Cornel West to Obama: Don't Be Afraid Of Fox News, "Stand For Truth"

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CNN's Brian Stelter invited Cornel West for a deep discussion about race in America.

First, Stelter asks West about the president's now-infamous use of the word "nigger" on Mark Maron's "WTF" podcast last week.

West says Obama needs to come to terms with what the word really means:

What does he mean by "nigger?" What does it mean to keep people afraid and scared and intimidated, to keep black people thinking that we are less intelligent and less beautiful, to make sure we are still dominated in our minds, that we still have slave mentalities.


He is saying that you can not erase the word's history of use as a tactic of dehumanization by pretending it never happened, because the damage must be healed.

"It is a matter of truth," says West. "And allowing suffering to speak, it is a matter of justice, and [Obama] should have been talking about it for seven years."

"It is not about the word, it is about how does it get us to come to terms with the truth about America. Founded on white supremacy, indigenous peoples' land taken, their babies and women violated, enslaved Africans for over 80 years under the U.S. Constitution, unbelievable terrorism and torture.

And yet out of that, what have black folks done? Out of hate, we have taught the world how to love."

Finally, West says that these issues are "too marginalized" on cable TV news.

"You got MSNBC, it is basically Obama propaganda, Fox News right wing propaganda, CNN much more ambiguous, able to generate some insights, like your show, but CNN fearful because you gotta deal with profit margins, making money."

Full transcript:

CORNEL WEST: The problem is that you have a long history of denial when coming to terms with the vicious legacy of white supremacy...

[Obama] has to come to terms with what he is talking about. What does he mean by nigger? What does it mean to keep people afraid and scared and intimidated, to keep black people thinking we are less intelligent and less beautiful, and to make sure we are still dominated in our minds, we still have slave mentalities.

When we reach the point that we understand that the legacy of white supremacy is an issue of national security, it is a matter of truth, and allowing suffering to speak, it is a matter of justice. Justice relates to many different issues, but racism is what, the one issue that can bring the curtain down on America, he should have been talking about it for seven years, I'm glad the president is beginning to speak about it much more consistently...

One thing about how we're talking about the flags. It is not a matter of region. You've got good brothers and sisters of various colors in the South, West, Midwest, East, but the legacy of White Supremecy is systemic.

The president said a few months ago with regard to Ferguson that "racism is not endemic."

That is a lie Mr. President!

It is endemic, it is systemic.

It is a political calculation, he's afraid of Fox News, he's afraid of the right wing, he thinks they're going to attack him.

They're going to attack you anyway, Mr. President. Stand for truth, stand for justice, that is the legacy of John Coltraine, Martin Luther King Jr...

He is a politician. He needs to stand up out of moral conviction... Truth, justice, and how do we relate to each other as human beings...

The greatness of black people is that we have refused to hate in the face of hate. The mother of Emmett Till said what, "I don't have a minute to hate, I will pursue justice all my life."

She didn't say forgive prematurely, you're talking about the white folks who did it, making the white folks center stage again, the love that flows to the vanilla side of town, begins on the chocolate side of town.

That's what was coming through in those magnificent witnesses. I believe forgiveness is a long process not an utterance...

But the important thing is you are not going to hate, and just contribute to more hate, that is the genius of the best of the black freedom struggle...

We've got a long way to go, we just have to keep smiles on our faces and love in our hearts. We forgive, yes. But we also fight. Gotta be love warriors, justice warriors...

It is too marginalized on [cable TV news].

You got MSNBC, it is basically Obama propaganda, Fox News right wing propaganda, CNN much more ambiguous, able to generate some insights, like your show, but CNN fearful because you gotta deal with profit margins, making money...

How many conversations do you have like this on CNN?

You have discussions of black people, and black faces, but I'm talking about telling the truth. Truth is not connected to skin color.

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