Home Ralph Northam Video: Cornel West on Ralph Northam, Racism and Redemption

Video: Cornel West on Ralph Northam, Racism and Redemption


See below for a fascinating discussion between Cornel West and Anderson Cooper on Gov. Ralph Northam, racism, redemption, etc. I’ve added a transcription and bolding for emphasis of parts that jumped out at me. I think there’s a lot of wisdom in what Cornel West has to say. Also note, I hear that this segment has a bunch of Democrats in Richmond talking about it, which is a large part of the reason why I checked it out in the first place.

Anderson Cooper: “I hear what you’re saying we’ve talked about this before about expanding the definition of white supremacy that it’s easy to just focus on a photo and be blind to other inequalities. In terms of….I mean…this is obviously as you say this is one man. There are plenty of people who have done stupid things, inappropriate things, racist things, horrible things in their past – in high school, in college…in medical school. What is the process for overcoming that? What is the process for not having your life be damned by something you did, some racist act that that you did or that you said? How do you atone for that?

Cornel West: One is the first thing you do you is cast it as a moral and ethical dialogue. It’s not a matter of just offending black people because white supremacy is trashing us. It’s barbaric, it’s monstrous, but it’s a moral issue. White, brown, a whole host of people ought to be just as morally outraged as black people. The same is true of black people when other people are trashed in this regard. Jews in France, Palestinians under occupation, Tibet…It’s a moral/spiritual issue. We dumb down the whole discussion if it’s just a matter of liberal self-righteousness in the name of black people being offended trashing this white brother.

White supremacy must be hated, white supremacy must be trashed, but the question is how do we attempt to engage in efforts collectively and individually together. None of us escape white supremacy, male supremacy, homophobia, transphobia, anti-Semitism, anti-Arab, anti-Palestinian, anti-Muslim – all of these vicious evils are shot through us. And if we can’t ascend to the moral and spiritual level, this is the legacy of Martin King; this is the legacy of John Coltrane; this is the legacy of Nina Simone. How do we keep that legacy alive?

And thank God that we have some kind of context in which we can go beyond just this ugly name-calling and finger-pointing. Because all of us in the end are fallen. All of us in the end are in some sense sinners. And if you’re gonna do away with all the racist elements and sensibilities, you’re not gonna have too many people in Congress, you’re not gonna have too many people on Wall Street, and not gonna have too many people on television. Because all of us are shaped to some degree.

Now there’s a gradation – the Klu Klux Klan, gangster capital G yes. But there’s some other gangsters small g that’s working in this regard. And the question is how do we remain in contact with the humanity of each and every one of us so we can accent our best. I believe brother Ralph has potential to be a great anti-racist activist just like LBJ. He doesn’t have to be in office to do that, because I don’t think he can govern. But I’m concerned about him as a human being as well, not just as a governor. He’s a human being he’s made…in the image of God like everybody else.

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