AMY GOODMAN: I just remember when you were told, talking about the difference between white men and black men’s survival.
CORNEL WEST: Yeah. That hit me so hard. He looked me in my face.
AMY GOODMAN: This was the doctor?
CORNEL WEST: This is the doctor. And he said, “If you were a white man, you have a chance, an 80 percent chance of living. A black man, a 20 percent.” I said, “Race matters at that level? You’ve got to be kidding.” Prostate cancer, yes. I said, “What about the research?” They don’t have too many research papers on this issue. And I said, “Well, wait a minute. Black brothers dying like this, and they don’t have major scholarly research to find out why the differential?” You know, this is a major problem, and this is part of the issue of healthcare again.
I mean, I’m dealing with the depression of this rejection of the public option. What a joke! You’re going to get a bill through with no substance and poor people left dangling, working people left dangling, and a bonanza for the companies again? If that doesn’t reinforce the levels of cynicism, when you and I give our lives trying to call into question to get people to become active, if that doesn’t reinforce cynicism, what does? When do elites finally have to give substantive concessions to poor people and working people? The history of the human drama, right? Trying to preserve the dignity and decency of poor and working people.
And you say to yourself, well, you know, we’ve got to keep—keep at it. I’m deeply inspired by your example also, Sister Amy, I tell you that. You landed a long time. And this book very much is an attempt to touch one life. I would not have labored in vain in this book, if I can touch one life to get somebody to say, “I want to deal with the funk in my life. I want to generate a capacity to love in such a way that I promote justice, and I’m willing to pay a cost for truth, not just become tied into the powers that be, and duplicitous the forms of injustice.”