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Cornel West and the Truths He Spoke about Ta-Nehisi Coates and Neoliberal Paternalism

There is nothing the status quo loves more and rewards as much as those who wear the guise of social justice warriors only to further injustice by preaching divisiveness. There is a cottage industry of supposed truth tellers who are really dissemblers; they pretend to be speaking for us and against the establishment–all along they are getting paid by the same system they act to be against. The system of corporate greed and capital larceny is insidious as much as it is brilliant; all about us are demagogues who are on the payroll of the filthy rich who get paid to pit us against one another. They are endorsed by the status quo as agents of change, but ask yourself, do you really think corporate media will really help further the cause of revolutionary thinkers?

This is what Cornel West was getting at when he criticized Ta-Nehisi Coates for being a neoliberal lackey. Coates has been adored by the “liberal” elites for a long time and raised up as the exemplar of courage and activism. His brand of courage though is really a craven and myopic presentation of the truth that hobbles the “black” masses into hopelessness and resentment. He has made a nice fortune by using “black” militancy as a business model, speaking against “white supremacy” and painting the ills of the “African-American” community through the lens of ideology. Coates is a cheaper man’s Malcolm X before he went to Mecca and realized the true source of global injustice. Ta-Nehisi is a one trick pony who lashes into racism by employing rhetoric that is meant to stir emotions and arouse anger but never goes outside of his narrow lanes to discuss the wider context of socio-economic injustice.

This is why neoliberals love Coates and why he has been embraced by corporate media as the voice of the “black” masses. The elites always carve out lanes for those who play into the hands of factionalism. The same way that Fox News elevates Tea Party firebrands is the reason MSNBC and the left leaning publications latch on to those on the other side who antagonize their adherents. This axiom is a thousand times more evident when it comes to the “black” intelligentsia. If you are a “black” writer or thinker, the surest way to find success and be accepted by corporate media is to stay in the lanes of either conservatism or liberalism. Be a good house negro of the establishment and there is fame and fortunes to be had by those who use the suffering of their people as stepping stones to success.

I mentioned Malcolm X for a reason. In the beginning, Malcolm was being adored by the establishment because he was being used as a tool to further factionalism. Liberal institutions from universities to think tanks rushed to Malcolm and embraced him as their champion as long as he kept talking about “white devils” and was willing to be a voice of friction and disunity. To this day, the image of Malcolm X that is presented by educators, opinion leaders and media personalities is one of agitation and antagonism. They rarely speak about the man Malcolm X became as he changed his name to el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz and decided to be about universal justice. The elites gave him flowers when he spoke into the divides, the same system gave him a funeral when he pivoted and made the courageous choice to be about unity and inclusiveness.

What Coates and his ilk on both sides of the political aisles have done is take Malcolm X’s “pre-Mecca” blueprint and monetize it in order to enrich themselves while stepping on the backs of the people they pretend to be speaking for. This is what Cornel West was alluding to when he said that Coates fetishizes white supremacy. West went on to detail the neoliberal paternalism that is at the root of Coates’ business model, noting:

“His analysis/vision of our world is too narrow and dangerously misleading, omitting the centrality of Wall Street power, US military policies, and the complex dynamics of class, gender, and sexuality in black America…any analysis or vision of our world that omits the centrality of Wall Street power, US military policies, and the complex dynamics of class, gender, and sexuality in black America is too narrow and dangerously misleading. So it is with Ta-Nehisi Coates’ worldview.”

West nails it directly on the head when he calls out the one sided and disingenuous analysis that is at the heart of Coates’ ideology. Militancy that speaks half-truths is really cowardice and servility. People like Coates have made a career of advocacy without being advocates for justice. They mostly use iniquities as a shtick as they go injustice hunting in order to rant against oppression while making money from the very people they duplicitously curse with their forked tongues. The reason why Coates never mentions corporatism and the neoliberal warmongers who are at the root of “black suffering” is because he is getting paid by them.

The same way that Coates leverages the suffering of “black” people to sell his books and garner headlines is how the “first black president” was elected and how Republican tokens are pushed by conservative outlets. As long as these black leaders bite their tongues and speak out against the inequities of our governance through the prism of identity politics and dare not question corporatism, then they are given leeway to speak against the establishment. What they’re really doing is diverting our attention from the true sources of oppression and inequality. Coates congratulated Obama as some virtuous prince and praised him as a champion of black people. Meanwhile, Barack’s economic policies kneecapped the “black” middle-class along with the bottom 90% of Americans–his policies exploded the gap between the have and the have nots. This is why tokenism is so lethal, we have been trained to accept the elevation of a few as an advancement for the whole as the masses keep getting plucked one by one into the abyss of economic insolvency and governmental dependency. Click To Tweet

The truth is that our suffering is interconnected to the suffering of the teaming masses throughout the world. Malcolm X and Martin Luther King both realized at the latter stages of their lives that economic inequalities were at the root of oppression. This is why they decided to speak up for universal justice instead of presenting injustice through race colored blinders. This is the same reason why they were greeted with bullets; nothing is as dangerous to the status quo as those who have a mass following and decide to lay down and be a bridge for all people and try to unite the masses. As the system kills of prophets of unity, it profits those who feed into the divisiveness. This is why Coates is embraced by the New York Times while those who preach of solidarity are left out of the discussion and neglected by the establishment.

