrong way is all we have. I see it every day I know of young guys with 3 babies mothers they have no jobs but the mothers all work. These chumps don’t even have a car. What flagnog ! It you are not retarded you dont need the governments help all the time . If you cant buy a car seat don’t have a baby simple.

  8. I’m not sure but this dialog tells me that at least some black intellectuals have their act together, don’t think the president must reflect each and every ond of their objectives, understand that racism still exists in this country but aren’t looking for 1964 everywhere. Cornel West is locked into the 60’s mentality and Tavis is looking for the place assigned to him in the black pantheon. Get over it, gentlemen. Obama is the president of all of us. All of us. All of us.

  9. I’m not sure but this dialog tells me that at least some black intellectuals have their act together, don’t think the president must reflect each and every one of their objectives, understand that racism still exists in this country but aren’t looking for 1964 everywhere. Cornel West is locked into the 60’s mentality and Tavis is looking for the place assigned to him in the black pantheon. Get over it, gentlemen. Obama is the president of all of us. All of us. All of us.

  10. Great article: fair, well-balanced, and informative point of view. I’m white. Hope it’s okay that I’m here. I just discovered this wonderful site.

  11. I believe this is among the so much vital information for me. And i’m happy studying your article. However should observation on some normal issues, The website taste is wonderful, the articles is in point of fact excellent : D. Good task, cheers

  12. Dr. West sounds petty. I don’t think the President can change the country from his office; change comes when people decide that enough is enough. The President can do only so much with executive orders, he has to have the hearts and minds of the legislature. Dr. West has ably taken up the mantel of the poor. However, poverty is not innate. Poverty is inculcated through recurring myths and behavior. The riff between Drs. West and Harris-Perry is regrettable, but actually good when it is done openly and authentically. I trust that these scholars can discuss their differences without the name calling and character bashing.

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