Cornel West Quotes

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1. “The blues is relevant today because when we look down through the corridors of time, the black American interpretation of tragicomic hope in the face of dehumanizing hate and oppression will be seen as the only kind of hope that has any kind of maturity in a world of overwhelming barbarity and bestiality. That barbarity is found not just in the form of terrorism but in the form of the emptiness of our lives - in terms of the wasted human potential that we see around the world. In this sense, the blues is a great democratic contribution of black people to world history.”

Tags : Black Americans Blues Oppression World History
Author : Cornel West
Source : Democracy Matters: Winning the Fight Against Imperialism

2. “To be a jazz freedom fighter is to attempt to galvanize and energize world-weary people into forms of organization with accountable leadership that promote critical exchange and broad reflection. The interplay of individuality and unity is not one of uniformity and unanimity imposed from above but rather of conflict among diverse groupings that reach a dynamic consensus subject to questioning and criticism. As with a soloist in a jazz quartet, quintet or band, individuality is promoted in order to sustain and increase the creative tension with the group--a tension that yields higher levels of performance to achieve the aim of the collective project.”

Tags : Change Critical Reflection Improve Individuality Jazz Jazz Freedom Fighter Social Justice Unity
Author : Cornel West
Source : Race Matters

3. “In a time in which Communist regimes have been rightfully discredited and yet alternatives to neoliberal capitalist societies are unwisely dismissed, I defend the fundamental claim of Marxist theory: there must be countervailing forces that defend people's needs against the brutality of profit driven capitalism.”

Tags : Capitalism Marxism
Author : Cornel West
Source : The Cornel West Reader

4. “Nihilism is a natural consequence of a culture (or civilization) ruled and regulated by categories that mask manipulation, mastery and domination of peoples and nature.”

Tags : Domination Nihilism Social Science
Author : Cornel West
Source : The Cornel West Reader

5. “I grew up in traditional black patriarchal culture and there is no doubt that I’m going to take a great many unconscious, but present, patriarchal complicities to the grave because it so deeply ensconced in how I look at the world. Therefore, very much like alcoholism, drug addiction, or racism patriarchy is a disease and we are in perennial recovery and relapse. So you have to get up every morning and struggle against it. ”

Tags : Patriarchy
Author : Cornel West
Source : Breaking Bread: Insurgent Black Intellectual Life

6. “We have to recognise that there cannot be relationships unless there is commitment, unless there is loyalty, unless there is love, patience, persistence.”

Tags : Commitment Loyalty Relationships
Author : Cornel West
Source : Breaking Bread: Insurgent Black Intellectual Life

7. “Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.”

Tags : Justice Love Society Wisdom
Author : Cornel West

8. “I have tried to be a man of letters in love with ideas in order to be a wiser and more loving person, hoping to leave the world just a little better than I found it.”

Tags : Idealist Ideas Letters Love Wise
Author : Cornel West
Source : The Cornel West Reader

9. “Without the presence of black people in America, European-Americans would not be "white"-- they would be Irish, Italians, Poles, Welsh, and other engaged in class, ethnic, and gender struggles over resources and identity. (p. 107-108)”

Tags : Race Race Relations
Author : Cornel West
Source : Race Matters

10. “It is a beautiful thing to be on fire for justice… there is no greater joy than inspiring and empowering others––especially the least of these, the precious and priceless wretched of the earth!”

Tags : African Americans Antiracism Black Prophetic Fire Democracy Economic Disparity Empowerment Humanity Impoverishment Inspiration Joy Political Motivation Political Movements Poor People Servant Leadership Social Injustice Social Justice Social Movements
Author : Cornel West
Source : Black Prophetic Fire

11. “Of course, the aim of a constitutional democracy is to safeguard the rights of the minority and avoid the tyranny of the majority. (p. 102)”

Tags : Democracy Majority Minority
Author : Cornel West
Source : Race Matters

12. “I'm sure I've had my phone tapped for years, I don't think it's a crime against humanity they just ought to quit doing it, god damn it.”

