“No other people have been taught systematically to hate themselves, psychic violence, reinforced by the powers of state and civic coercion, physical violence, for the primary purpose of controlling their minds and exploiting their labor for nearly four hundred years.” -Cornel West
Cornel West book “Race Matters” points out various issues facing the Black race and others that surround them. He mentions that Black people are unique in this country, they don’t face the same social, economic or discrimination as does other races.
Each chapter opens with a profound excerpt from various Black leaders like Malcom X, Richard Wright, Lorraine Hansberry and Toni Morrison just to name a few. Each of these introductions fall into place of his chapter as he relates a compelling analysis of how Blacks are struggling due to racial conflict in america.
Chapter 1, Nihilism in Black America, expresses how poor people struggling for decent housing and other cutbacks are a threat to the nihilist threat to Black america. The survival of Blacks has always been a struggle. West questions where we went wrong. Whether integration was a problem or the rising expectations of the sixties?? Whatever the case, Black existence in America has sometime gone unseen or unnoticeable until negativity strikes or until we got a mixed president.
Since West wrote this book in 1993 there have been many positive changes for america but more specifically Blacks. In chapter 3 The Crisis of Black Leadership, West criticizes many men who have posed as leaders in the past and are still around doing nothing. He mentions Jesse Jackson, Harold Washington, Clayton Powell, Jr and Ronald Dellums, all who West feels has not met the leadership mark. He later mentions that Malcolm X was one leader that actually made a large difference because of the truth he spoke directly to all races and the actions he took.I believe the Marcus Garvey had a even greater impact the Malcolm X. Nevertheless, both very closely related.
He used the term H.N.I.C (Head Negro in Charge) in reference as how those days are over and a true leader needs to arise. One who is race-transcending prophet who critiques power and will make the 1960’s look like a tea party. How do Blacks account for past leaders like Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, Fannie Lou Hamer, MLK, and Malcom X in 2013? Intellectual leaders are big on social networks but not television, magazines or newspapers. Blacks are in need of more W.E.B. Du Bois, Anna Cooper, and Ralph Ellison just to name a few.
In the book the most interesting chapter was on Black-Jewish Relations. I never questioned Blacks and Jews relationship or even wondered if there was one at all. With the two races I can only assume that there is hurt on both sides from the actions that have been placed against them in perspective countries. Blacks have been killed, slaughtered and enslaved and the Jews have a large history of those things as well. I think the Jews have made a better and more successful mark here in america by owning businesses and staying in touch with their true cultural lineage. Suck as religion and other facets.
Chapter 7 pointed out a compelling topic that reminded me of Dr. Frances Cress Welsing and what she wrote in the Isis Papers. Black Sexuality: The Taboo Subject stood out to me because I am a product of Black sex. It amazes me how Black sex can be threatening to other races. I believe we are the mothers and fathers of civilization and it has been proven, therefore Blacks were the first Human beings and other races are formed from us. Is Black sex, Black Power? Are Black women desirable sex partners to other races? These questions have been found true according to the actions of white slave owners. So why is it deemed a threat? Do Blacks have the potential for sexual power over whites? Some whites view black sex with disgust and some view sex in general with disgust. Black sex has always been questioned by whites, even during slavery when they castrated Black men and raped Black women. No race should be fearful of another’s humanity but remember that there is only one race, the human race.
The last chapter titled “Malcolm X and Black Rage” was my favorite. It was very insightful how West broke down what Malcolm X did and how it impacted the community. He said that Malcolm X was the first real Black spokesperson who looked ferocious white racism in the eye, didn’t blink and lived long enough to tell america the truth. If more Blacks were as bold, knowledgable, and conscious to confront issues of 2013 as Malcolm X was, Blacks wouldn’t be in the places they are now.
Furthermore, the book points out the moral vision and aim that African-Americans need to take in order to defeat racism and nihilism. I would recommend this book to anyone who believes race is not an issue in america during 2013. This was a bold book as he doesn’t discriminate in calling out those who have accomplished and posers who are only looking for fame during the Black struggle. Though the book was written in 1993 it still remains an important writing until the “Black community” is lifted from the slumps of america.