Cornel West on Social Justice, Political Discourse and Trump
Steve Adubato goes on-location to the 2019 NJEA Convention to sit down with Cornel West, Professor, Philosopher, Author & Activist, for a special half-hour conversation. They discuss social justice in education, the importance of civil political discourse, the leadership styles of President Obama and President Trump and the election outlook for 2020.
"I'm Steve Adubato. We're here in Atlantic City at the NJEA Convention. 166 years they've been at it. And what's interesting about this convention is that there are educators, educational administrators, others. There are folks who have come here, also from outside of New Jersey to deliver powerful messages. And the gentleman you're about to see on camera is just such a person. He is Doctor Cornel West. It says here, "professor, philosopher, author, activist," he is so much more. 20 books later. Nationally and internationally known. You honor us, Doctor West, by joining us. No, brother. I'm the one who's blessed to be here with you. And I want to salute you for being such a force for good. That's very kind of you. You put a smile on your father's and your mama's face still, brother. Thank you. Thank you. You're doing wonderful, wonderful work though, man. Doctor, let me ask you this. Let's get right into this. One of the things that's always struck me about you is the way you talk about race and race relations in this country, a, is important. And b, makes a lot of people uncomfortable. Hmm. Hmm. Being uncomfortable important sometimes? Oh absolutely. Absolutely. I mean education is all about making sure that we are unsettled and unnerved enough to critically examine ourselves To scrutinize ourselves. Interrogate ourselves. We can't grow without that kind of criticism. And that's a certain kind of learning how to die, you know, when you give up a certain assumption or a prejudice is a form of death. From that comes rebirth. From that comes some maturity. From that comes growth. And... but you don't want to unsettle people in such a way to just shut them down. You're trying to make contact with our common humanity. How do we know where the...? Okay. Let me play devil's advocate if I could. It's a challenge. Yes. Yes. So... and by the way, Doctor West gave a very powerful keynote address. It was hard to even get him over here, because everybody wanted to be close to him, shake his hand, hug him, take a picture with him, because you made a difference here. Why does a convention like this focusing... you have educators, and others in the education world, from all over the state... but focusing on social justice is a big theme here. What... in your mind, what does that have to do with the education of our children? Well, it's at the very center of it. You know, the greatest American philosopher was named John Dewey. He wrote a book called Democracy and Education in 1916. He said you can't have a democracy, you..."