[Read] ➳ Race Matters ➻ Cornel West – Dailytradenews.co.uk


Race Matters quotes Race Matters, litcharts Race Matters, symbolism Race Matters, summary shmoop Race Matters, Race Matters 1964a574 In This Essay Collection, Many Of Which Have Previously Appeared In Journals, West, The Director Of Afro American Studies At Princeton Author Of Several Books, Addresses A Number Of Issues Of Concern To Black Americans The LA Riots After The Rodney King Verdict Malcolm X Clarence Thomas Anita Hill Black Street Life These Topics Are All Timely Yet Timeless In That They Represent The Continuing Struggle To Include African Americans In Mainstream American Political, Economic Social Life Without Destroying Their Unique Culture The Essays Have The Feel Of A Fine Sermon, With Thought Provoking Ideas New Ways Of Looking At The Same Old Problems They Can Be Quickly Read Yet Take A Long Time To Digest Because Of West S Unique Slant On Life Already Well Known In Scholarly Circles, He S Increasingly Becoming Visible To The General Public This Book Should Make His Essays Accessible To A Greater Number Of People Library JournalPrefaceIntroduction Race MattersNihilism In Black America The Pitfalls Of Racial ReasoningThe Crisis Of Black Leadership Demystifying The New Black ConservatismBeyond Affirmative Action Equality And IdentityOn Black Jewish Relations Black Sexuality The Taboo SubjectMalcolm X And Black Rage Epilogue To The Vintage Edition


10 thoughts on “Race Matters

  1. says:

