Somebody Take Away Cornel West’s Pens, Paper, Computer Passwords, Scarves, Glasses, Etc… » VSB

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Somebody Take Away Cornel West’s Pens, Paper, Computer Passwords, Scarves, Glasses, Etc…

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I’m not a fan of Ta-Nehisi Coates. I respect the hell out of the man, but a fan? Nah. I understand, however, that many people are and I am okay with this. But me, myself, and I? We are still not a fan. It’s nothing personal. I don’t know the man nor have I ever seen him in person. He never stole my bike or tried to holler at my girl behind my back. For all intents and purposes, he’s probably a stellar human-being who always tips appropriately and do you remember when Common asked if he could borrow a dollar? Maybe he sent him one. Yo no se.

I’m not a fan because I do not enjoy his writing style. At all. Not in the slightest. I find it unnecessarily dense. I also find myself feeling like an ignoramus reading his works at times. And I do not enjoy feeling like an ignoramus. I get annoyed when I know what all of the words mean individually but have trouble comprehending what I’m reading because of the combinations being used. I acknowledge this is my own problem but still. I’m no dummy and my home has many leather-bound books and smells of rich mahogany. It’s a stylistic thing mainly and I’m okay with that; I’m of the think like a wise man but speak in the voice of the people school of communication. So I get turned off easily by those who limit the amount of people who can access and digest the very truisms that we all need to hear in the first place. To quote Erykah Badu…what good do your words do if they can’t understand you?

But like I said, it’s not personal. I feel the same way about any number of Black scholars like Michael Eric Dyson and his best friend forever, Cornel West.  If you’ll remember, Dyson wrote a love letter to West that pretty much said, “Cornel, you fucked up some commas, BACK WHEN YOU WERE RELEVANT.” Seemingly out of the blue.

True to form, Mr. West (the Californian, not the Chicagoan) decided to Beyoncé the Black intelligentsia game recently with his own critical analysis of Mr. Coates and his recently released book, Between The World And Me, a book that I’m sure people will tell me I should read to which I’ll reply, somberly, “I can’t”. I won’t cut and paste parts of the statement West dropped on Facebook of all places, but you can read it here, in all of its succinct glory.

Part of the reason I don’t like Coates is his style. The other is that I’m not a fan of academic writing that seems to be part of a cirlce-jerk of Black writers who write for themselves, other Black academics, and white folks in some language that really only serves academia well. While I also don’t get the entire hype behind Malcolm Gladwell (and I own and have read all of his books waiting for that ‘greatest book ever’ zing to hit me), he writes in a fashion that is accessible and digestible. Coates isn’t an academic, he’s just a guy whose got a nasty pen game that’s made him the subject of sincere adulation and praise. And he deserves it. His essay entitled, The Case for Reparations, which was as impressive as it was long (pause and that’s what she said) deserved every bit of kudos it received. It was well researched, contstructed, and premised. It was long as fuck #doe (it’s entirely possible that I’m still reading it now and Flex dropped bombs all over that thing in June of 2014) and it definitely took me a long time to get through it. But that’s, again, my problem not his.

Panama slow.

West, a man who isn’t slow, seems to also not be a fan. Which is interesting. It seems like all of the Blackademics of note seem to be sniping one another lately. And Cornel, a man whose star has begun to dim a bit since he started going at President Obama many moons ago, is yelping. I’ve not read Coates book (Panama slow remember), and honestly, I have no clue if Cornel has either. In fact, he seems mostly miffed by the fact that Toni Morrison (another abstract ass writing ass mofo…like, have you honestly made it through Beloved?)  called the book required reading. But it’s right there on the cover – I saw the book in person (cue angelic voices) at my local Busboys and Poets yesterday – and it seems like West no likey. For various reasons, but mostly because perhaps there’s a new sheriff in town.

And that’s what all this educated ass sniping seems to come down to, in my very humble opinion. For a long time, these guys, the Dyson’s and the West’s were the kings of the hill, sitting on their Ivory towers espousing all of this philosophical Black talk about the condition and the symptoms of it all. Their voices mattered in a way that was respected and awed. But times they are a changin’. Dyson is still oddly popular though it would take a serious intervention for me to understand why. But West, well, his footing seems long gone. And Coates seems like the next man up. The way his essays are spread via social media is impressive. People hit me up ask me if I read that new piece by TNC. People slide in my gchats to say, “I love TNC!”

