Black Prophetic Fire (2012)by religious and cultural critic Cornel West was a necessary look into the history and writings of the black prophetic tradition. These are empowered individuals speaking truth to (white) power in a prophetic manner. Cornel’s account of them is stirring and empowering to say the least.
However, this is West’s latest work. As a public intellectual, neo-marxist and radical leftist, and a member of the black prophetic tradition in his own right, he has a key position to defend truth and attack injustice in a world where the alt-right and neo-nazism drive political policies from the top-down. Whether it is Brexit, Charlottesville, Roy Moore, Steve Bannon, or Trump, radical reactionism and the xenophobia and white supremacy it entails is a real and living threat against democracy in the world today.
West has not authored a single article or book involving democracy and its project in the Trump era. As a radical democrat (small d) myself, I hope he is sitting on something monumental because his silence is deafening.
West created a movement I would label as black Marxism: a form of neo-marxism specifically meant to address the needs of poor and working people, and the plight of black Americans in an America dominated by “vanilla brothers and sisters” living in equally vanilla suburbs.
America is a state of radical need for integration and desegregation. Cornel can lead this movement in academia and in colleges and universities worldwide, which are otherwise known as the final outposts of la résistance.
All this said, I cannot deny West’s involvement in the #BlackLivesMatter movement on a practical level. His arrests in this context are badges of honor as far as I’m concerned. I have no right to criticize his lack of involvement in la résistance from any position other than raw sincerity. So I offer a word of encouragement to Cornel that he might write and publish something and tour it that the voiceless might have a voice again.