Tags : Crimes Against Humanity Humanity Nsa Surveillance
Author : Cornel West

13. “And every historic effort to forge a democratic project has been undermined by two fundamental realities: poverty and paranoia. The persistence of poverty generates levels of despair that deepen social conflict the escalation of paranoia produces levels of distrust that reinforce cultural division. Rae is the most explosive issue in American life precisely because it forces us to confront the tragic facts of poverty and paranoia despair, and distrust. In short, a candid examination of race matters takes us to the core of the crisis of American democracy (p. 107).”

Tags : Culture Democracy Poverty Race
Author : Cornel West
Source : Race Matters

14. “I'm a bluesman moving through a blues-soaked America, a blues-soaked world, a planet where catastrophe and celebration- joy and pain sit side by side. The blues started off in some field, some plantation, in some mind, in some imagination, in some heart. The blues blew over to the next plantation, and then the next state. The blues went south to north, got electrified and even sanctified. The blues got mixed up with jazz and gospel and rock and roll.”

Tags : Blues Music
Author : Cornel West
Source : Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud, A Memoir

15. “In a democracy the poor will have more power than the rich, because there are more of them, and the will of the majority is supreme. --Aristotle”

Tags : Democracy Poverty
Author : Cornel West
Source : The Rich and the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto

16. “Aesthetics have substantial political consequences. How one views oneself as beautiful or not beautiful or desirable or not desirable has deep consequences in terms of one’s feelings of self-worth and one’s capacity to be a political agent.”

Tags : Aesthetics
Author : Cornel West
Source : Breaking Bread: Insurgent Black Intellectual Life

17. “As long as you're scared you're on the plantation.”

Tags : Activism Exploitation Fear Injustice Justice Resistance
Author : Cornel West

18. “119When you bring together the national security state and the military-industrial complex, when you bring together the prison-industrial complex and all the profits that flow from it, when you bring together the corporate media multiplex that don’t want to allow for serious dialogue... and then, when you bring together the Wall Street oligarchs and the corporate plutocrats, and they tell any person or any group, 'If you speak the truth, we’ll shoot you down like a dog and dehumanize you the way we did to dehumanize the brothers in Attica,' the only thing that will keep you going is you better have some love in your heart for the people.”

Tags : Love Military Industrial Complex Oppression People Prison Industrial Complex Truth
Author : Cornel West

19. “In these downbeat times, we need as much hope and courage as we do vision and analysis; we must accent the best of each other even as we point out the vicious effects of our racial divide and pernicious consequences of our maldistribution of wealth and power. We simply cannot enter the twenty-first century at each other's throats, even as we acknowledge the weighty forces of racism, patriarchy, economic inequality, homophobia, and ecological abuse on our necks. We are at a crucial crossroad in the history of this nation--and we either hang together by combating these forces that divide and degrade us or we hang separately. Do we have the intelligence, humor, imagination, courage, tolerance, love, respect, and will to meet the challenge? Time will tell. None of us alone can save the nation or world. But each of us can make a positive difference if we commit ourselves to do so.”

Tags : America Change Courage Future Hope Inequalities Justice Race
Author : Cornel West
Source : Race Matters

20. “The Poverty Tour provided the opportunity to meet many people who had been living paycheck to paycheck even before the economic downturn. To so quickly slide from the great middle into the underworld of the poor validated our suspicions that perhaps these citizens never really were bona fide, middle class Americans. Indeed, some economists assert that the middle class evaporated decades ago.”

Tags : Class Poverty Race
Author : Cornel West
Source : The Rich and the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto

21. “Too many young folk have addiction to superficial things and not enough conviction for substantial things like justice, truth and love.”

Tags : Conviction
Author : Cornel West

22. “We’re beings towards death, we’re featherless two-legged linguistically conscious creatures born between urine and feces whose bodies will one day be the culinary delight of terrestrial worms. That’s us.”

Tags : Philosophical Philosophy Of Life
Author : Cornel West

23. “We’re beings toward death, we’re … two-legged, linguistically-conscious creatures born between urine and feces whose body will one day be the culinary delight of terrestrial worms.”

Tags : Death Philosophy Philosophy Of Life
Author : Cornel West

24. “Like King, we need to put on our cemetery clothes and be coffin-ready for the next great democratic battle.”

Tags : Social Injustice
Author : Cornel West