Professor Cornel West has expressed his displeasure with more mainstream black academics in the past, but now that Melissa Harris-Perry has her own show on MSNBC it seems that the scholar has ramped up his attacks on her in particular. In a recent interview with Diverse Issues in Higher Education magazine, West said of Perry:

“I have a love for the sister, but she is a liar, and I hate lying … she’s become the momentary darling of the liberals, but I pray for her because she’s in over her head. She’s a fake and a fraud. I was so surprised how treacherous the sister was.”

Treacherous? Cornel West has always had a flair for hyperbole, but really?

His claim stems from his belief that she does not speak for the best interests of black America and instead is a liberal plant, put in place to pacify us and mainstream our thinking. He and Tavis Smiley, talk show host and his partner in the “Poverty Tour,” have spoken out many times against Barack Obama and the ways in which he enables economic oppression. Melissa Harris-Perry has been supportive of the administration, also departing from the West-Smiley agenda in that she expresses a more modern, feminist viewpoint.

The crabs in a barrel image comes to mind very quickly here, which is a shame because we really need a united front of black leadership and accusing folks of “treachery” for not snapping into line with any particular agenda cannot lead to that. There’s always room for dissent among our leaders but does it really have to come to this?

Melissa Harris-Perry’s new show premieres on February 18 on MSNBC.

What do you think?




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