Al Sharpton vs. Cornel West: MSNBC’s Black Leadership “Black Agenda” Negro Moment

The above photo of what appears to be a contentious Al Sharpton and Dr. Cornel West was taken by Rachel Noerdlinger backstage at yesterday’s MSNBC forum ‘Stronger America: A Black Agenda‘. Prior to the photo being taken, both men were involved in a pretty heated debate aired live on national television. The discussion questioned the need for the advancement of a “Black Agenda” in these economically perilous times. The exchange got so heated that I’m sure a few choice words were used backstage. As a matter of fact, in my mind I’m convinced that at some point backstage one of ’em said, “nigga please!”

Check it out:

Now the irony of this discussion of a “Black Agenda”, is that recent polling suggests that president Obama’s approval rating among people of color, is currently at an all time low at 85%. Which when you think of it, sorta makes sense why the White House has pretty much handpicked Rev. Al Sharpton to be it’s official spokesman to the Negroes on the street. As I pointed out last week (read here), Obama’s speech at Sharpton’s National Action Network gala last week after launching his 2012 campaign was no coincidence. Like it or not, Rev. Al Sharpton is the head Negro in charge of all Negroes. That’s right, he’s the Black St. Peter with a perm standing at the pearly gates of power.

Now I’m sure that much like what happened on Twitter yesterday as I live-tweeted this event. Some of you members of what Aaron McGruder cleverly called The Hateocracy will rush to the defense of president Obama, and side with Sharpton. I on the other hand, though I’ve always defended Sharpton’s relevance in the face of some of you Negro critics, I will say that he’s absolutely wrong on this one at this time. Especially when pending budget cuts are handed down to further crush poor working folks. But I can be wrong. Maybe one of you can justify chopping off the legs of the poor after handing over tax cuts to the wealthy in three months time. Tax cuts, which mark my words, will become permanent while poor working folks drown in this economic cesspool.

Even more disappointing was his attempt to frame the argument to make the work of the activist on the ground more important than the work of Black academia and public intellectuals such as Dr. Cornel West. The way I see it, you can’t have one without the other if your true intent is to bring about change for any collective group of people; and, everyone has a significant role to play. But I suppose now that Sharpton is sitting at the table, he has forgotten that. Maybe in his mind shitting on West is a calculated political investment. After all, Sharpton has had political aspirations in the past; but, I don’t remember him ever being elected for anything; nope, not even for dog catcher. However, he did well with the slave-catcher move yesterday; according to some of you, he won.

But I wonder if a 15.5% and rising Black unemployment rate would be a concern if Black folks were still working for free and picking cotton? Oh well, I suppose some of us are content with being slaves by cheer-leading for people with a shared hue, who champion self-interest above the interest of the people they supposedly lead. While we revere Martin Luther King Jr. and celebrate his life and work. It would have been very interesting to see some of you tear him down today for speaking truth to power as poor people drown, just because the president of the United States happens to be a Black man.

Some of you might be of the opinion that Blacks are used to having very little and next to nothing so this is no big deal – same shit different toilet. But could you imagine attempting to pass historic landmark Civil Rights legislature in the 60s with that attitude? I’m sorry, it’s time for us to stop making excuses for people in power and mobilize a plan of action to better our condition and economic reality. I mean, when government is talking of cutting Pell Grants for low-income students, something’s gotta give. And if you don’e believe me, watch this to understand how real this is; hopefully you’ll understand.