VIDEO: Chris Hedges, Cornel West on the Demonization of the Black Poor
In the second part of the two-part premiere episode of his TeleSUR show, “Days of Revolt,” Chris Hedges sits down with political commentator and professor Cornel West to discuss the dismantling of the black prophetic tradition — a movement described in West’s recent book, “Black Prophetic Fire.”
“It was dismantled, one, by trying to instill a fear within black people, within poor people, within working people, so that we would no longer want to straighten our backs up and engage in collective fightback,” West explains. “What took the place of collective fightback was individual upward mobility. So that what was once in place, a much more stronger moral conviction, we saw ruthless ambition. So you look at the formation of the black professional class: doctors, lawyers, pharmacists, professors, politicians across the board, they have much less fire. Why? Because they are much more tied to ruthless ambition than they are to moral conviction. They are much less tied to a ‘we’ consciousness as opposed to just an ‘I’ consciousness concerned about upward mobility. There’s always going to be some prophetic professionals, but it’s a small slice and it’s not connected to the energies of black poor people. Completely severed as it were.”
“To an extent, don’t they even demonize the black poor?” Hedges asks.
“Elements of them do, and of course, they not only keep a distance, but they can contribute to the callousness and the indifference to the plight and predicament of the black poor, and to poor people across the board,” West says. “So, what happens is your warriors end up incarcerated or killed. You get your professionals who surface at the top that tend to be nerdy, smart, self-promoting, not taking any risks, very little courage, highly conformist and usually, when it comes to the battle, complacent.”
–Posted by Jenna Berbeo