He even has a dope acronym for a shorthand nickname. Meanwhile, ain’t nobody really checkin’ for Cornel West anymore. While I thought Dyson’s screed was a bit petty – and I’m all for petty – he wasn’t actually wrong. Which is why West going at Coates seems so extra petty. Dyson and West have positioned themselves as voices of a generation and worthy of note. TNC…my man is just writing his ass off and forcing himself into the conversation by being an individual whose finger is not only on the pulse, but with enough depth to express it in terms that both young and old people can cling to and appreciate. He’s the now, and it’s not because he’s asking for it, it’s because he’s good enough that its hard to deny it. I’ve pointed out that I don’t care for him but I respect the hell out of what he’s done and written.

Are you listening Cornel?

On a funny sidenote, I had the privilege of speaking at Princeton University a few years ago at a conference about Hip-Hop and Cornel West was there. Blowhard that I think he may be (now…I do respect what has done even if my views of him are less than stellar), you can bet your ass that I noticed when he walked in. You want these guys to pay attention to you, and he did. He told me after I’d eviscerated any number of institutions and rappers that I did Morehouse proud. Dr. Imani Perry was also on a panel with me. I was amongst good company. I wasn’t a Cornel West fan then. But you better believe I gave him a copy of our book AND took a picture with him holding it…the book.

All that to say, Cornel needs to chill the fuck out…and I have no shame.

Thanks, Obama.

Panama Jackson

Panama Jackson is pretty fly (and gorgeous) for a light guy. He used to ship his frito to Tito in the District, but shipping prices increased so he moved there to save money. He refuses to eat cocaine chicken. When he's not saving humanity with his words or making music with his mouth, you can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking her fine liquors. Most importantly, he believes the children are our future. You can hit him on his hitter at panamadjackson@gmail.com.

  • TheOtherJerome

    Cornell West is like the perverted Beetlejuice of Black intelligentsia; you say someone else’s name three times (Obama, Coates) then West pops up.

    “You rang, my brotha?”

    • NKORigible

      LOL!

  • I don’t like academese myself…I understand it, but mostly skim through it, and usually I get pretty much everything they’re saying (one of the best advice I ever got on reading academese is to read the sources and ignore the actual text, the whole point of academese is reinforcing authority as a form of legitimacy for your argument). Ultimately, academese is difficult to understand because what is being talked about or argued has little to no utilitarian value, and is done more so for status…it’s the tradition of German Academia, which invented the whole PhD system or what is called the Research-Based University.

    Cornel’s just mad he’s been locked out of the black liberal elite of academia. He’s having a hard time dealing with the fact that all these young mentees he had are getting TV shows, book deals and jobs at magazines; while he’s guess speaking to white hipsters who dance to Jazz music like they’re trying to make it rain like an Indian.

    • NoPlaysOff

      “one of the best advice I ever got on reading academese it to read the sources and ignore the actual text, the whole point of academese is reinforcing authority as a form of legitimacy for your argument”

      This saves me from so many headaches! I start grad school in the fall so I have to get back into the habit of doing this very thing.

  • Ghettoprincess

    How am I supposed to keep up if you don’t translate into the language of the people? Ghettoprincess slow + ain’t nobody got time for that.

  • Fully agree. It’s the classic W.E.B. DuBois vs. Booker T. battle. West sits up in his chair of academic circles and writes a whole lot of “deep” stuff that ultimately produces NOTHING. Zero change. Zero impact to the black economy or advancement of our people. I’m really getting tired of these dudes who make all their money off of a platform, but do nothing to empower others. Ain’t built nothing, launched nothin’, and own very little besides a few vacation homes…

    • Well, don’t get it twisted though, they do build something, it’s just indirect.

      Academics/Intellectuals have much more influence on the artists, writers, entertainers, their mentees etc than they have on their people who they tend to look down upon. The idea of double consciousness is DuBois, and it was consistently referenced by black pseudo-intellectuals (revolutionaries, activists, politicians i.e. people who can make sense of complex academese and translate them to common speech, but don’t have the ability to develop philosophical systems of their own). DuBois and his 10 percent is also the foundation of the black fraternity and black sorority system.

      The problem is that when these kinds of people make errors in judgement or their ideas fall completely out-of-date, none of their followers are able to develop a new system of thinking that corrects their errors. Thus, why Booker T’s effect on black conservatives and his error in thinking that economic freedom can persist and last without political freedom is still a huge part of black conservatism, and why despite the few intelligent black conservatives, few have corrected the error or updated a system of ideas that could better benefit the black community.

    • Well, don’t get it twisted though, they do build something, it’s just indirect.

      Academics/Intellectuals have much more influence on the artists, writers, entertainers, their mentees etc than they have on their people who they tend to look down upon. The idea of double consciousness is DuBois, and it was consistently referenced by black pseudo-intellectuals (revolutionaries, activists, politicians i.e. people who can make sense of complex academese and translate them to common speech, but don’t have the ability to develop philosophical systems of their own). DuBois and his 10 percent is also the foundation of the black fraternity and black sorority system.

