BATTLE RAP: MICHAEL ERIC DYSON VS. CORNEL WEST
The News: It is a rare moment when Michael Eric Dyson isn’t talking, but for more than a year he kept mum while being ridiculed by onetime comrade Cornel West. At a recent forum in New York, Dyson unleashed a counterattack that could ignite a war of words between two of the country’s leading black intellectuals.
The magazine Rolling Out reports that Dyson, a best-selling author and professor of sociology at Georgetown University, said that West has succumbed to hubris and “a huge ego” through his scathing criticism of President Barack Obama and prominent African Americans who have defended the president’s policies.
Speaking at the National Action Network’s 16th annual convention Thursday in New York, Dyson said, “So stop thinking that your way is the only way. … Be honest and humble in genuine terms, not the public performance of humility masquerading a huge ego. No amount of hair can cover that.”
Last year West, himself a celebrated author and professor at Princeton University, said of Obama’s inauguration for a second term: “And we saw of course the coronation of the bona fide house Negro of the Obama plantation, our dear brother Al Sharpton supported by the Michael Dysons and others who’ve really prostituted themselves intellectually in a very ugly and vicious way” in exchange for access to the White House.
Dyson said a mutual friend, Columbia University professor Farah Jasmine Griffin, intervened to “negotiate a cease of hostilities” that apparently failed:
“I’ve probably known him longer than anybody on this panel. Hung out with him,” Dyson said. “I’ve been a victim of his vicious assaults in public. I’ve held my powder. That ain’t my usual nature. … I’m not going to pretend that it doesn’t hurt for you to call me a sellout because I disagree with you. You can be ‘ride-or-die,’ but while you’re riding—see who your vehicle is rolling over.”
The Take: It’s been a while since we had a good battle rap, so this may shape up to be the ivory tower’s equivalent of Jay Z vs. Nas.