on a Tightrope: Words and Wisdom
by Cornel West
Hardcover: 246 Pages, illustrated
(Includes a free CD)
Book Review by Kam Williams
As the United States stands poised to make history with the impending presidential election, it takes considerable courage for a very public black intellectual like Dr. Cornel West to refrain from jumping headlong onto the Obama bandwagon. But Professor West has opted to remain true to his core values by sharing the sage insight that an African-American occupying the White House will not automatically mean the struggle for equality is over or that we have realized Dr. King’s dream of a post-racial society where one is judged not by the color of his skin but by the content of his character.
In Hope on a Tightrope , an eloquent collection of both audio (on CD) and printed meditations, West indirectly challenges Obama to prove that the ’Audacity of Hope’ is more than a campaign slogan, asking, ’What price are you willing to pay?’ And the author goes on to warn that ’American politics has a way of grinding the best out of a person’ and that ’it reduces their prudent judgment into opportunistic behavior.’
Undoubtedly, there will be many folks who feel it is unfair to ask Obama to focus on the plight of the least of his brethren even before he's had a chance be inaugurated, let alone revel in the euphoria of his stunning accomplishment. Yet, as implied by the Dr. King metaphor he's been so fond of quoting on the stump, there is a ’fierce urgency of now.’ So I say, Dr. West must be commended for so lovingly and frankly reminding Barack of the meaning of that phrase while exploring a litany of themes in a heartfelt manner, topics ranging from leadership to faith to family to identity to education to spirituality to service to social justice.
A passionate appeal to Obama about his responsibility to the masses and the millions of modest contributors who helped put him in office, plus a timely message that ’You can't save the people if you don't serve the people.’
interview with Dr. West as he discusses his latest book
Hope on a Tightrope: Words and Wisdom