The Chocolate Side of life


The first time I heard Cornel West speak was at the University of Winnipeg in 2015. He pulled no punches in describing the American system of criminal justice “racist.” “I got too much white supremacy inside of me. I got too much homophobia inside of me.”

West pointed out that in America 65% of convictions are against blacks who make up about 20% of the population. Is that not very similar to the situation of indigenous people in this  country. How is it possible to deny that such a criminal justice system is racist? “If you don’t speak out against such injustice the rocks are going to cry out,” West said. He saw that speaking out against such injustice is part of the prophetic system of which he is a part.

When West at the university, he said that every 28 hours for the last 7 years (since 2015) a black or brown man, woman, or child in America was murdered by the police or private security guard services. That is based on a devaluing of black life in America. He pointed out that is true even though we have a black President in the United States with a black Attorney General. During that time not one policeman was sent to jail. Not one. Is that justice?

He said he made that statement because he wants to be an honest man. Of course, Canada, and in particular Manitoba, is much worse than that with its indigenous population.

When I heard him speak in Arizona a few years later, West said, “I have been subtly shaped by the chocolate side of life.” That point of view coloured his speaking out in the prophetic tradition which he gleaned from the Old Testament.  All that was part of his religious quest.

Speaking out against injustice can be a vital part of a religious quest; keeping silent not so much.

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