Cornel West: You Enslaved Us, You Aren't Going To Kill Us Like George Floyd; "We've Got To Self-Defense"
Dr. Cornel West's commentary on race in America and the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer that is charged with the murder of George Floyd, left CNN host Don Lemon in tears Thursday night when he spoke about the need for black people not to remain "spectators" to violence but to fight back.
"It takes us to the most fundamental question that has always sat at the center of not just America but the 400 years that you and my ancestors have been here," West said about race and the United States. "Which is do we have the will to stay in contact with the rich humanity of black people? To stay in contact with the beauty of black people, the intelligence of black people, the tenderness of black people, the soulfulness of black people. When you talk about Brother George, Perry Floyd Jr., you're talking about a human being. You're talking about a precious son."
"You enslaved us. You exploited us. You tortured us. You tried to barbarize us and we responded with more love, more freedom, and more wounded healing. Then we came back for another 100 years of neo-slavery. We failed on that again. It looked like we were making a breakthrough. It looked like it under Brother Barack Obama, we're making some progress. Here comes the backlash again," West said.
"Do we have what it takes to really acknowledge the rich humanity of black folk to treat us fairly, to treat us like human beings?" West asked. "Because if not, you're going to lose your democracy. You're going under. You're going fascist. If it wasn't for black voters, especially black women voters, you would have gone fascist under the gangster named Trump."
West also laid out what it means as a black man to watch the entirety of the infamous George Floyd video. The Princeton professor called on black Americans to rel on "self-respect" and "self-defense" and no longer remain a "spectator" to violence.
"I thought about my brother and my father and my grandfather. I'm not going to stand there for no 9:26 and watch somebody murder my father. No, no! Nuh-uh, no, no, no," West said.
"Martin Luther King Jr. talked about pacifism," he continued. "And I believe in nonviolence but I'm not going to watch that kind of murder. I love my Brother Charles McMillian when he was crying. That's what his tears were about. He felt helpless. We are not going to do that. Some of us black folk, some of us black men, we are not going to stand there. We are going to have to intervene in some way."
"You aren't going to kill us like that and we remain spectators," West declared. "Somewhere I read, silence is not an option. I don't stand with the silence... America needs to understand that, too. We've got to self-respect. We've got to self-defense. And we intervene when you start killing us like that."