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Bakari Kitwana Asks: Cornel West

What does the economic downturn mean for already struggling Black families?

In part two of our Bakari Kitwana’s discussion with Cornel West, Dr. West delves into the significance of the racist incidents and responses that reared their head on the campaign trial this year-from the McCain supporter’s taunts to John Lewis’ criticism. West points to the new danger posed by citizens willing to “sow the seeds” of racism of the George Wallace variety. The conversation then turned to the current financial crisis, including the budget challenges facing states and cities, and how Blacks will fare as the country seems headed to a second Great Depression. You know the saying, when white America catches a cold, Black America catches the flu? Here West carefully critiques what he sees as the 40-year economic depression that Blacks have suffered under for the last four decades in the US. For him, the economic downturn will only make matters worse-“depression on top of depression.” Once again, he says, Black churches, mosques and community centers will have to step it up, even as a Barack Obama presidency offers hope.

Cornel West is University Professor at Princeton University in the Center for African American Studies. The author of the 1993 groundbreaking Race Matters, his new book is entitled Hope on a Tightrope: Words and Wisdom (Hay House, 2008).