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Cornel West

Cornel West is a Professor of Religion and African American Studies at Princeton University. In 2008 Barack Obama named Professor West to his presidential campaign’s Black Advisory Council. A longtime member of the Democratic Socialists of America, West is a Marxist and a great admirer of Obama’s former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

West views the United States as a nation rife with bigotry that finds expression in an endless flow of affronts and assaults aimed against the black community. He has branded the U.S. a “racist patriarchal” nation where “white supremacy” continues to define everyday life. “White America,’ he writes, “has been historically weak-willed in ensuring racial justice and has continued to resist fully accepting the humanity of blacks.” This has resulted, he claims, in the creation of many “degraded and oppressed people [who are] hungry for identity, meaning, and self-worth.”

Professor West attributes most of the black community’s problems to “existential angst derive[d] from the lived experience of ontological wounds and emotional scars inflicted by white supremacist beliefs and images permeating U.S. society and culture.” He explains that “the accumulated effect of the black wounds and scars suffered in a white-dominated society is a deep-seated anger, a boiling sense of rage, and a passionate pessimism regarding America’s will to justice.” “It goes without saying,” he adds, “that a profound hatred of African people … sits at the center of American civilization.”

In West’s view, the 9/11 attacks gave white Americans a glimpse of what it means to be a black person in the United States -- feeling “unsafe, unprotected, subject to random violence and hated for who they are.” “Since 9/11,” he said, “the whole nation has the blues, when before it was just black people.”

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