Dr. Cornel West presents Critical Thinking and the Cultivation of Your True Self

Submitted by Kate Goldyn on

On April 29, 2021, Dr. Cornel West presented the talk "Critical Thinking and the Cultivation of Your True Self," held in a virtual forum, and presented by the Northwest African American Museum and sponsored by the UW Department of Philosophy, UW Race & Equity Initiative, and UW Department of Communication.

Nationally-renowned public intellectual and award-winning author Dr. Cornel West, professor of Harvard University, joined Dr. Ralina Joseph, NAAM’s scholar-in-residence, for a riveting discussion as part of the "It Takes a Village" series.

Dr. Cornel West is a prominent and provocative democratic intellectual. He is Professor of the Practice of Public Philosophy at Harvard University and holds the title of Professor Emeritus at Princeton University. He has also taught at Union Theological Seminary, Yale, and the University of Paris. Cornel West graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard in three years and obtained his M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy at Princeton. 

Professor West has written 20 books and edited 13. Best known for his classics Race Matters and Democracy Matters, and his memoir, Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud, his most recent book Black Prophetic Fire has also received critical acclaim. Dr. West is a frequent guest on the Bill Maher Show, Colbert Report, CNN, C-Span, and Democracy Now.

West made his film debut in The Matrix – and was the commentator (with Ken Wilbur) on the official trilogy released in 2004. He also has appeared in over 25 documentaries and films including Examined Life, Call & Response, Sidewalk, and Stand.

He has made three spoken word albums including Never Forget, collaborating with Prince, Jill Scott, Andre 3000, Talib Kweli, KRS-One, and Gerald Levert. His spoken word interludes were featured on Terence Blanchard’s Choices (which won the Grand Prix in France for the Best Jazz Album of the year of 2009), The Cornel West Theory’s Second Rome, Raheem DeVaughn’s Grammy-nominated Love & War: MasterPeace, and most recently on Bootsy Collins’ The Funk Capital of the World. In short, Cornel West has a passion to communicate to a vast variety of publics in order to keep alive the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. – a legacy of telling the truth and bearing witness to love and justice.

Dr. Ralina L. Joseph, UW Professor of Communication and adjunct Professor of American Ethnic Studies and Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies, received her Ph.D. in Ethnic Studies from the University of California, San Diego and B.A. in American Civilization from Brown University. Dr. Joseph is the founding and acting director of the University of Washington’s Center for Communication, Difference, and Equity. She is a scholar, teacher, and facilitator of race and communication.

Her first book, Transcending Blackness: From the New Millennium Mulatta to the Exceptional Multiracial (Duke University Press, 2012), critiques anti-Black racism in mixed-race African American representations in the decade leading up to Obama’s 2008 election. Her second book, Postracial Resistance: Black Women, Media Culture, and the Uses of Strategic Ambiguity (NYU Press, 2018), is the 2019 winner of the International Communication Association’s Outstanding Book of the Year Award. Postracial Resistance examines how African American women negotiate the minefield of “postracial racism.” Listen to an interview about the book here.

Dr. Joseph is currently writing two new books. The first, Generation Mixed Goes to School: Fostering Mixed-Race Spaces in School Communities, (with Dr. Allison Briscoe-Smith, under contract with Teachers College Press), centers the perspectives of multiracial children in the creation of anti-racist schools. The second, Interrupting Privilege: The Promises and Perils of Talking Race and Fighting Racism, provides both the theoretical framework and a nuts-and-bolts guidebook to fighting back against everyday, interpersonal inequalities. You can read about Interrupting Privilege here.