Cornel West

Connect Intellectual Diversity to Justice Work

Diversity and Justice

(Photo Credit: Democracy Now)

Although an aggressive pursuit of racial, social, economic, and educational justice is admirable and necessary, those engaged in justice work must connect intellectual diversity to their efforts. You cannot claim to champion justice while failing to welcome and appreciate ideas and viewpoints divergent from your own. Justice isn’t justice when it’s disconnected from love. In fact, Dr. Cornel West, one of the greatest minds, public intellectuals, and fighters for justice in world history, often says, “Justice is what love looks like in public.” Are you so “woke” that you only see your ideas and viewpoints as the vehicles through which change can be instigated and engendered?

Democracy, Intellectual Diversity, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

When looking at how to create change, one doesn’t have to look any further than Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a real change agent and justice leader, the man who changed America forever. King met, engaged, and debated everyone, including racists and those desiring to kill and undermine him. He understood to develop solutions that have broad support discourse with those known and perceived to be disagreeable is required. The world-renowned slain civil rights leader was serious about democracy, keenly aware of how frank debate, especially with various opposing sides, is essential to an authentic multivocal, multiethnic democracy.

Kingian democracy, therefore, longs for inclusion, inclusion of all voices—regardless of how unsavory—revealing an unwavering faith in democratic ethics and possibilities. In Prophetic Fragments: Illuminations of the Crisis in American Religion and Culture, Cornel West (1988) asserts that: “King was convinced that despite the racism of the Founding Fathers, the ideals of America were sufficient if only they were taken seriously in practice. Therefore, King’s condemnation of and lament for America’s hypocrisy and oppression of poor whites, indigenous peoples, Latinos, and black people was put forward in the name of reaffirming America’s mission of embodying democracy, freedom, and equality” (p. 11).

King didn’t exclude the racist Founding Fathers from his notion of democracy. Unfortunately, though, too many in the postmodern epoch isolate themselves from others for far less critical differences. In this moment of increasing moral, social, cultural, political, and religious decadence, people will isolate themselves from others over the most inconsequential personal choices, including a choice not to “boycott” the NFL or make posts on social media platforms that pledge allegiance to their capricious brands of “woke.”

King embraced the reality that any valid notion of freedom and democracy must welcome intellectual diversity. As Booker T. Washington stated in his 1895 “Atlanta Compromise” speech delivered at the Cotton Estates and International Exposition in Atlanta, “In all things that are purely social we can be as separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress.” Washington, sharing some affinities with King, understood the power of intellectual diversity. Washington anticipates the Kingian “beloved community.” With agapic love, King evinced for a nation, for the globe how potent, how beautiful diversity in all of its flavors can be and how we can enjoy being “separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand.”

Postmodern Fragmentation: A Challenge for Justice Work

In Postmodernism or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, leading Marxist cultural theorist Fredric Jameson (1991) asserts that one of the central problems in postmodernism, the cultural and historical period in which we reside, is a general proclivity to cherish fragmentation and reject totality. This fatuous acceptance of fragmentation figures prominently in whether efforts to achieve racial social, economic, and educational justice are successful. Late capitalism’s cultural logic leads too many individuals, individuals claiming to work for justice, to quarrel with one another over their petty differences, sacrificing their collective interests and aspirations for their own selfish interests and wishes.

Selfishness and Justice

To overcome this troubling propensity for selfishness, courageous and indefatigable justice activists and leaders must expose the rot, the funk selfishness is. We should never allow our personal agendas and interests to hinder and supercede the collective good, interests, and aspirations. When we do, we equip and permit the elites, the oppressors, the ruling class to erect additional barriers to the work of justice that’s crucial to achieving justice.

Before you disengage with people, especially those who have the same interests and goals as you (just with differing ideas and methods pertaining to those interests and goals), recognize when your words and actions are self-defeating, frustrating the very justice work you profess to hold dear.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Dr. Cornel West’s Courage Should Make You Proud

Dr. Cornel West

(Photo Credit: MTV)

Too many milquetoast Americans, especially Blacks, lack the courage to offer a substantive critique of President Obama.  With the national unemployment rate for Black people being 13.5%, one would think that more Blacks would be propounding their criticisms of President Obama’s poor record of creating jobs.  In many predominantly Black cities across the country, Black unemployment is twice as high as it is nationally.  Although one may not always agree with Dr. Cornel West, former distinguished professor of African American Studies at Princeton University and now Professor of Philosophy and Christian Practice at Union Theological Seminary, one has to be proud of the courage he shows in his passionate criticisms of President Obama and his policies.

