Cornel West

Cornel West


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



 West and Gates have wealth, prestige, and means.

What both do now can be done at one of the traditional black colleges and universities.

Yet they cling to Harvard and Princeton.



Books by Cornel West

Democracy Matters: The Fight Against Imperialism  /  Race Matters  / Cornel West Reader  /  The Future of the Race  

The American Evasion of Philosophy  /  African American Religious Thought  /  The War Against Parents 

The African American Century White on White / Black on Black  / Prophesy Deliverance  / The Soul Knows No Bars

*   *   *   *   *

The Case of Cornel West: Struggling to Maintain Integrity

An editorial by Rudolph Lewis


I have come to that stage of life, I do not expect others to be better than themselves, except for my own people. Of course, it is ever a pleasure and a blessing when it does happen. For a great portion of my life, I used to be very disturbed that others did not meet my sense of rightness. I have come of age now and to hold to such naiveté would be boneheaded.

There is an old saying (I do not know its source; surely it must have a folk origin). It says, Don’t get mad; get even. As in all words, folk expressions need careful interpretation and that’s where the measure comes. As a matter of a personal ethic, a conscientious slave must have at one time considered this dilemma. I suspect Nathaniel Turner struggled with such an ethic, as we see in his running away from a cruel master who happened to be his half brother.

But how does the weak when his integrity is threatened get even effectively? Of course, Turner ultimately did not think and  act thus in these categories after he had gone through his wilderness experience. A careful reading of his Confessions 1831 will reveal that. Turner did do, however, as the Christian would recommend, “Wait on the Lord, for he is a Deliverer.” The Lord, we are reminded, however, does not always come the way we expect. That is the hook. All of history is left open.

Such can be seen in the celebrated case of Cornel West at Harvard. He is at odds with the powers that be. The new president of Harvard, a fellow named Summers, I believe, recently, called Cornel into his office. But it was not to proffer him another award. 

Nevertheless, Cornel West is considered a rhetorical genius. He has numerous books to his credit. He is a national if not an international scholar personality. He is a member of Skip Gate’s so-called intellectual dream team, which has brought Harvard tens of millions of dollars and a considerable amount of prestige as far as its connection with well-considered Negroes. Both Gates and West have received numerous awards. Gates from the President of the US (Clinton), as the No. 1 Signifying Monkey!

The president of Harvard called Cornel West into his office and insulted him. It was nice and nasty, not the Bull Connor approach, yet one with a similar stench. Summers raised questions about Cornel’s level of scholarship. Is he really a theologian, a philosopher, or a politician? The last scholarly work from Cornel was in 1986. 

Then there was the matter of the inflation of grades for African-American Studies 101. Rather than Cornel’s lack of writing and researching, many believe, probably rightly, it is Cornel’s lack of discretion and discernment in his political activity and his association with unsavory nationally-known Negroes, such as Al Sharpton of New York, today’s Malcolm and Martin rolled into one, according to some.

Such activities led to Cornel’s dressing down by Summers, a self-important official who felt obliged to come to the defense of the status quo, that is, high-placed individuals of the well-known and recognized Harvard University. A rumor was put in the wind that West was considering handing in his resignation. There’s a national outcry among a few liberal high-placed individuals in defense of Cornel West. Princeton has a standing offer for West to come there.

Neither Princeton nor Harvard is going to save Black America from its sorry situation. They are agents of the powers that got us in this mess. At most what Harvard and Princeton will do for Black People is to give a few an upper middle-class life style. These well-placed scholars are ready, capable, and willing to speak for Black America in the most scholarly and intellectual tones, without threatening their master’s house and making him feel too uncomfortable. From the perspective of Harvard and Princeton, that is, from the perspective of “real” power, these African-American scholars are lap dogs of objectivity.

What’s happening to Terance Garner and Rap Brown and others who challenge those who are against the security and advancement of black life and culture make me uneasy. Locking up blacks in the USA is reminiscent of Hitlerite and Stalinist tactics. Point out those who are struggling against social injustice, label them a general threat to society and then go after them—the least vulnerable the better. That’s today’s stratagem of social progress as well.

It is post-modern Jim Crow, an existence not sustained by the law codes and righteousness. It is merely a lived, expected and a silently sustained reality–the state against black life and culture, a heavily policed African-American community contained by threats to comfort, insecurity; imprisonment and random killings by the police, and state executions. All who object are helpless, it seems, other than to note its existence.

There’s an old African saying. “When the elephants fight the grass suffers.” I really have little concern about what Harvard and Princeton do with respect to Gates or West. These two fellows are influential and wealthy, millionaires. I cannot enter that fray in good conscious. My position is this. The previous significance of a Negro at Harvard does not have the same relevance as it used to for the Negro struggle, which was designed to convince others of our intellectual equality and our humanity. That victory has been won, if not recognized.