    Cornel West would probably not be offended if I pointed out that he doesn t quite have the literary talent of a W.E.B Dubois Who does He doesn t have the fiery character of a Malcolm X He comes across as someone sure of his ideas, but humble as an individual His ideas are clear and generally well expressed, though his presentation does have a kind of dry style, like an academic essay assignment The book does not have the kind of rigor to qualify as an analysis, and this isn t really philosophy It s a plain talking exposition of ideas, largely asserted or assumed, with a few explanatory examples and references to historical persons and ideas, but it isn t really argued out Mr West does his best to play fair by staking out ground that might bring together the right and the left, i.e he aims to be non partisan, though ultimately it s clear that he s coming from a Marxist perspective.For my own purposes I ll try to note some of the controlling ideas that define the various chapters okay, bullet points The problems of black folks go beyond the narrow focus of liberals and conservatives on social structure or behavioral problems First, it s not an either or, as structure and behavior go together and influence one another, second because cultural factors exist outside of political and economic structures e.g., family, churches, etc., and most importantly it s time to face up to the psychological factors of lost hope and spiritual nihilism that dominate the lives of the poorest and most despairing people We need love, self respect, integrity, leadership, and values that go beyond the commercial values that have come to dominate Black folks can t let the struggle simply be about getting black men the kind of power and dominance that white men have, to the detriment and neglect of black women, gay black men, and lesbians, and race identity and black nationalism can t trump moral and social issues of class, poverty, and human dignity Black folks shouldn t be hornswaggled into supporting someone like Clarence Thomas who isn t qualified to serve on the supreme court, who doesn t represent black interests, who cynically plays the victim of racism to secure his own position and achieve his own ambition while condemning others for exploiting race and support him just because of racial reasoning i.e., he s black so hold together and support him, even in the face of abuse of black women Anita Hill and Thomas s own sister whom he falsely blamed for welfare cheating Supporting such an unqualified individual represents an insecurity among black folks who unconsciously accept that we can t do better than this Black intellectual and political leadership are at an all time low, ironically due to the emergence of a larger black middle class having gone from something like 7% to 25% of the black population , with the middle class seeking white acceptance and affirmation and pursuing their own individual betterment as defined by America s commercial values Meanwhile what s really needed is community level leaders and grassroots organizers rather than leaders competing to become the voice of a national leader savior New black conservatives have emerged at least in part due to failures of liberals to directly address the real problems and to find an answer to the destructive despair and nihilism Affirmative action is still supportable because racism is still real and present, the black folks who want to end affirmative action are the ones who have already benefited from it, but they want to win legitimacy among their white peers, and pragmatically, even if the issue relates to class than race and gender, one can enforce rules that give opportunity to minorities and women, but if you just throw it down to trusting employers to use fair hiring practices with no accountability, racism and sexism can come back with a vengeance while employers claim color and gender blindness There s no evidence to suggest racism in hiring has really abated Black anti semitism and Jewish racism against blacks are destructive to both interests, they have a long history, coalitions and cooperation should be fostered, and there are many reasons for recent conflict between Jews and blacks, including the rise of political conservatism among Jews, their opposition to affirmative action, their social and political rise in America which outstripped the rise of blacks in the same time, the failure of black leaders to strongly condemn black anti semitism, the fact that blacks are somewhat blind to the very long history of European violent anti semitism, plus Jews support unjust practices of Israel regarding Palestinians while blacks don t understand the Jewish sense of urgency towards self preservation i.e., both blacks and Jews are caught up in racial reasoning rather than larger issues of social justice heck there s to thisAnd, in an effort to conclude my summary by addressing the final two topics Black sexuality is a taboo topic that should be addressed openly and not feared if progress is to be made Mythology about black sexuality is damaging Fear and fascination with black sexuality, and especially interracial sexual relations are at the core of racial conflicts Black people confront many contradictory problems relating to how they may be degraded, or made to feel ashamed or dirty, while at the same time being objects of sexual fascination for white folks Black folks have to be proud, not ashamed, and at the same time willing to accept a variety of expressions and sexual identities, without enforcing images of machismo on all black men Men and women must rise together Healthy sexual relations should be embraced whether intra racial, inter racial, hetero or homosexual At the same time, the author cautions in several places about the harmful effects of the commodification of sex, instant gratification culture, and hedonism Maybe I m not getting this quite right, so I ll just quote the final thoughts on this topic from the book As long as black sexuality remains a taboo subject, we cannot acknowledge, examine, or engage these tragic psychocultural facts of American life Further, our refusal to do so limits our ability to confront the overwhelming realities of the AIDS epidemic in America in general and in black America in particular Although the dynamics of black male sexuality differ from those of black female sexuality, new stylistic options of self image and resistance can be forged only when black women and men do so together This is not so because all black people should be heterosexual or with black partners, but rather because all black people including black children of so called mixed couples are affected deeply by the prevailing myths of black sexuality These myths are part of a wider network of white supremacist lies whose authority and legitimacy must be undermined In the long run, there is simply no way out for all of us other than living out the truths we proclaim about genuine humane interaction in our psychic and sexual lives Only by living against the grain can we keep alive the possibility that the visceral feelings about black bodies fed by racist myths and promoted by market driven quests for stimulation do not forever render us obsessed with sexuality and fearful of each other s humanity There s also a fair amount about Malcolm X The author saw a lot of unfulfilled potential in Malcolm X, whose strong expression of rage was focused on a psychological transformation in black people, but who tragically could not live long enough to mature and examine the implications of his approach The author saw Malcolm X as starting to transcend national boundaries, and overcoming some of the unfortunate tendency of Nation of Islam to respond to white nationalist power by adopting the same underlying formula i.e., by focusing too much on white power, it ironically kept white culture as the dominant force and turned black nationalism into a reactionary movement The author believed Malcolm would have gone beyond this in promoting black pride on its own terms, speaking out with appropriate rage to white abuses, but not allowing white culture to define the movement He also commented on the fact that, still young, Malcolm in his orthodox Muslim phase, could not yet transcend racial reasoning enough to be able to see the broader social justice issues, i.e., he could not criticize the patriarchal oppression of women and the anti democratic culture of Arabia, while he experienced the positive humanizing experience of being accepted as a black man.Now, this is all my sloppy effort at summarizing, I probably misrepresented something, and if you ve read this far and think I got something wrong, tell me


  2. says:

