My response to Brother Ta-Nehisi’s new book should not be misunderstood. I simply tried to honestly evaluate the book at the level of Truth, Goodness and Beauty. Since I believe there will never be another Baldwin — just as there will never be another Coltrane, Morrison, Du Bois, Simone [as in Nina], Robeson or Rakim — the coronation of Coates as Baldwin is wrong. His immense talents and gifts lie elsewhere and lead to different priorities. He indeed tells crucial truths about the vicious legacy of white supremacy as plunder on a visceral level, yet he fails to focus on our collective fightback, social movements or political hope. Even his fine essays downplay people’s insurgency and resistance. The full truth of white supremacy must include our historic struggles against it. His critical comments in his essays about the respectability politics or paternalistic speeches of the black president in power (absent in his book) do not constitute a critique of the presidency — pro-Wall Street policy as capitalist wealth inequality, drone policy as U.S. war crimes, massive surveillance as violation of rights, or defense of ugly Israeli occupation as immoral domination. For example, none of the black or white neo-liberals who coronate Coates say that 500 Palestinian babies killed by U.S. supported Israeli forces in 50 days or U.S. drones killing over 200 babies are crimes against humanity. Yet they cry crocodile tears when black folk are murdered by U.S. police. Unlike Baldwin, Coates gives them this hypocritical way out — with no cost to pay, risk to take, or threat to their privilege because of his political silence on these issues. I love Coates’ obsession with Baldwin’s beautiful prose, and Coates does have beautiful moments too. Baldwin’s beauty is profoundly soulful, wise and eager to inspire others. Coates’ beauty is deliberately nerdy, smart and draws attention to itself. Hence, Coates’ obsession with beauty weakens the Baldwin-like truths of resistance to be told or the Baldwin-like goodness tied to social hope. Like a Blues man or Jazz woman, Baldwin offers his whole blood-drenched and tear-soaked soul in words and sounds to an incomplete world, whereas Coates offers his well-crafted words with a sad spectatorial self to a doomed world. In this Age of Ferguson, we indeed need different voices, yet the most needful voices should be Baldwin-like all the way down and all the way LIVE!
Tag Archives: Cornel West
I thought Cornel west reserved this type of ire for the President. Read the post and share your thoughts.
In Defense of James Baldwin – Why Tony Morrison(a literary genius) is Wrong about Ta-Nehisi Coates. Baldwin was a great writer of profound courage who spoke truth to power. Coates is a clever wordsmith with journalistic talent who avoids any critique of the Black president in power. Baldwin’s painful self-examination led to collective action and a focus on social movements. He reveled in the examples of Medgar, Martin, Malcolm, Fannie Lou Hamer and Angela Davis. Coates’s fear-driven self-absorption leads to individual escape and flight to safety – he is cowardly silent on the marvelous new militancy in Ferguson, Baltimore, New York, Oakland, Cleveland and other places. Coates can grow and mature, but without an analysis of capitalist wealth inequality, gender domination, homophobic degradation, Imperial occupation (all concrete forms of plunder) and collective fightback (not just personal struggle) Coates will remain a mere darling of White and Black Neo-liberals, paralyzed by their Obama worship and hence a distraction from the necessary courage and vision we need in our catastrophic times. How I wish the prophetic work of serious intellectuals like Robin DG Kelley, Imani Perry, Gerald Horne, Eddie Glaude commanded the attention the corporate media gives Coates. But in our age of superficial spectacle, even the great Morrison is seduced by the linguistic glitz and political silences of Coates as we all hunger for the literary genius and political engagement of Baldwin. As in jazz, we must teach our youth that immature imitation is suicide and premature elevation is death. Brother Coates continue to lift your gifted voice to your precious son and all of us, just beware of the white noise and become connected to the people’s movements!
Tavis Smiley used to be a contributor on the Tom Joyner Morning Show. Twice a week he would offer his opinion on all things black related. He was an oracle in the community until he took on Barack Obama. Smiley said he wanted to hold candidate Obama accountable and that would have been fair until Smiley crossed into Obama bashing. he left the show but his assualt against the president has been ongoing. Sunday Smiley wrote an editorial below where he laid out his contention that the president is not the MLK embodiment of the dream. That’s fair, but Smiley is not either. Tom Joyner reently said “What do many Republicans, the spokesmen for NRA and Tavis Smiley have in common? Once they start down a road, no matter how dangerous or ridiculously wrong it is, they won’t turn back.” Joyner went on to say “I believe that Tavis is the one fascinated with Dr. King’s legacy, but more importantly Tavis is fascinated with his own legacy, and that’s not good. He wants more than anything to be remembered the way Dr. King was, and to some how make that kind of mark on the world. Dr. King wasn’t concerned about how he would be remembered, he was concerned with doing good and doing right. In the end, that made him great. Tavis has done a lot of good things but his obsession with becoming great is destroying him. The whole issue with the inscription on the King Memorial illustrates the differences between Tavis and Dr. King. Days before he was killed, believing that death was imminent, Dr. King dealt with it publicly in his Drum Major speech. Dr. King knew good things would be said about him in death and he was humbled at the idea of it. Tavis is afraid of what will be said about him and it’s driving him crazy. He points out on the day of President Obama’s swearing in that the President is not the fulfillment of Dr.King’s dream, but maybe a good down payment. I wonder what that makes Tavis, and sadly, does he.” So is this just the latest scuffle between Tom and Tavis? Below you will find the complete text of the Tavis Smiley essay. Read it and share your thoughts.