I think sometimes we make things that are simple complex and exotic. These labels we keep being conditioned to accept really prevent us from seeing the plain truth. Neoliberals, neocons, corporatism, leftist, fascist, as we glom on to the labels, we overlook the common theme that all these factions have in common. From left to right, black to white and all in between, these people are all establishment whores who willingly sell their souls to corporatism and the oligarchy for the sake of fame, fortune and access to power. There is a simple way to separate the frauds apart from the ones who are willing to sacrifice to bring about change. If the establishment is giving them money and access to corporate media and elevating their profile, you can discount 99.9999% of them as frauds who are working for the very injustices they are speaking against.

You can apply the truism I just laid out about “African-American” thinkers in the previous sentence and apply it to anyone who is embraced by the establishment. The same way “black” leaders are foisted upon the masses to keep us riled up and distracted, each demographic has their own carnival barker and empty suit who sells them dreams and breeds antipathy in their hearts as they shatter us into islands of separable grievances. Corporate media is really nothing more than a malicious ploy to pit us against each other in order to keep us perpetually distracted and prevent us from uniting to defend our common interests. There is an unholy trinity between media, politics and entertainment, all of them are serving their corporate masters while serving us to the hyenas on Wall Street. Sadly, we let tribalism and identity politics get in the way of seeing how we are being hoodwinked and walloped as a people.

Let me end on this most imperative message, the totality of the “black” experience is not one of victims and grievances. While we should not omit the narrative of slavery and how untold millions of people were stolen from their homeland to be turned to chattel in new lands, neither should we only present only narratives of being defeated and conquered. The history of “black folks” is one that goes back thousands of years, “African-Americans” are a lot more than ancestors of subdued servants.  By presenting the totality of the “black” experience through the lens of enslavement and suffering, they are segregating “black” people from a broader history that is profound and amazing. This is the reason why I keep using quote marks on these words “black” and “African-American”, watch the video below to see how these intellectuals are putting us in mental chains as they make it seem like they are speaking for us.

Presenting our history through the prism of a very narrow lens is feeding our souls inadequacy and breeding a sense of inferiority in the souls of our children. This is an issue I discussed on the Tim Black Show a couple of weeks ago (listen to the interview on the second video below). There is a reason why the “black” intelligentsia sow insufficiency into our spirits, as long as we see ourselves a victims, we will always be dependent on “saviors”. This is why neoliberal paternalism is dangerous and Malcolm X warned that these black intellectuals were no friends of the suffering masses. It’s poetically fitting though when you think of it; as Coates pays lip service to equality and fairness, he is getting paid to coat the sources of injustice. #CoatesInjustice

“Truth is on the side of the oppressed.” ~ Malcolm X

If you want to know why I kept using quote marks around the words “black” and “African-American”, watch the Ghion Cast below and you will hear a discussion that is rarely heard in corporate media and the lackeys who refuse to speak truth for justice. 

Check out the interview I did on Tim Black’s show as we discussed Barack Obama (the first Bank president) and a whole host of issues ranging from social justice to reclaiming media from Corporate Estate. 

Check out the Ghion Cast below where I discuss how the system insidiously divides us so that we can conquer ourselves. Tribalism is at the core of our struggle, when we see each other as one, we will no longer have to suffer.

Check out the latest segment from Tim Black as he discussed the Cornel West and Ta-Nehisi Coates issue through the lens unfiltered by corporate media duplicity. This is why supporting independent media is a MUST, truth can’t be attained when corporations are paid to lie to the public.

Teodrose Fikre
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Teodrose Fikre

Founder at Ghion Journal
Teodrose Fikre is the editor and founder of the Ghion Journal. A published author and prolific writer, a once defense consultant was profoundly changed by a two year journey of hardship and struggle. Going from a life of upper-middle class privilege to a time spent with the huddled masses taught Teodrose a valuable lesson in the essence of togetherness and the need to speak against injustice.

Originally from Ethiopia with roots to Atse Tewodros II, Teodrose is a former community organizer whose writing was incorporated into Barack Obama's South Carolina primary victory speech in 2008. He pivoted away from politics and decided to stand for collective justice after experiencing the reality of the forgotten masses. His writing defies conventional wisdom and challenges readers to look outside the constraints of labels and ideologies that serve to splinter the people. Teodrose uses his pen to give a voice to the voiceless and to speak truth to power.
Teodrose Fikre
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