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From Black Voices — Dr. Cornel West apparently has a bone to pick with President Barack Obama. Over time, the good Dr. West has become increasingly vocal in his critique of Obama, and even went as far as to say that Obama treated him “like a cub scout,” when refusing to address his concerns about the administration’s behavior.

“Well, I’ll tell you, I had not talked to my dear brother since the Martin Luther King gathering in South Carolina, and very briefly Super Tuesday. But he did come and make a beeline to me after his speech on I think it was Thursday morning in Washington, D.C. I hadn’t seen him for two and a half weeks, and he made a beeline to me, though, brother, and he was deeply upset. He talked to me like I was a Cub Scout, and he was a pack master, you know what I mean?

I said, well, my mother and father raised me right. I respect my dear brother, but I don’t like to be demeaned and humiliated in that way, and I didn’t get a chance to respond to him. And I hope maybe at some time we can. But it was very, it was a very ugly kind of moment, it seems to me, and that disturbs me because then it raises the question for me: Does he have a double standard for black critics as opposed to white critics?”

It’s no surprise that West would be on the outs with Obama. The president has an intense loyalty to Harvard University and former Harvard University President Lawrence Summers, the man who has proven that he has almost no appreciation for black scholarship. I too find myself irritated that Obama maintains such strong allegiance to those who don’t respect the African American community or care to spend any time helping us to address unique social and economic challenges.

A broader point to be made about the rift between Professor West and Obama is one of class. Cornel West is not just a champion for black people. He is also a champion for the poor, the powerless and the downtrodden. Dr. West’s constituency is almost directly opposed to the latte-sipping, Martha’s Vineyard vacationing, Harvard University attending folks who run with President Obama. This reminds us that fighting for black people can be very different from fighting for poor black people: Obama almost always stands up for black folks, as long as they either went to Harvard or have millions of dollars in the bank.

Obama has chosen an unqualified woman, Elana Kagan, for the Supreme court, primarily because she is associated with Harvard. He spoke up for Henry Louis Gates last year, not because he was a black man, but because he was a Harvard Professor who asked for his help. Obama lives among the elite, and Cornel West is an academic version of Jeremiah Wright. The relationship between West and Obama was doomed from the very beginning.

Another speculative point that can be made about Cornel West’s outspoken opposition to Obama’s policies is one that relates to Mr. Tavis Smiley. I’ve always been of the opinion that Tavis has personal reasons for accentuating his political disappointment with President Obama. I honestly believe that had Obama been more open with Smiley and provided him with the same opportunities he has received from Hillary Clinton, Smiley would not have been so harsh in his attacks.

(Continue Reading @ Black Voices…)

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  • Iguehi

    @ Kamika, you better go girl!

    @ Melissa “He is always trying so damn hard to come off as progressive and helping the poor, its a little tired.”
    — What do you mean by this? Why is it a “little tired” to come off as progressive and helping the poor? God forbid, we all stay neutral and nothing in our community is discussed.

    First of all, we need to always remember and appreciate the Black leaders that came before Obama. I don’t feel comfortable with bad talking Cornel West or Tavis Smiley because they voice their opinion (when in fact, isn’t that why we loved them originally? For being so out spoken?) Second, just like Kamika said, as much as we want to love Obama because he is our first Black president, we have to keep him accountable for his policies especially his lack of attention on the Black community. Both understanding the difficult position he is in to re-build this country from an economic disaster and also holding him responsible for not reaching out to the people of color, like they expected. (At least for some reassurance)

    Anyways, before Obama, I was a lover of Cornel West; his insight, his theories and his image. Just because he doesn’t care for how Obama treated him, doesn’t mean he deserved to be shunned by those who’ve held him up for so high.

  • Lady_Detroit

    @ Pbomb & @ Kamika: Just about said everything that I wanted to say. Well put.

  • Elan

    i believe in educated public dissent… but I think PRESIDENT Obama is often the receiver of personal public disssent. Cornell West is a great intellectual and he pontificates on the problems of African-Americans and the poor. However, he is just that — an intellectual. Tavis Smiley is/was a jounalist that has become famous by pointing out and educating the public about very obvious issues. Neither Dr. west, nor Tavis Smiley are grass-roots activists that are in the community trying to make changes. They are both political pundits making money off of teaching and speaking engagements. That doesn’t make them bad people, nor does it make their criticism invalid. However, all criticism should be taken in perspective. Their criticism may have some level of truth to it, but it would not be a stretch to believe it is tempered with personal angst because they are not the “go-to” men on all issues of Black America.

    I challenges to President Obama’s policies are in order — because that is what concerned citizens do. However, I also believe that unfair expectations have been placed on his shoulders. This country has been in a bad situation economically for several years. We expect him to make changes instantaneously… and this is unfair. African American’s unemployement rate has always been higher than the national average. it is unfair to believe that the President can boost our employment rate when he is having difficulty bringing it up across the board. Just because he happens to be Black — we cannot develop unreasonable expectations. That is not to say we shouldn’t expect anything, but we need to be real about it.

    Finally, let’s get educated! We need to uplift each other and be working to make the world better for the next generation. We can’t do this if we don’t know what’s going on. Let’s stop reacting/commenting strictly on emotions… and get educated on the issues and topics discussed.

    Sidebar: I have no allegiance or history with Harvard… but I know their scholarship programs are opening up the Ivy League for minorities like no other Ivy school – so they should be commended and not berated. Prof. Ogletree is still holding it down. And Elena Kagan, although not previously a judge, is qualified for the Supreme Court. She has the same education as everyone currently sitting on the bench, and she is a licensed & competant attorney. Besides that, the Constitution does not require an individual to have any legal background in order to be a SCt Justice. And that is my legal opinion. EDT, esq.