Bruh! Who hurt you? Michael Eric Dyson wrote the longest read we’ve ever read for the New Republic. The subject matter that made him furiously and eloquently type out his feelvvvvvings? Cornel West. The Ghost of Cornel West begged the question: What happened to America’s most exciting Black scholar? And now that Dyson’s asking, we want to know!
Dyson’s essay took us first through his respect of West and the history of their relationship. We’re sure its about 12,000 words, but many of them are scathingly awkward. We’ve all scribbled our hatred for others in our journals enough to know that Dyson could have stopped 1500 words in. There were so many eye-crossing details that it literally took us two days to comb through it all.
What we mostly needed to know about West by way of Dyson was that Dyson scored Anita Baker tickets for West, President Obama cussed West out at the 2010 National Urban League convention and West got stalkerish with Obama’s telephone number. Yes, all of this is included in this biblical read and more. Check out the best reads!
The most emotional, entertaining and shadiest reads from the essay:
1. “West had a huge crush on the R&B singer Anita Baker, and I got us tickets to see her perform in New Jersey. After a brief backstage introduction to the singer I had finagled, West relived his high school track glory and sprinted up the street in glee.”
Here’s the start of Dyson’s pettiness. This had absolutely no point in his story, but it did help paint the picture of Dyson looking out for West’s trivial interests.
2. “West has repeatedly declared that he did 65 engagements for the presidential campaign in 2008, and was offended when the president didn’t provide tickets to the inauguration. (Obama later told me in the White House that West left several voice messages, including prayers, from a blocked number with no instructions of where to return the call, a routine with which I was all too familiar.”
Hilarious! Now Dyson has West looking like an Obama stalker without proper phone etiquette. Not to mention his humble brag of talking to President Obama in the White House. Way to shade Dyson.
3. “West is still a Man of Ideas, but those ideas today are a vain and unimaginative repackaging of his earlier hits. He hasn’t published without aid of a co-writer a single scholarly book since Keeping Faith, which appeared in 1993, the same year as Race Matters. West has repeatedly tried to recapture the glory of that slim classic by imitating the 1960s-era rhythm and blues singers he loves so much: Make another song that sounds just like the one that topped the charts.”
Not only is Dyson claiming that West can’t write his own books, but he’s saying that he’s been trying to reinvent the wheel of the book that drove his success, Race Matters. Shots all the way fired!
4. “Brother West was co-written with David Ritz, a writer best known for album liner notes and ghostwriting entertainers’ biographies—a sure sign of West’s dramatic plummet from his perch as a world-class intellectual. It’s one thing for Ray Charles to turn to Ritz; another thing entirely for a top-shelf scholar to concede that he can’t write for himself, or is too busy to do so.”
Just in case you didn’t see it the first time, Dyson said West can’t write.
5. “Is he a prophet? Is it West’s self-identification with the poor? Tupac Shakur had that on lock. Should we deem him a prophet?”
Dyson basically just said that Tupac was more prolific and able to tell stories of the poor than West. Not the biggest read, but saying a gangster rapper is better at something than a scholar is just…hilarious.
6. “He is in The Matrix sequels, doing something he’s become tragicomically good at—playing an unintentional caricature of his identity.”
Wait. Did he just call him a cartoon? A clown? His very own minstrel show?
7. “One need not be Martin Luther King to qualify as a prophet. But when you claim to be a prophet, you are expected, as the classic gospel song goes, to live the life you sing about in your song.”
Dyson just said that West is not about that prophetic life! He’s borrowing from that read that Cookie gave Hakeem: “Quit rapping like you’re from the streets. You’re not about that life.”
8. “As a freelancing, itinerant, nonordained, self-anointed prophet, West has only to answer to himself.”
Well damn! While we were still picking up shell casings, Dyson was still shooting. This time, he called West a worried-up, W9 gathering freelance prophet. We’re unable.
9. “West gets the benefits of the association with prophecy while bearing none of its burdens. By refusing to take up the cross he urges prophetic Christians to carry, West is preaching courage while seeking to avoid reprisal or suffering. Playing it safe means that West doesn’t qualify for the prophetic role he espouses.”
Dyson said, you ain’t got the pedigree West! West has been heavily revered in his preaching, but Dyson said he doesn’t deserve the praise because he’s not even qualified.
10. “In truth, West is a scold, a curmudgeonly and bitter critic who has grown long in the tooth but sharp in the tongue when lashing one-time colleagues and allies.”
Dyson just called West a bitter old man. And that jab about the long tooth? *faints* It’s hilarious because West has a very noticeable gap and well…unintentional mouth puns give life.
11. “It would be fitting for West to downsize his ambition and accept his role as a public intellectual, social gadfly, or merely a paid pest.”
Paid. Pest. Dyson is out for blood, claiming West’s checks only roll in because he’s annoying.
12. “His greatest opponent isn’t Obama, Sharpton, Harris-Perry, or me. It is the ghost of a self that spits at him from his own mirror.”
And in closing, Dyson said that West is basically spitting at himself because he’s so awful that he can’t even stand himself.
After that, Dyson dropped the mic, or at least cracked his hard-working knuckles after typing up his own Bible against hatred for West. Who knows what the purpose of this essay was, other than for Dyson to stop spending his hard-earned money in therapy trying to heal from his relationship with West? It was simply a drag and a drag that was jam packed with scholarly brilliance, complicated insults, but some damn good shade.
If you find yourself with 12 free hours, feel free to read the entire shade fest, but since we’ve already done the work for you–take the above quotes, share with your friends and impress them (because they’ll think you read the whole thing). You’re welcome. We’re off to find some sun after all that shade!