    Race Matters, published originally in 1993, is a book of its time, but also greatly applicable to 2011 Cornel West writes a series of essays covering the topics that most affect African Americans in American culture, such as identity, gender, despair, sexuality, black Jewish relations, how the political left and right have attempted to bring repair and how they have fallen short, the effects both Martin Luther King, Jr and Malcom X had on the black community and where the African American community stands today.There is argument that Race Matters is not a scholarly work While this may be technically so, West s treatment of these issues comes not only from his own experience as an African American who has been witness to the difficulties of living as a black man in a predominantly white society, but also is informed by his education as a theologian and as a professor at both Harvard and Princeton.West covers issues that occupy the minds of both blacks and whites, but often are avoided from the devastating long term consequences of slavery, and America s inadequate attempts from the political left and the right to correct inequities, to the effect white American culture has had on black identity and how crisis of identity has left many African Americans vulnerable to the viciousness of corporate greed and a market driven culture He writes, most of us remain trapped in the narrow framework of the dominant liberal and conservative views of race in America, which with its worn out vocabulary leaves us intellectually debilitated, morally disempowered, and personally depressed The astonishing disappearance of the event L.A riots from public dialogue is testimony to just how painful and distressing a serious engagement with race is Our truncated public discussions of race suppress the best of who and what we are as a people because they fail to confront the complexity of the issue in a candid and critical manner The predictable pitting of liberals against conservatives, Great Society Democrats against self help Republicans, reinforces intellectual parochialism and political paralysis pg 2 West, himself, believes unequivocally in the dignity and preciousness of all human life and does not dissolve into hate or rage against white culture to bring healing for African Americans In fact, while discussing Malcom X, he does bring up positive aspects of Malcom X s impact and care for his people, but finds it incomplete and lacking in certain areas He brings a coherent and easily readable analysis of how we got to where we are now in white black race relations and gives a general prescription for both the white and black community of how to begin bringing repair.It is clear that discussing these matters openly can feel like a virtual minefield for white people and for African Americans can touch on pain that is generations old I am grateful for Cornel West s work in that he lovingly, but candidly, approaches this extremely difficult topic in a way that allows me as a white woman, to engage in this issue in a informed and free manner in the future.


  3. says:

    25 years later it is disheartening to realize that this book is still completely relevant The current West Coates feud is explained pretty well, when you realize West is pushing a much progressive and radical agenda than Coates Also, West takes a much broader and accurate approach to issues of race, seeing them as a subset of larger economic and political issues Economic inequality and corporate power only enable the continued racism and bridging the gap on these larger issues with others equally situated like most of us is the only way anything will be different when the book is reissued for its 50th anniversary.On a side note West s analysis on the Anita Hill Clarence Thomas debacle is the best I ve ever read and it explains much of what happened, even though I lived through all those debates as a baby lawyer.


  4. says:

    For three years, I worked as the grantwriter and public affairs officer for the AAS C.org, an organization supporting North Carolinians living with HIV AIDS My great friend and colleague, who is very active in her sorority the Delta s , and I used to have great philosophical discussions in our line of work, it was necessary to try and learn as much about people of all different walks of life The we learned and could understand, the better we were able to serve the community So we would read biographies and essays and a myriad of material to feed our interests Last year in May, we read Cornelius West s Race Matters www. Race Matters Cornel We in tandem with Ted Nugent s Manifesto www. Ted White Blue Nugent It seemed like an interesting dichotomy to explore and boy, was it.Talk about a huge gamut of information I preferred West s essay format to Nugent s, but found that some points in each book resonated with me, while others were off putting a fact that both Chermaine and I found to be true for both titles I found West s observations on Malcom X s legacy and the crisis of black leadership to be especially interesting, and appreciate his efforts to present solutions alongside his criticisms Nugent, on the other hand, is unapolegetic in his political and social views his opinions are vastly different than my own, but there s something to be said about a person who just lays it out there like that, consequences be damned If I had the opportunity to meet one of the two, I think I d go with West.


