Cornel West Speaks at Allen Temple Baptist Church in Oakland: Tells Community to “Keep Fighting” on Race Issues

Dr. Cornel West speaks at Allen Temple Baptist Church in Oakland, Calif., on Thursday, April 9, 2015. (Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group)
Dr. Cornel West speaks at Allen Temple Baptist Church in Oakland, Calif., on Thursday, April 9, 2015. (Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group)

Cornel West isn’t sure if we’ve reached a boiling point for race relations in America.

He thought that Trayvon Martin’s killing in Florida might be the moment. Or Michael Brown in Missouri. Or Eric Garner in New York.

Visiting Oakland on Thursday on the heels of yet another unarmed black man shot dead by a police officer — this time in South Carolina, and caught on video — West shook his head and recalled Oscar Grant, whose death at the hands of a BART police officer in 2009 was also filmed, leading to fierce protests in Oakland and across the Bay Area.

He wondered when will America learn that black lives matter.

“The only thing we can do is keep fighting,” West said before his speech at Allen Temple Baptist Church. “I don’t know when the catalytic moment will be.”

West, the outspoken professor, activist and author of popular books “Race Matters” and “Democracy Matters,” was invited to Oakland by Samuel Merritt University to speak about how structural violence and health disparities affect underserved, largely minority communities.

A new report from Alameda County’s public health department, for instance, shows that residents in wealthier parts of Oakland are expected to live 10 years longer than low-income residents of East and West Oakland.

Violence, health care, lack of education — it’s all related, West said. The combination of social despair, available guns, and a thriving underground drug economy has a huge effect on communities, no matter if you’re in Oakland or Australia, he added.

It will take a “massive amount of resources” to combat the problem, West said. But America is controlled by a white society that is entrenched in power, he said, without any incentive to change the system.

Some people believed having a black president and attorney general solved the country’s systemic problems overnight, he said. But it’s not that easy.

“White supremacy is alive,” he said.

But there’s also a growing movement dedicated to fighting for equity in America, West said, and it’s not just black men leading the charge. Black women are taking on leadership roles, he said.

And just like in the ’60s, people of many colors and backgrounds are joining the fight, he said.

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SOURCE: Mike Blasky
Bay Area News Group

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