Dyson, West, and Obama

Lisa Schweitzer

When I first saw Dyson’s essay about Cornell West in The New Republic, I winced for a bunch of reasons, but I wanted to wait to see what black commentators would say before I formed my opinions. Lots of good writing, but none that I’m fully on board with, even though some of these are favorite, go-to writers of mine. This piece, from Malaika Jabali at For Harriet, is entitled The Audacity of Pettiness: Black Intellectuals Need to Find Something Better to Do. Hers is, essentially, a call to unity, arguing that these arguments are petty. I’ve always admired Jabali, but I think that framing misses a lot. Glen Ford over the Black Agenda report is more critical, arguing that Dyson is trying to curry favor with the Hillary camp by trying to make Obama’s enemies his enemies. I don’t think so, but Ford has some excellent…

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