Dr. West’s accomplishments, brilliance, and academic work will forever make him one of the most important persons in American history.  He’s one of the greatest minds in world history.  Dr. West is one of the leading public intellectuals of our time.  As a responsible and effective public intellectual, Dr. Cornel West understands that he has a duty to speak truth to power.  He’s never been afraid to say and do things that might unsettle, unnerve, and unhouse people.

While many question the motivations of his vehement criticisms of Obama, the focus should be more on engaging in a discourse about the criticisms he proffers.  People who don’t want to enter into a conversation about his potent critiques of Obama simply desire to dismiss him as being bitter because Obama didn’t invite him to his first inauguration or first inaugural ball.  Well, after sponsoring and attending over 75 campaign events—many were located in brutally cold places—for President Obama, one would like to think that Dr. West would’ve received an invitation.  Dr. West has repeatedly stated that he’s not bothered by such an inane matter as not receiving an invitation.

One has to be proud of him for mustering the courage to take on some of the prominent liberals that have been given platforms by MSNBC to advocate for President Obama.  Dr. West asserts that MSNBC is a “rent-a-negro” network; that is, a liberal network that gives Black faces (e.g. Al Sharpton and Dr. Melissa Harris Perry) their own shows and/or allows them to make frequent appearances on other people’s shows in exchange for their puppy-dog loyalty to President Obama.  One person who is a stanch liberal and who has been friends with Dr. Cornel West is Dr. Michael Eric Dyson.  Dr. Dyson appears regularly on MSNBC and is a strong supporter and defender of Obama.  Dr. West contends that Dr. Dyson has “sold his soul for a mess of Obama pottage.”  Before Dr. Dyson became a frequent contributor on MSNBC, he was willing to critique Obama.  Now, he cannot find enough ways to praise Obama.

Dr. Cornel West’s record reflects a serious commitment to racial minorities, working people, and the poor.  He will not allow himself to be placed on the market for sale, as others have done for Obama.  West hasn’t let his black skin prevent him from criticizing President Obama appropriately.  Dr. West gives President Obama credit when he deserves it, but he’s never afraid to hold him accountable for horrible policy choices and his inattentiveness to the needs of poor and working people.

Dr. West has been on a “Poverty Tour” across the nation raising attention and support for the needs of the poor.  The poor is the only group in America without lobbyists in Washington, D.C.  West hopes to make the poor visible to President Obama and America.  His work to ameliorate the lives of poor people in America should be applauded and supported.

It’s not popular to be Black and say things in opposition to President Obama, but Dr. Cornel West isn’t willing to submit to the pressure of staying popular.  He’s working to hold President Obama, a man who has tremendous power, accountable to all Americans, especially the most vulnerable people in America: the poor.  For this, he should make us all proud.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Thugs

Across America, many Black boys are increasingly embracing the “thug life.” Once they reach adulthood, this embracement of the thug life persists. Although I understand that in the postmodern epoch there are various notions of what a thug is, all of these notions are ultimately harmful to Black boys. From the earliest age possible, Black boys need to have greater expectations from their parents than for them to live a thug life. It’s not enough to say that you keep your boys away from hip-hop music and violent video games and movies. Those things are not really what you should primarily concern yourself with. You should concentrate more on helping them to establish a pathway for a successful life. This could mean that even before the child enters into kindergarten, you begin to stress the importance of education to him or her and you become actively involved in his or her education. As soon as possible, begin to talk to your child about going to college or getting some post-secondary training. You can teach your child to be a hustler but being a hustler does not have to have criminality attached to it. Many of the best living Black men in America are hustlers in their own right—Dr. Marc Lamont Hill, Dr. Cornel West, Jerry Rice, Bishop T.D. Jakes, President Barack Obama, John Edgar Wideman, John Legend, Richard Dean Parsons, J.C. Watts, Colin Powell, Wayne Brady, and Montel Williams. Now, I’m not saying that these men are perfect—none of us are. I’m also not saying that they did not have struggles, setbacks, and challenges because they all did.  The one thing they all had was a determination to be successful and not thugs. They all had people in their lives, including their parents, who were willing to love them enough to help them develop a mindset focused on success.

