Cornel West used to be considered one of Black America’s greatest academics and intellectuals, but lately he’s been coming off as a proper hater. Mr. West recently penned an editorial coming for renowned author Ta-Nehisi Coates, and the backlash was immediate. In an editorial for The Guardian, West took Coates to task for his alleged pessimism and “narrow” view of the Black experience. The editorial was pinged to Coates most recent book, We Were Eight Years in Power.
West clearly didn’t like it.
Some choice passages from West’s takedown include:
In short, Coates fetishizes white supremacy. He makes it almighty, magical and unremovable. What concerns me is his narrative of “defiance”. For Coates, defiance is narrowly aesthetic – a personal commitment to writing with no connection to collective action. It generates crocodile tears of neoliberals who have no intention of sharing power or giving up privilege.
And another one…
There is no doubt that the marketing of Coates – like the marketing of anyone – warrants suspicion. Does the profiteering of fatalism about white supremacy and pessimism of black freedom fit well in an age of Trump – an age of neo-fascism, US style?
Unfortunately, Coates’ allegiance to Obama has produced an impoverished understanding of black history. He reveals this when he writes: “Ossie Davis famously eulogized Malcolm X as ‘our living, Black manhood’ and ‘our own Black shining prince.’ Only one man today could bear those twin honorifics: Barack Obama.”
This gross misunderstanding of who Malcolm X was – the greatest prophetic voice against the American Empire – and who Barack Obama is – the first black head of the American Empire – speaks volumes about Coates’ neoliberal view of the world.
That last quote is illuminating considering many of West’s former fans fell out with him when he clearly felt jaded when Barack Obama, who he campaigned for, didn’t coddle him (read: kiss his ass), or get him enough tickets to the inauguration.
Specifically, Black Twitter was not having it. A plethora of tweets outline what many consider the motivation for West’s piece, beyond the words on the page. Namely jealousy, envy and being triggered by another Black man getting props.
See for yourself below and on the following pages. Tell us what you think in the comments.