West and Gates have wealth, prestige, and means. What both do now can be done at one of the traditional black colleges and universities, of course, with a cut in pay and perks. Yet they cling to Harvard and Princeton. As the young folks say, “What’s up with that?”

Today, I will worship the Lord much, thanking him for all my blessings, that which was meant for me. I pray for discretion and discernment and righteousness. And most of all, I pray for what is just in God’s measure. Amen.

 *   *   *   *   *

Brother West

Living and Loving Out Loud, A Memoir

By Cornel West

Brother West is like its author: brilliant, unapologetic, full of passion yet cool. This poignant memoir traces West’s transformation from a schoolyard Robin Hood into a progressive cultural icon. From his youthful investigation of the “death shudder” to why he embraced his calling of teaching over preaching, from his three marriages and his two precious children to his near-fatal bout with prostate cancer, West illuminates what it means to live as “an aspiring bluesman in a world of ideas and a jazzman in the life of the mind.” Woven together with the fibers of his lifelong commitment to the prophetic Christian tradition that began in Sacramento’s Shiloh Baptist Church, Brother West is a tale of a man courageous enough to be fully human, living and loving out loud.

*   *   *   *   *

50 Years of Progress Since Brown /

Quality Education for Black & Brown

The Obama Deception: Why Cornel West Went Ballistic (Chris Hedges)  /  Cornel West v Barack Obama (Melissa Harris-Perry )

Dr. Cornel West and Carl Dix Interview: On Obama  /  Cornel West: Obama is for big business not the jobless

Michael Eric Dyson vs President Obama  / Cornel West and the fight against injustice

Cornel West Calls Out Barack Obama  / Cornel West “Barack Obama Is the Black Mascot of The Wall Street Oligarchs”

*   *   *   *   *

Michael Eric Dyson to President Obama  /  Michael Eric Dyson: To The Young & Disillusioned

Michael Eric Dyson: Obama isn’t Moses, he is Pharaoh  /  Smiley and West: Obama & Sharpton

*   *   *   *   *

Cornel West to Take a Job in New York—Laurie Goodstein—16 November 2011—Cornel West, the peripatetic public intellectual and political activist, plans to finish out a teaching career that has taken him from Yale to Harvard to Princeton by moving back this coming summer to Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York, where he began as an assistant professor in 1977. Dr. West, the author of 19 books, including Race Matters, and a ubiquitous television and radio commentator, said he was taking a significant pay cut to become a professor of philosophy and Christian practices at Union.

The school, where the eminent theologian Reinhold Niebuhr taught, is also known as the birthplace of black theology. James H. Cone, a foremost scholar in that tradition, is still on the faculty.In an interview from Seattle, on his way to visit Occupy protesters there, Dr. West said that his liberal politics were formed in Progressive Baptist churches, and that Union was “the institutional expression of my core identity as a prophetic Christian.”—NYTimes

*   *   *   *   *’s 25 Best Selling Books

For July 1st through August 31st 2011  


#1 – Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark #2 – Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree #3 – Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane #4 – Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper #5 – Stackin’ Paper 2 Genesis’ Payback by Joy King #6 – Thug Lovin’ (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark #7 – When I Get Where I’m Going by Cheryl Robinson #8 – Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby #9 – The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 – Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 – Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 – Don’t Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 – For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 – For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 – Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 – The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 – Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 – Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 – Stackin’ Paper by Joy King

#20 – Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 – The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 – Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 – Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 – I Dreamt I Was in Heaven – The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 – Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable #2 – Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans #3 – Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane #4 – Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper #5 – Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant #6 – Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey #7 – The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight #8 – The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing #9 – The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 – John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 – Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 – Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 – Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 – Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 – Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 – Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

*   *   *   *   *

Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.

*   *   *   *   *


Sex at the Margins

Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry

By Laura María Agustín

This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label ‘trafficked’ does not accurately describe migrants’ lives and that the ‘rescue industry’ serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice. “Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality.”—Lisa Adkins, University of London

*   *   *   *   *

The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

*   *   *   *   *

Ancient African Nations

*   *   *   *   *

If you like this page consider making a donation

online through PayPal

*   *   *   *   *

Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        


*   *   *   *   *

The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery

*   *   *   *   *

The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 — The Founding of Haiti 

*   *   *   *   *


*   *   *   *   *





posted 26 January 2002 / update 23 June 2008  




Home Baltimore Page  Dietrich Bonhoeffer  Table 

Related files: Cornel West Moves to Princeton  West Cites Reason For Quitting  Cornel West: An Editorial   Pass the Mic   Kam Williams Interviews Cornel West  Responses to Pass the Mic 

The Tavis Smiley Presidential Forum   The State of the Black Union 2009  Smiley vs. Sharpton 

Post Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.