I’m not trying to tell you exactly how to rear your children—I’m not qualified to do this. What I’m doing, however, is telling you that your children deserve to have parents who are committed to their success. They need you from birth to help them to understand how to be successful and to assist them with creating a pathway to success—this I’m qualified to tell you about. Every child deserves a chance to succeed!

A number of the Black boys who I grew up with and went to school with embraced deviant behavior even in kindergarten and many of their parents would get angry with the teachers and principals for exposing their poor behavior. Instead of the parents working to improve these boys’ behavior, they simply blamed the teachers and principals for their behavior. These parents needed to face the fact that their boys were simply exhibiting poor behavior. This poor behavior persisted for many of these Black boys into their teenage years where many became involved in using and selling drugs, having babies out of wedlock, getting sent to jail or youth detention centers, dropping out of school, and etc. I have to admit that some of their parents really tried to prevent them from getting involved in these things, but the boys elected to continue on with the poor behavior that they had engaged in since they were in kindergarten. Their parents never broke the cycle of poor behavior. Their parents did not stop them then and now that they were teenagers they embraced their deviant behavior as acceptable conduct.

These same boys now venerate bling bling over education. They treasure dope over hope. Why? Because they needed parents to give them positive examples of success when they were old enough to begin to understand notions of success. They needed to benefit from parents who made a serious commitment to establish a structure in the home that was geared toward success. They needed parents who did not mind saying to them that they were not rearing thugs!

As a community, we have to take the success of all Black boys into our hands when parents are not doing even to prevent their boys from becoming thugs. We have to be willing to tell them and show them what success is. We have to be willing to model success for them. It’s not enough for you to simply walk around and criticize these Black boys. When you see a Black boy who is not demonstrating the values, principles, and actions of a burgeoning successful man, then do what you can to help the boy. This may mean that you need to go talk to his parents and express an interest in investing in his future by doing things with him that are going to facilitate a successful life for him.

It’s time for us to reclaim our Black boys from futures dominated by incarceration, disease, gang activity, dope dealing, and robbery. I have committed my life to progressing Black boys and men to be the successes they deserve to be. What are you doing, could be doing, and/or willing to do to help Black boys and men to experience more successful lives?

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Higher Education in a Post-Affirmative Action Society

Too much attention has been devoted to whether or not affirmative action should be used in higher education. Many court cases have emerged surrounding the constitutionality of affirmative action. What is missing, however, is a serious exploration of what to do when affirmative action is no longer legally acceptable. When one carefully examines affirmative action, he or she can gain an understanding that affirmative action is an inadequate attempt to achieve racial and social justice in the first place. In Race Matters, Cornel West avowed this argument but made clear that affirmative action is still a small, yet significant step in the journey to achieving racial and social justice. With affirmative action being eliminated in some states and being weakened by the courts, this should not be perceived as an epoch when achieving a more diverse student and faculty population in higher education is impossible. There never should have been such an emphasis placed on affirmative action to generate an unremittingly more diverse student and faculty population in higher education. While I am not positing that affirmative action is not important, it is more useful to dedicate more time to many of the larger principles and values that gave rise to use of affirmative action in higher education. Equity and access were central to the formulation and implementation of affirmation action in higher education.

Just because we are witnessing the waning of affirmative action in higher education, does not mean that we should not be actively advocating for improved equity and access for minority students and faculty in higher education. We are going to have to approach ameliorating student and faculty diversity comprehensively. In Postmodernism or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, Fredric Jameson contended that one of the defining characteristics of postmodernism is a general celebration of fragmentation. Jameson asserted that postmodern people have a general skepticism toward seeking wholeness—totality. A serious effort to resist fragmentary thought has to accompany any critical effort to bolster student and faculty diversity in higher education. We are not going to augment student and faculty diversity in higher education if we do not champion institutionalizing improved equity and access for people of color.

