Brain Dropping #87
I’m giving over my Brain Dropping digital space to Cornell West on the occasion of a discussion of his new book “Prophetic Black Fire.” When Professor West was asked why he used the term “Black” rather than “African American” he spoke of the need for historical context and continuity. In effect, he was saying, using the term “African-American” caused a psychological distancing from the history of extreme barbarism suffered by American Blacks at the hands of white Americans and Europeans, and trivialized the irrational hatred against people of color. He goes on to explain that using African-American equates the Black man, at least terminologically, with Italian-Americans or Jewish-Americans, or any of the hyphenated ethnic groups, who were not forced to sit at the back of the bus, or drink from segregated water fountains. George Carlin had a term for such euphemistic trickery – he called it “soft language” – a way of mitigating or hiding the pain of reality.
Professor West believes the age of the neo-liberal Obama Presidency has made the radical Black prophetic tradition of Frederick Douglas, Ida Wells W.E.B. DuBois, Fannie Lou Hamer, Martin Luther King and Malcom X, weak and feeble. His moral horror at Obama’s betrayals is well known, but it has a powerful impact to hear him directly indicting not only the President, but the leadership of the Black community and media, which are loath to say anything negative about the first Black President – a Black man who has become the Chief Executive of the oppressive “Surveillance Empire” and a war zealot.
But let Cornell West speak for himself: : :http://www.truthdig.com/avbooth/item/sparking_black_prophetic_fire_20141116