Dr. Cornel West conducts first lecture at VPAC

Steffanie Tate

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Dr. Cornel West challenged CSUN students to think critically. “America will you have the courage?,” said West. Armando Ruiz/ Senior Photographer

Dr. Cornel West lectured at VPAC and discussed Black History Month, philosophy, politics, love, life and music.

“Black History month is not just for black people…the universal weep,” West said.“We (African-Americans) were taught to hate ourselves…we don’t like to talk about that, but I talk about that,”

He discussed a double standard in society.

West said 70 percent of the convictions are on the “chocolate side of town.”

He added the greatest problem facing society today is ignorance.

“Not knowing the difference from foes and enemies. There’s a lot of ignorance out there,” West said.

He said Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was discussing the topic of ignorance when he was assassinated.

“Sooner or later, reality hits, and it’s usually a catastrophe,” West said. “Hatred is nothing but a cowards revenge.”

West illustrated his example with Emmitt Till, a 14-year-old boy who was beaten, shot and thrown in a river by white supremacists in 1955.

He referenced the statement made by Till’s mother.

“I don’t have a minute to hate, I will pursue justice,” West quoted and applauded her for her strength.

West discussed his motivation and vocation.

“Teaching is a calling for me, not just a career,” West said.

He said when he ministers in jails, he has noticed inmates don’t look him in the eyes.

“The young men today in prison are so scarred on the inside, they don’t look their elders in the eyes,” West said.

When he was growing up, he was taught to look at his elders in the eyes, he said.

“The eyes are the windows to the soul,” West added.

West also emphasized the importance of education.

“(You) can’t talk about education, unless you want to get down to the funk of life,” West said.

Priorities are becoming warped and the higher education in the country is demolishing, and therefore is a threat to national security, West said.

He discussed philosophy, love and what it means to be human.

“Socrates argued but never shed a tear. Was he married?” West said. “Someone who has never cried has never loved. You must examine who you are and ask yourself ‘What does it mean to be human.’

“When you go to your mother’s funeral and you don’t shed a tear, that is not a compliment,” he added.

“Tenderness is what love looks like in private,” West said.

Many young people don’t know how to be intimate and they rush relationships because of impatience and the need for stimulation now, West said. He joked that it would take him three lifetimes to get to a crack house, because his parents had so much love for him.

West also talked about the state of commercial music.

“The spirit will not descend without song and movement,” West said. “Young people never get to see their best music surface.”

“The industry is controlled by money, and what is actually heard on the radio is a narrow view of young societies’ musicality,” West said.

He recognized some of today’s musical talents like Talib Kweli, KRS-One, Mos Def, and Erica Badu.

“It’s difficult to find genuine truth-telling in the media,” West added.

West concluded with an emphasis that life and love are gifts.

“We are who we are because someone loved us. (Life) it’s a gift, I didn’t ask to be born, I just showed up,” West said.

Audience members like Angelica Acosta and Tanya Garcia were pleased with West’s lecture.

“He has good points.  I liked how he mentioned how music now doesn’t represent our culture,” said Acosta, 21, child development major.

“I’m really glad I came, added Garcia, 21 psychology major.  “He is a great speaker and he’s very inspiring,”