One of the first things we need to do to increase the number of racial and ethnic minority students and faculty in higher education is to make an honest commitment to train educational leaders for racial and social justice. Teachers, curriculum directors, and administrators have to have an understanding of why diversity is important, and they must understand why knowledge about what racial and social justice is crucial to helping higher education institutions become more reflective of the larger society. While teachers, curriculum directors, and administrators are receiving undergraduate and graduate training, we have to let Schools of Education know that racial and social justice training needs to be an integral part of the education they receive. Students need to have a practical understanding of what racial and social justice is. At this point, minorities cannot afford for racial and social justice to be mere vocabulary words. Professors in Schools of Education have to let our future administrators, teachers, and curriculum directors know that their research, policies, and practices should be informed by racial and social justice.

Chief Diversity Officers at predominantly White colleges and universities have to offer professional development training for other administrators and professors about how to respond effectively to the diverse students they serve. These institutions must offer meaningful incentives for White professors and administrators to buy into the need for racial and social justice to be central to everything their institutions do. Schools of Education need to inform future professors, curriculum directors, and administrators about critical race theory (CRT). Engaging students with CRT gives them an opportunity to see why race must be central to all that they do in the future as educational leaders.

Higher education administrators are going to have to work harder to make sure that their predominately White institutions (PWIs) are spaces that are welcoming to all students. They must make sure their institutions are structurally welcoming to students and faculty of color. In “Nine Themes in Campus Racial Climates and Implications for Institutional Transformation,” Shaun R. Harper and Sylvia Hurtado found in over 15 years of published research that PWIs are not seriously trying to become welcoming places for people of color. One of the significant themes they found was that whiteness dominated in space, curricula, and activities at PWIs.  Higher education administrators, therefore, have to make sure that there is a greater presence of blackness in space, curricula, and activities.

At the end of the day, higher education administrators are going to have to engage in serious efforts to promote diversity at the admissions stage of the higher education pipeline. It is a social reality that access largely refers to admissions. More focused study and commitment is needed to significantly increase the number of qualified minorities who attend PWIs.

At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, one the leading research universities in the nation and world, there is an African-American student population that is less than 2%. This is pathetic—when one considers that near this institution is Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which has a significant African-American population. I am not advocating for institutions like the University of Wisconsin-Madison to admit unqualified African-American students, but the institution can certainly do much better than the less than 2% African-American student population it currently has. You can read more about my outrage at the lack of student diversity at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in a major Wisconsin newspaper here: http://badgerherald.com/news/2009/04/28/recertification_in_p.php.

Instead of arguing about affirmative action, we need to focus our attention on achieving the optimal goal of affirmative action: true racial and social justice. Racial and ethnic minorities in higher education are going to have to recognize that we need to leave discourses about affirmative action and move to discourses about racial and social justice. If we don’t do this, then we will see an exponential decline in people of color in higher education.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

The Queer Contradictions of the Black Church

Black Church

Although I am a strong supporter of the Black Church, it is important to think about and discuss some of the most vexing contradictions of it. First, I want to make it clear that I am a Christian, a member of the Black Church, a member of Paradise Church of God in Christ in Forest Park, Georgia, heterosexual, and an African-American. I love the Black Church, especially my church, Paradise Church of God in Christ in Forest Park, Georgia. I love my pastor, Bishop Paul L. Fortson, and my first lady, Evangelist Carolyn C. Fortson. Let’s be clear—this article is not about the church that I attend and my Pastor and First Lady.  This article has a larger purpose: to critique the contradictions in the way the Black Church treats homosexuality.

In the Black Church, especially in the Church of God in Christ, I often hear about how God despises homosexuality and I agree with this position because it is very much supported by Scriptures. My problem with how homosexuality is discussed in the Black Church, especially in the Church of God in Christ, is that it often comes off as being very hateful and/or insensitive. You can tell people that they need to change their ways without being so exploitative in the way in which you refer to them. For example, I have often heard in sermons in the Church of God in Christ homosexuals being referred to as “sissies,” “faggots,” and “dikes.” Now, this use of language is unnecessary to inform your audience that homosexuality is not supported by the Scriptures. This use of language seems to be tremendously mean-spirited. The role of the preacher and Church is to help to drive people to Christ—not to run them away. It seems that this use of language emerges from laziness and the failure of Black preachers in the Black Church to employ effective persuasion to change people’s homosexual ways, so they use a simplistic strategy: name-calling. Name-calling is for children—preachers are supposed to be adults, so act like it.

