Cornel West: ‘Can’t Just Shed Tears for Those on the Vanilla Side of Town’

by Eliana Johnson

On the radio show he co-hosts with Tavis Smiley, Princeton University professor Cornel West lamented the media’s inattention to gun violence when its victims are black. “We can’t just shed tears for those on the vanilla side of town,” West said. “They are precious, but they are no less or more precious than our poor brothers and sisters on Indian reservations (who are killing each other) or be they black or brown or what have you.” 

West said that, among the media and intelligentsia, there’s “not a peep, not a mumbling word when black folk get shot.” By contrast, the Newtown shooting, in which the 26 victims were all white, has elicited “a major conversation.”

“That’s wonderful,” said West. “Each life is precious but it just upsets me when we’re so deferential”