This is America. George Floyd’s murder by police, made public through a viral video, revealed to the world what the real America is, according to educator and activist Dr. Cornel West.
President Donald Trump created an environment that has helped in the unveiling, West suggested in an interview with The Guardian published on Oct. 19.
West recalled the day in August 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia, when a man drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters and killed a woman. The far-right protesters on the scene were bolstered by Trump’s declaration that they were “some very fine people,” despite the deadly violence they inflicted.
Dr. West, who taught at Yale, Harvard, the University of Paris, Princeton, and, most recently, Union Theological Seminary, happened to be in Charlottesville at the protest.
“I remember seeing those folk looking at us and cussing at us and spitting at us and carrying on. And then the charge, and the anti-fascists coming in to save our lives. But what I also remember is walking by the park and seeing these neo-fascist brothers listening to some Black music. I said: ‘Wow, this is America, isn’t it? These neo-fascist brothers listening to some Motown just before they going to mow us down.’ Ain’t that something?”
West was a steadfast supporter of Bernie Sanders and is among a group of progressive Democrats that feel they have no choice but to vote for Biden to ensure Trump does not remain in office. Some progressives, West included, considered creating a new political party. But they realized the time was not right and that there was too much at stake in taking back the White House.
“I am not crazy about Biden,” West said. “I don’t endorse him. But I believe we gotta vote for him. I am not in love with neoliberal elites either. I think they have to take some responsibility for this neo-fascist moment. But in the end, this white supremacy is soooo lethal … and it cuts so deep.”
America, said West, is –probably, as it always was — divided by race.
“When you think about it, 65 percent of white brothers voted for Trump and 50 percent of white sisters (in 2016). That’s the kind of country we live in. It’s like … Wow! If it wasn’t for Black folk and brown folk and progressive white folk … you voted for him then and you will vote for him again? Is that what we are talking about? With his impact on the world …everybody knows he is a gangster, everybody knows he is a pathological liar and a xenophobe.”
West, 67, said he is part of an “anti-fascist coalition” against Trump.
“What I don’t want to do is present Biden as some great defender of the poor and working people,” West said. “I don’t want to lie. We have had enough lies with Trump.” It’s Hobson’s choice. “When there is a cold-hearted, mean-spirited neo-fascist like Trump, I have got to try and push Biden over the line.”
Biden said he’s not too impressed with Kamala Harris. Black Americans can’t depend on “Black faces in high places,” West told CNN in an earlier report. He isn’t sold on Harris helping Black people. “She is a brilliant Black sister,” West said, but, “she is very much a part of that class and imperial hierarchy.”
Still, West said America’s true nature has come into clear focus with the killing of Floyd.
“George Floyd’s public lynching connected with the pandemic, connected with the neo-fascist gangster in the White House, and pulled the cover off who we really are and what our system really is,” West said. “We have been living a lie for so long.”
Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 73: Jamarlin Martin Jamarlin makes the case for why this is a multi-factor rebellion vs. just protests about George Floyd. He discusses the Democratic Party’s sneaky relationship with the police in cities and states under Dem control, and why Joe Biden is a cop and the Steve Jobs of mass incarceration.
He talked about the police killing of Breonna Taylor. The grand jury decision not to charge any of the police involved with her death “shows the system is decrepit; rotten,” West said quietly. “That is why it is more concerned with bullets going through the white neighbor’s door than the bullet that killed the Black sister.”
Despite all this, West still holds out hope for a better America. To improve and change the country, there needs to be a well-thought-out strategy, he said.
“Lincoln was a white supremacist for most of his life but, I mean, my God, he grew. He was a force for good. What happens is you begin to alienate certain members of a larger community that you are trying to speak to.”