In Democracy Matters: Winning the Fight Against Imperialism, Cornel West (2004) writes, “For Emerson, to be a democratic individual is to speak out on uncomfortable truths; to be an active player in public discourse is to be thrown into life’s contingency and fragility with the heavy baggage of history and tradition, baggage like the American legacies of race and empire” (p. 74). As a person with a commitment to Socratic inquiry and bearing prophetic witness to Truth, I have to speak those “uncomfortable truths” that Cornel West states that Ralph Waldo Emerson talked about. If the Black Church was so serious about homosexuality, then it would not take homosexuals’ money during offering time. During offering time, I want to hear these preachers say, “We don’t want your gay money.” I want to hear them say, “Sissies and dikes stay in your seats because we don’t want your nasty money.”

The Black Church seems to be tremendously dishonest when offering time comes: Preachers become everyone’s friend when offering time comes because they want everyone’s money. I would just like them to remember how harsh they are to homosexuals during their sermons, so be consistent and honest and tell them you don’t want their money. If you can speak to them in such disparaging ways during your sermons, then use the same rhetoric when you are passing that collection plate around. How’s that for transparency? Have I unsettled you yet? If not, maybe I will now. In many Black churches, people are gaining salvation while many homosexuals are singing and playing the music that they are shouting and dancing too. Hmm…Now, when will these preachers remove the homosexuals from their choirs and music departments if they are so serious about homosexuality?

The Black Church’s love of money exposes its contradictions on the issue of homosexuality. With all of the sins the Bible speaks about, it seems that the Black Church wants to focus on the most divisive sins in the Bible. The reason why I see that preachers are wanting to focus on the more divisive sins is they gain them much more attention—just like controversy breeds cash in the media, controversy breeds cash in churches. Some preachers have even gained their fame by how harsh they speak about homosexuality, but where is the love of Christ in this harsh language you use about homosexuals? Did Christ say love and respect everyone except homosexuals? No!

While I very much contend that the Scriptures speak against homosexuality, I argue that the Scriptures also tell you to talk about homosexuality with love and compassion. Now, how can you say that you are treating people with love and compassion when you are calling them “sissies,” “faggots,” and “dikes.” I already know I’m going to receive a significant amount of criticism for this article, but what I have said in this article needs to be said. People think it is so funny when preachers in the Black Church try to get the audience’s attention by using derogatory language to refer to homosexuals, but what if more derogatory language was used to expose your lying, fornication, profanity, watching and viewing of pornography, intoxication, gossiping, and etc.? It may not be so funny to you anymore. Hmm…I’m just saying.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

 

Larry King’s Racist and Exploitative Interview with T.I.

Larry King

After being informed by my best friend, Santresa L. Glass-Hunt, that T.I. would be having an interview with Larry King, I could not wait to turn my television to view the interview.  As a great fan of T.I., I knew that this would be a good interview. Unfortunately, I witnessed Larry King making a conscious effort to exploit and be racist to T.I. and Black men collectively. King was relentless in framing and asking queries that put T.I. in negative light.  Of course, some of my readers will say I am going too far with my calling Larry King’s interview with T.I. racist. In Critical Race Theory: The Cutting Edge, Richard Delgado writes, “CRT [Critical Race Theory] begins with a number of basic insights. One is that racism is normal, not aberrant, in American society. Because racism is an ingrained feature of our landscape, it looks ordinary and natural to persons in the culture” (p. xiv). I could not agree more with Delgado on this point. Racism is so normal in our society that we do not always know it when we see it.  In the postmodern epoch, I see racism operating in a much more troubling way now: It is much more subtle and does not appear in such overt ways as it did during slavery and Jim Crow days. Drawing upon Delgado’s insights about racism, this article serves to highlight how Larry King’s interview with T.I. was intentionally racist and exploitative to T.I. and Black men collectively.

The paucity of sophistication with which the mainstream media employs to discuss and engage Black males has always been problematic. Larry King has continued in the racist and exploitative tradition of the mainstream media’s coverage of the Black male.  In his most recent interview with T.I., he never asked him a question that did not carry some negative weight with it.  Even when he asked one question that was supposed to be seen as a positive question, he decorated it with the negative dimensions of T.I.’s past. King did not want to give any significance to the good work T.I. has done before and after he has been released from prison.  Even when King did show him talking to young people situated in a juvenile detention center, King gave little attention to it.  It was almost like King was showing the small clip of T.I. speaking to the juvenile delinquents as a measure of defense against anticipated charges of racism. He could have avoided charges of racism and bias by making his questions more balanced, and understanding that there is much more to T.I. than what he went to prison for.

