New York Times photo
Cornel West, whom Wikipedia describes as “an American philosopher, academic, social activist, author, public intellectual and prominent member of the Democratic Socialists of America,” recently finished his stint as one of the 15 members of the 2016 Democratic Party platform-drafting committee (he was one of Bernie Sanders’ only-five picks to the committee) — only to endorse Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein. West, shown above campaigning for Bernie in Charleston, South Carolina, in January, correctly calls Stein “the only progressive woman in the race” for the White House.
Here is Cornel West’s piece for The Guardian, in full (the links are the original links, not mine):
A long and deep legacy of white supremacy has always arrested the development of U.S. democracy. We either hit it head on, or it comes back to haunt us. That’s why a few of us have pressed the president for seven years not to ignore issues of poverty, police abuse and mass unemployment. Barack Obama said it very well, following the shootings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, that some communities “have been forgotten by all of us.”
And now – in Dallas, Baton Rouge, Falcon Heights and beyond – this legacy has comes back to haunt the whole country.
Obama and his cheerleaders should take responsibility for being so reluctant to engage with these issues. It’s not a question of interest group or constituencies. Unfortunately for so much of the Obama administration it’s been a question of “I’m not the president of black people, I’m the president of everyone.” But this is a question of justice. It’s about being concerned about racism and police brutality.
I have deep empathy for brothers and sisters who are shot in the police force. I also have profound empathy for people of color who are shot by the police. I have always believed deliberate killing to be a crime against humanity.
Yet, Obama didn’t go to Baton Rouge. He didn’t go to Minneapolis. He flew over their heads to go to Dallas. You can’t do that. His fundamental concern was to speak to the police; that was his priority. When he references the Black Lives Matter movement, it’s to speak to the police. But the people who are struggling have a different perspective.
The very notion that Dallas is the paragon of policing is something that needs to be interrogated. The Dallas mayor said we have done nothing wrong, but look at your history. Ask people in southern Dallas about the police. Ask Clinton Allen, an unarmed black man fatally shot by the Dallas police in 2013. I was with his mother, Collette Flanagan, the founder of Mothers Against Police Brutality, last year. Countless people came up and told us about all the struggles black communities are having with the Dallas police.
Unfortunately, Obama thrives on being in the middle. He has no backbone to fight for justice. He likes to be above the fray. But for those us us who are in the fray, there is a different sensibility. You have to choose which side you’re on, and he doesn’t want to do that. Fundamentally, he’s not a love warrior. He’s a polished professional. Martin Luther King Jr., Adam Clayton Powell Jr. and Ella Baker – they were warriors.
Obama’s attitude is that of a neo-liberal, and they rarely have solidarity with poor and working people. Whatever solidarity he does offer is just lip service to suffering, but he never makes it a priority to end that suffering.
Obama has power right now to enact the recommendations made after Ferguson: better training, independent civilian oversight boards, body cameras. But he has not used executive orders to push any of these changes through.
This November, we need change. Yet we are tied in a choice between [Donald] Trump, who would be a neo-fascist catastrophe, and [Hillary] Clinton, a neo-liberal disaster. That’s why I am supporting Jill Stein. I am with her – the only progressive woman in the race – because we’ve got to get beyond this lock-jaw situation. I have a deep love for my brother Bernie Sanders, but I disagree with him on Hillary Clinton. I don’t think she would be an “outstanding president.” Her militarism makes the world a less safe place.
Clinton policies of the 1990s generated inequality, mass incarceration, privatization of schools and Wall Street domination. There is also a sense that the Clinton policies helped produce the right-wing populism that we’re seeing now in the country. And we think she’s going to come to the rescue? That’s not going to happen.
The American empire is in deep spiritual decline and cultural decay. The levels of wealth inequality and environmental degradation is grotesque. The correct response to this is: tell the truth about what is going on. Bear witness. Be willing to go to jail to fight for justice if need be.
When the system is declining, it can bring despair. That’s why Black Lives Matter – and all other young people of all colors who are mobilizing – is a beautiful thing. We are having a moral and spiritual awakening. It gives us democratic hope. Its not about having hope but being hope. It’s time to move from being spectators, to being actors.
Among his many other points, I share West’s contention that Barack Obama hasn’t done enough for black Americans, irrespective of Obama’s race.
In fact, I’ve long speculated that Obama has done even less for black Americans than would a president of another race even with a similar political ideology — out of Obama’s fear of being accused of doing too much for black Americans because he is a black American himself.
And yes, of course all lives matter and of course Obama is supposed to be every American’s president, but these assertions often if not usually are made to whitewash the fact that black Americans still struggle mightily — by most socioeconomic measures more than any other racial group — in a largely racist, white supremacist nation.
As I’ve noted, I don’t hold it against Bernie that he endorsed Billary. Because he ran as a Democrat, he pretty much had to. But he didn’t have to do so wholeheartedly, and he didn’t do so wholeheartedly. In my view, he did it with a major wink-wink.
And, of course, we Berners are free to vote for whom we wish, and like Brother Cornel (who, again, helped to write the Democratic Party platform, for fuck’s sake), I intend to vote for Jill Stein, who is not only the only progressive woman in the presidential race, but is the only progressive, period, who still is in the race.