      The problem is that when these kinds of people make errors in judgement or their ideas fall completely out-of-date, none of their followers are able to develop a new system of thinking that corrects their errors. Thus, why Booker T’s effect on black conservatives and his error in thinking that economic freedom can persist and last without political freedom is still a huge part of black conservatism, and why despite the few intelligent black conservatives, few have corrected the error or updated a system of ideas that could better benefit the black community.

  • Cula J.

    Academics are the best. Who else can use 200 words, when 20 would suffice?

    • PunchDrunkLove

      May I toss in an “up vote” here? This is something that irks the heck outta me. Why can’t we just K.I.S.S. Folks have the audacity to think they’re doing something by overstating, over abundance, and just dang over done.

      My seveth grade teacher taught me less is more. Of course that was our graduating ceremony with 12/13 year olds in high heels and boobed out. Naturally I was flat chested, had on a simply a-line dress my aunt made and flat black patent sandals. She pulled me asided and said you look maaahvalous, never forget less is always more.

      • DBoySlim

        Cosign. I got into an argument with a super African sistah because I said MED uses too many words. I wasn’t telling her he should dumb it down but jeez. Too many words bro.

        • PunchDrunkLove

          Irks the heck outta me. I feel like those folks are show offs.

          • DBoySlim

            It’s just verbal gymnastics. Everyone wants to get the gold medal.

            • PunchDrunkLove

              Lol….soooo true. Folks wanna flex brilliance.

        • panamajackson

          This is often an argument that occurs. I’d never want anybody to dumb anything down, but at what point are you creating a deterrent to folks who might genuinely be interested in what you have to say.

          I’m glad so many are able to write and exercise their vocabulary, but what does that do for me? And I’m one of the educated ones.

          • I think a lot of it has to do with what you want your thoughts put to writing to produce in others. If you want respect, action, a laugh, hate etc, you write in such a way to achieve such.

    • miss t-lee

      CTFU.

    • NomadaNare

      It’s funny because as academics, they teach us specialized vocabulary for precision.

    • Beauty In Truth

      That is that point. Academics, “professional collegiates”, and intellectuals alike revel in this sort of banter. It is not so much as making a “public mockery” of one’s opponent as it is about engaging in visceral verbal exchanges for the hll of it. Sure, Mr. West has at times (okay frequently) made statements that have made him out to be somewhat hypocritical in his attacks; and even Dyson has been reckless. But that is what happens when you have two highly brilliant and gifted, culturally and intellectually open and strong minds!

      To be honest, these elites’ wives probably “lunch” on weekends and attend each others debutante balls and the like. This is the world of elite academia-it might even be the “black elite” way lol.

      I think of it akin to how men of all cultures throw shade and from time to time engage in fist fights when “men must settle business like men” (think of Diddly punching Drake in a nightclub to rightfully put his disrespectful and haughty young non-American azz in his place).

      Pretty much the same thing here. Just a verbal azz whopping. I doubt it’s really that personal. This is what black scholars and high status intellects do. It’s just kind of their world.

      • panamajackson

        You don’t think West took Dyson’s article personally? He’d have to be enlightened on a whole new level to just look at that as a volley in the intelligentsia gymnastics. he called him irrelevant. Thems fighting words.

  • menajeanmaehightower

    Some black people act like there can only be one. I have never rocked with West. Can’t stand arrogant black people. Something about an arrogant black person that rubs me completely the wrong way than any other race. It’s like we should be helping each other but you want me to kiss your behind too?

  • January Jones

    If we can close that gross, nasty way too wide gap, I would be so much better. Yuuuck!

  • I wish black academics did this when they beefed.

    https://youtu.be/z93IaKPY_Wc

    • miss t-lee

      I’d be a lot more entertained, I still ya.
      Now, I wanna make a video and yell at one of my enemies over some New Birth.

      • I wanna go after somebody with Bobby Bland’s “I Pity the Fool” thumping in the background.

        • miss t-lee

          Good choice.

    • LMAO I find this funny because a grown man is mad about something a fairly new mainstream rapper said about not wanting to be compared to him. New York ninjas always talking about how many killers they got and how they gone kill you.

    • panamajackson

      Man listen. Ghost was trying his best to let it all cook…but at the end of the day…he had to fire some darts.

      • I get it. Dude did talk a little slick so he had to come for him.

      • miss t-lee

        He really had been, for a whole hot minute.
        But for this…he finally had to go there.

    • TheOtherJerome

      He had Teddy on in the background to drive the point home lol

    • CrankUpThe_AC

      Teddy Pendergrass doe. That man serious lol

    • Epsilonicus

      I love that he threatened to light his beard on fire.