King’s line of questioning was aimed at showing that T.I. is dangerous, and for White people not to be fooled by the fact that he is articulate and well-groomed man; he wanted White people to know that this Black man is still dangerous. This is why he continued to ask questions about T.I.’s time in the prison, guns, and violence. While I understand that T.I. was on his show to talk about his recent experience in prison, he was also on the show to talk about his release from prison. I would, therefore, have expected to witness King give him a number of questions about what he is going to do now that he is out of jail. If Mr. King was so interested in talking about T.I.’s involvement with guns, violence, drugs, and his economically and socially disadvantaged upbringing, then why not ask him questions about how he is going to use his experiences with these things to improve his lives and/or the lives of others.  He could have also asked him how these experiences have had an impact on where he currently is in his life.

Instead of asking T.I. queries that are more forward looking, and that can actually demonstrate to people how to move beyond these negative things, King wanted to keep his audience focused on how “horrible” T.I., his life, and upbringing are. Larry King was frustrated with what he saw before him—an educated Black man who has had some misfortunes with the law, but still remains a successful hip-hop artist, business man, actor, and loving father. Some White men simply cannot handle Black men who are young, educated, and successful. Even Black men who have had a little trouble with the law and still remain successful, they seem to threaten the power structure that some White men have worked tirelessly to keep in place. Questions are often raised in the mainstream media about the civility and decency of Black men. T.I. showed Larry King just how civil and decent we can be—even when we know a White man is attempting to exploit us on national television. T.I. never got rude with Mr. King or started yelling at him. You know some people don’t think that Black men can engage in a serious conversation without getting rude and yelling.

One of the positives dimensions of the interview had nothing to do with Larry King himself, but with the people who called in to ask T.I. questions.  You could tell how much the people loved and supported him. One woman was so excited to have the opportunity to talk to T.I. that she admitted she was nervous. It would have been nice to see Larry King reflect some of the goodwill his callers did. After all, T.I. did grant him the first interview he had since he was released from prison. Now, where’s the decency and civility of this White man?

I know many people from Atlanta who say that they grew up in Atlanta where T.I. did (and some even say they went to school with him) and that he had choices to make and he made them. Well, “scholars,” thank you very much for stating the obvious.  When people try to suggest that they “made it” in Atlanta without having to go to prison, then I simply want to say to you congratulations. The social reality is, however, many people’s conditions were and are different, which lead them to different outcomes than those of you who “made it out” of Atlanta without experiencing trouble with the law. As Black people, we have to be careful with our lack of thorough critiques of our own people because we can be just as racist as Larry King was during his interview. Yes, T.I. had choices to make and he certainly made them. Those choices got him a little prison time but yielded him many millions. How many millions do you have?

I heard many Black people say that T.I. is so articulate during and after the interview with Larry King. Yes, he is certainly articulate. I would like, however, for Black people to stop being so stunned when you see and hear an articulate Black man. We can be articulate too! Larry King was unsettled and unnerved by this Black man who he found himself to be superior, yet T.I. was more articulate than he is. Despite how articulate T.I. proved to be, Mr. King wanted America to know that this is still a “thug nigga”—so beware!

Although I thought Larry King was a pretty okay guy before the T.I. interview, he revealed his true racist self during the interview. I am not suggesting that anyone boycott Mr. King or anything of the like. I would just suggest that we need to be more watchful of his line of questioning and treatment of a particular type of Black male—those like T.I. He treats those Black men like Michael Eric Dyson, Marc Lamont Hill, Cornel West, and others of this elite Black male status with great decency, but not those Black males like T.I. His feeling of the superiority of whiteness allowed him to see himself in a higher class position than T.I., leading to a fusion of racism and classism. T.I. deserved to be treated with much more respect.  Today, I salute T.I. for how he handled himself during the interview and for the commitment to helping young people, especially young people of color, to avoid a life of trouble.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison