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: Dr. 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!
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.
“Sean Hannity noted that the three often disagreed. “I do enjoy it when you both criticize Barack Obama, I thank you for that,” Hannity admitted to Smiley and West, the latter who replied, “we’re even more critical of you!” Tavis Smiley and Cornel West were on his show to discuss their new book, The Rich and the Rest of Us. Read the Link for the entire story and the video clip.
Dr. Cornel West no stranger to controversy has called MSNBC contributor Melissa Harris Perry a liar. She worked with west at Princeton but of late she has been a vocal critic of the volatile West. Cornel West and his cohort Tavis Smiley have been two of president Obama’s most vocal crticis. Read the linked article and tell ne what you think.
What do you get when you combine Bill O’Reilly, Tavis Smiley and Cornel West…you get a firey smackdown
Watch the sparks fly as Fox News Bill O’Reilly discusses Occupy wall Street with Tavis Smiley and Dr. Cornel West.
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.
I saw on Twitter that Smiley and West were on C-SPAN this morning so I decided to watch. They are talking about their Poverty Tour, but it is apparent that their dislike for the president goes beyond politics. West made note of the fact that during the 2008 campaign he campaigned for the president. In fact he did 65 events for him, but he went on to say he would not support the president in the primaries. He said he was looking for a Bernie Sanders type candidate. He did say in the general election if Obama faces someone like Michele Bachmann he would vote for the president. When Smiley was asked if he would support the president he played the media card, but he went on to lament the fact that the president has never invited him to the White House, and also that the president has never appeared on his television show, but he was not complaining. Really? Because it sounded like he was. Smiley and West are members of their own mutual admiration clubs, and in that club there is truly no room for personal reflection or true self-analysis. They are right and the president is wrong, and that is the first rule of membership. My concern when I listen to them is their message is somber. It is true that middle class people are falling into poverty. It is true that the president does need to devote attention to jobs and a job bill, but it is also true that we need to vote, and Smiley made a comment about how people thought they were voting for change in 2008 and look what they got. It is that kind of remark that will make people say why bother, and if people do not vote what they have done is given a vote to the opposition, and maybe if they got a President Bachmann they would yearn for the good old days of President Obama.
Dr. Cornel West has found a listening hear in Tavis Smiley. It is hard to tell which guy dislikes the president the most. You be the judge. http://video.pbs.org/video/1950333343