Barack Hussein Obama will be sworn in as president tomorrow for a second term, on the holiday honoring the person I have long regarded as the greatest American this nation has ever produced. Obama will be in the foreground, but Martin Luther King, Jr. is the backdrop. I’ve heard people exclaim that President Obama is the fulfillment of Dr. King’s dream. Well, not exactly. Obama might be a good down payment, but he is not the fulfillment of King’s dream. We’re still a long way away from that. The interrelated triple threat of poverty, militarism and racism that King talked about still looms large in a yet-deeply-divided America. In the spirit of MLK, it’s time for President Obama to deliver a major policy speech on the eradication of poverty in America. He ought to tell us how the richest nation in the history of the world is going to confront the scourge of poverty. In the spirit of MLK, President Obama should rethink the random use of his favorite weapon – the unmanned aerial vehicle, better known as “drones,” which have killed too many innocent women and children. In the spirit of MLK, President Obama should not continue to feel boxed in by his blackness, but feel liberated in a second term to find ways to push back on the most intractable issue in America — racism. The president wants to channel King so badly that he’s decided to use Dr. King’s Bible at the inauguration ceremony tomorrow. Obama is a politician, and a pretty good one, but King was a prophet. And while I can appreciate the president’s fascination with King’s legacy of unarmed truth and unconditional love, I’m feeling some sort of way about King being used symbolically for public pomp and circumstance, but disregarded substantively when it comes to public policy. Our future as a nation depends on how seriously we take the legacy of Dr. King: Justice for all, service to others, and a love that liberates people. For all the dysfunction that our country is exhibiting at the moment, Dr. King reminds us that the time is always ripe to do right. We should never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.
Cornel West explains why President Obama should not have used Dr. King’s Bible…is he simply hating on the President?
Watch the clip and share your thoughts. Does Dr. West have a point?
Melissa Harris-Perry says Tavis Smiley sold out blacks like the nurse in the Tuskegee experiment…has this feud gone too far?
Tavis Smiley has been accused of alot of things but to be compared to the nurse in the infamous Tuskegee experiement seems a little much. Read the linked story and share your thoughts.
Tavis Smiley has been an ardent critic of the president since he first announced his intention to run for office. Smiley and his traveling companion Dr. Cornel West have been relentless in their criticism of Obama, but Smiley does not take kindly to people talking about him. He has had Mo Kelly served with a cease and desist notice for talking bad about him. Read the link for all the details and share your thoughts.
Cornel West called the President ” a Republican in blackface.” West and Tavis Smiley have been consistent, staunch critics of the president. He is also very critical of Al Sharpton and Melissa Harris-Perry. Read the linked story and share your thoughts.
Herman Cain is now a household name. We know him and most of us are familiar with his 9-9-9 plan, but what does he really want? Does he want to become president or does he simply want to become famous. Is he more of a Sarah Palin type. He says controversial things. He needs to can this plantation talk and why is it if blacks don’t think like he does they are on the plantation? He seems to think his black skin gives him license to insult black people. He is the darling of the right and the left simply see him as dastardly, but it remains to be seen what his real agenda actually is because I for one believe this man has more of a plan than 9-9-9.
Ralph Nader called the president “Uncle Tom”, now he and Cornel West are looking for a liberal to challenge the president
Cornel West is uniting with perennial presidential candidate Ralph Nader to find a liberal to challenge the president in the primary. They are looking a progressive that will push a more liberal agenda. West partnership with Nader is just his latest swipe at the president. It is interesting that West could hook with a man who called the president Uncle Tom during the 2008 presidential campaign. West and Tavis Smiley spent the summer bashing the president on their “Poverty tour” so this is just the fall show. Wonder what’s on the agenda for the winter? Maybe West can hook up with the Tea Party. No, this is not a balanced piece and no it is not objective, and no Cornel West is neither of the two when it comes to the president.
Cornel West and Tavis Smiley have got to be very happy this week. Their fight with the president garnered them a 2 page spread in Newsweek this week. Allison Samuels addresses the fight that is going on within the black community. Smiley might not be smiling as broadly because he did not get quite as much ink as West, but this battle has staying power so smiley might get more in the next national press evaluation of the two. Poverty existed pre-Obama, during Obama and it will exist after Obama, but is poverty what is really motiviating this ire? Obama is not perfect, but who is? Yes this country has a lot of challenges to solve, but is this negative dialogue going to motivate the poor to vote or in 2012 will they say what’s the use? Is the goal to defeat poverty or to defeat Barack Obama. one has to wonder which one would make the Smiley/West team happier? Tell me what you think. http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2011/08/14/cornel-west-and-the-black-war-over-obama.html