Controversial speaker talks racial inequality, homophobia

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Cornel West admitted he says controversial things.

During his speech Wednesday evening in Carter Hall, West spoke on subjects such as racial inequality, xenophobia, homophobia and prejudice.

Every seat in Carter Hall was full with students, faculty and community members who came to see West, an American philosopher, academic, social activist, author, public intellectual, and prominent member of the Democratic Socialists of America speak.

Attendees who couldn’t find seats were lined against the back of the room.

Laura Guse said West’s speech was “incredibly relevant and eloquent.”

“Everyone can say racism is dead,” the social work graduate student said, “but it is clearly not. I want to be a social worker  so I want to fight for all human rights.

Guse said the biggest thing attendees could take away from the evening is to have compassion in life.

“Put yourself in the shoes of others,” she said.

After he took the stage 63-year-old West grasped both sides of the podium as he spoke on education and self-examination.

More than once, the word “preach” was called out from the audience.

“The highest compliment you can give a child is calling them smart,” West said. “Let me tell you something, there were smart Nazis. There are smart xenophobes. Compassion and wisdom cut deeper than smartness.”

Afnan Alnashwan, a graduate first year master student in Second Language Acquisition, said the speech energized her.

She said West spoke in a way that a lot of people do not, he said what needed to be said but with love instead of hatred.

“Now, after listening to Dr. West speak about standing out and not just fitting in, I am not afraid of teaching my son that this is who we are,” she said. “this is where he comes from.”

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