Cornel West has sold out.
The man who nearly 20 years ago delivered the groundbreaking treatise on race relations in America, “Race Matters,” traded in his status as lecturer for entertainer. West edutained a sold-out audience at Queens University on during his lecture on diversity and inclusion.
I think this was my third time attending a West speech. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard him speak because his talks sound the same. They are an entertaining blend of illumination, provocation and what I can only call Westicisms.
West addressed religious fanaticism (by Christians), corporate greed, love for one another, sentencing disparities and a laundry list of other problems contributing to what he called the decline of American civilization. His winding narrative through racism in America touched on Socrates, Stevie Wonder, Emmitt Till’s mother, Trayvon Martin and more. The delivery was lecture in the key of rap. The problem was his delivery, or should I say flow, reduced what should’ve been a serious intellectual dialogue into sound bites.
Below are a few of the Westicisms from Monday (edited for clarity):
• When you really love folks, you can’t stand to see them treated unjustly.
• When white people see Negroes you ought to give them a standing ovation.
• I defend brother Rush Limbaugh’s right to be wrong.
•If banks are too big too fail then maybe they’re too big.
• When corporations call for help what do they get? Help. It’s corporate welfare. When poor people call for help they’re told to pull themselves up by their bootstraps.
He challenged African Americans to see beyond their pigmentation when it comes to questioning some of President Obama’s decisions such as bombing innocent people in Pakistan.
Brother West – a noted professor, author and radio host – made some great points on Monday. He always does. It’s just unfortunate his message got lost in the West-mania.