Chris Hedges Converses With Dr. Cornel West: The Betrayal by the Black Elite

"For the most part, that black middle class, driven by ruthless ambition, became well adjusted to injustice..."

"... Well, elements of them do, and of course they not only keep a distance, but they can contribute to the callousness and the indifference toward the plight and predicament of the black poor and poor people across the board. So what happens? Well, your warriors end up incarcerated or killed. You get your professionals who surface at the top. They tend to be nerdy, smart, self-promoting, not taking any risks, very little courage, highly conformist, and usually, when it comes to battle, complacent. On the other hand, you say, oh, we’ve got memories of the social movements. And, of course, when we talk about the civil rights movement, there is no civil rights victories without the rebellions of Watts, without the–Newark, Detroit. We can go on and on and on. Plainfield had the rebellion right after Newark and so forth. But, of course, oftentimes these these precious poor people, they were not the beneficiaries of it. Their bodies, their sacrifice did generate the conditions under which this new black middle class could move into place. But what did it do? For the most part, that black middle class, driven by ruthless ambition, became well adjusted to injustice and well adapted to indifference. And so they may point to a Martin Luther King Jr. every January, but Martin Luther King Jr. of 1965 or 1966 or 1968 has no place in how they go about living their lives, engaging in their politics. And, of course, black folk for the most part became just extensions of a milquetoast neoliberal Democratic Party. But Adolph Reed and a host of others told this story many, many years ago. It’s becoming much more crystallized. And we have to be willing to tell the truth no matter how unpopular it is. " ~ Dr. Cornel West

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