  5. says:

    This is the first Cornel West book I have read, and, in fact, it is the first piece I have read fully on the issue of race As a white person, spending my formative years in an overwhemingly small white town, I was not exposed much to race issues There was some mention of slavery, but it was something that was well in the past, America having progressed since the Civil Rights movement In high school American history courses were largely focused on American foreign affairs especially American wars I hadn t heard much at all about black history College changed this quite a bit I had no idea about the origins of the NAACP or the many difficulties faced by black people after the Civil War I came to this book with many hopes, especially after hearing Cornel West speak in person The book, though mainly a criticism of black leadership and contemporary prospects for black communities I thought it would be concrete in its outlook and philosophical in its implications , it did not disappoint West talks about issues of contemporary racism by looking past racial reasoning with moral reasoning He also thinks that a contemporary prophetic black leader must be multicultural and international in his or her desire, not just localized and pastoring a specific race His analysis of contemporary thought on the problems that black Americans face was especially helpful for me, as he charts out a third way to understand these issues apart from conservative behaviorism and liberal structuralism.


  6. says:

    I read this book back in 1994, and thought West was right on target most of the time The essays were written in plain language, rather than the jargon of political theory I liked that they were also free of inflated hyperbole and attempts to boil down complex problems to trite slogans Moderate, conciliatory, and thoughtful, West ably dissects superficial thinking and hypocrisy on both the right and left side of the political spectrum Of course much of this material, written in the late 80s and early 90s will appear dated to some or not, depending on your particular view of the current state of race relations, black leadership, and the general American political, sexual, and cultural landscape At the time we had just gone through Reagan and Bush 1 who scans bizarrely like a moderate Eisenhower Republican compared in retrospect with the current model I d be interested to read what West thinks now, as we stand potentially on the verge of electing a black President I ll believe that when I see it, though.


  7. says:

    i picked this up out of curiosity, i did not know much about cornel west i was under the impression he was a scholar i m no scholar, but i know one when i read one i do not believe this book contains much research, nor do i believe it had anything particularly profound or scholarly the best i read in it was the way cornel west sometimes strings words sentences together in a rhythm other than that, he cannot hold a candle to the likes of frederick douglass, booker t washington, or to cover scholars from today thomas sowell or stephen l carter i might put him on par with joseph c smith with regard to depth of conceptsexcept that he s clearly liberal, while joseph c smith is conservative and also not masquerading as a scholar, which is what makes the one book he wrote a enjoyable read than this one i m not even sure it s worth 2 stars.


  8. says:

    I had to read this for a doctorate class To sum it up, white liberals are at fault for treating blacks like kids and thinking they need white taxpayers to support them, conservative whites and blacks are at fault for expecting blacks to take on personal responsibility and get an education, not commit crime, don t get pregnant until married and other acts deemed to be white which makes the middle class and upper class blacks who do so Uncle Toms, and being black must be the center of a black person s existence even if it isn t The fact that slavery once existed over 160 years ago and Jim Crow existed means permanent affirmative action Oh goodness Even the parts about black sexuality make no sense West is the director of the black studies program at Princeton which essentially graduates black students with a useless major but hey, that s the fault of whites too.


  9. says:

    A sharp and eloquent book, marred by a few loose arguments here and there West is dead on about many things, patiently and carefully laying out volatile issues and explaining approaches to improve them Since this is a collection of essays, basically, some will obviously interest you than others, but they re all worth reading and mulling over The only weak points come at some moments in his reasoning, at which he substitutes a pat conclusion or an unsourced claim for a carefully planned argument most egregious when he calls out black conservatives for making conclusions without providing sources and context, then later in the same chapter makes a number of contentious general statements about black conservatives without sources or context Still the book is well written, carefully argued for the most part , and thoughtfully empathetic.


  10. says:

    I so wish I was close enough to Princeton to be able to take a course or two of his there although I hear he is moving to Union Theological Seminary soon to teach there.Race Matters is a series of lectures exposing and criticizing the moral ethics of racism and many other isms that run side by side with racism.The beginning story from Cornel West s real life experience in preparing this book for publication says it all Nothing trumps the lived experience As Bob Marley said who feels it knows it.Very thought provoking I so admire the man for his openness to debate and his clarity of position and thought.I followed West throughout the run up for President supportive of Obama but with a critical edge.I ll probably read this book again soon.


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