  • Damon Young

    Coates, like Outkast and Yeezus, is one of those topics we’re just gonna disagree on. I like his work specifically because it’s accessible and not very dense. He doesn’t write like someone who learned how to write at an Ivy. Or even someone writing for other academics. At least not to me. He writes like someone who taught himself how to write by reading a ton of shit and writing — and editing and rewriting — a lot. I also appreciate that he’s attempting to be honest about how he feels and why he feels that way, and seems to be willing to expose the work it takes for him to get there.

    As far as West goes, he’s a fading beauty queen. He’s aware his status as America’s Top Black Intellectual Model is dead and gone forever, and what we’re seeing right now is a stage of grief.

    Also, I think it’s ironic that so many people here are chiding academics for refusing to make their work more accessible. Because VSB aint exactly the most accessible place on the internet either. We’ve been very intentional about not changing things stylistically to capture a larger audience. Instead, we believe there are enough people out there who appreciate the type of content we produce. And if people who haven’t found us eventually do find us? Great! But we’re not changing to be more universal. Point? I think it’s a bit hypocritical to get on academics for not being accessible and writing for a certain audience, when the only real difference between them and VSB is that VSB happens to be accessible to and written to you.

    • Jasmin

      That is exactly what I thought would make Coates popular with most black crowds. He writes on a level that while fancy (his choice in sentence structure) is still very, very easy to understand and easy to relate to (he only writes about blackness, black problems etc.). Maybe people don’t realize this because of the platforms he writes from, i.e. The Atlantic and miss out on his great and necessary work.

      And West, he has been on a downward spiral since his days of dissing Melissa Harris (Before she was Perry)

    • NomadaNare

      This is my take. As someone who’s all up and through academia, it’s great to see people like Coates drop out of Howard and come up as an intellectual heavy weight without all of the highfalutin phrases and vocab. His reparations piece was brilliant. I’ll be reading his book pretty soon. We also agree on West….

      • panamajackson

        Despite what I feel…its highly likely I’ll be attempting to read his book.

    • panamajackson

      I feel like I often read or hear different stuff than others who take away the complete opposite of what I see, hear, or read. And Yeezus is still trash.

      • NomadaNare

        Yeezus is and will forever be trash.

        • Tristan

          Listen to it again in 3 years

          • Question

            No.

          • NomadaNare

            Why? So I can hear Kanye whine about how he was discriminated against by the fashion industry *again*?

            • Tristan

              Dont let context cloud you, its an album of frustration and pushing limits…which you already see Cole and Kendrick adopting

              • panamajackson

                Except their albums sounded better. And you know I dont love Cole’s album.

              • NomadaNare

                Kendrick’s black people album has oodles more substance than Kanye’s. In fact, I liked Kanye’s album a lot more when Saul Williams did it last decade.

              • Bobby Williams

                Pushing the limits is the key..its one thing to say you don’t like the sound but you have to acknowledge that his sound pushes the boundaries of the culture, from there artist now have a new range and space to make music… if you believe Kanye when he says hes about the culture then hes accomplished his goal…i dont know if there’s a Black Messiah or To Pimp a Butterfly without Yeezus

                • Epsilonicus

                  I agree with this assessment.

                • Crystal

                  Black Messiah would def exist without Yeezus. D’ was pushing boundaries when Kanye was still making beats in the basement.

                  • Bobby Williams

                    But he wasn’t making politically conscious albums

            • Beauty In Truth

              Black women have been “discriminated” against by the fashion industry since the early battles of Naomi and Tyra. Chiiiiillldddddd please.

              Kanye: “Yeah, But I’m Kanye though! It’s their privilege that I’m even sitting in the audience for this fking Givency spring line fashion show! I COULD’A RSVPed to the GUCCI show. But DID I? DID I?!”

              SMH…

          • miss t-lee

            It’ll still be hideous.
            I’ll only listen to the 2 songs I like on there, and ride out.

            • Tristan

              *thinks of an artist we dont both like to insult*

              • miss t-lee

                LMAO

                • Tristan

                  Ah, got one….f ck Foreign Exchange

                  • miss t-lee

                    Petty Wap.

                  • I came back just to downvote this

                    • Tristan

                      In that case, it was worth it lol

          • MissJillTracey

            thank you.

      • NomadaNare

        Yeezus is and will forever be trash.

      • Brandon Allen

        Yeezus ain’t trash. It’s just substandard for ye.

      • Erica Ifill

        Love that album. It pushes the boundaries of hip-hop into a space that was, until recently, unoccupied by hip-hop. It blew my mind stylistically and musically.

      • MissJillTracey

        Wait. What did you say???

  • Agatha Guilluame

    [redacted]

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