Earlier this week, I was rapping with one of our contributors, Vince, mostly catching up since I hadn't seen him since we traveled to New York with the rest of the crew back in May.
We then bumped into Sean -- a now third-year student who I could swear just showed up to campus yesterday. These positive, progressive young guys are here with me one minute then graduating the next. #timeflies
Sean and Vince start going back and forth on this and that, and then Vince informs Sean that he really needs to check Race Matters by Cornel West. Vince notes that he picked up a copy when we were in New York, and he goes on to make the case for why it's important to read.
Vince adds that our man Dometi, a graduating senior, had hipped him to West's book a while back, as he had come across the work. Dometi is one of the leading conscious folks on campus, so that was a big endorsement for West. Of course, given Sean's interest in the topic of "race matters" and deep thinking in general, it wasn't hard to convince him. But Vince being Vince was still convincing.
I enjoyed, as I always do, observing these young folks, talking through these ideas. We hear quite a bit about young black men slacking off, but what about these moments when they are going over essential black books--books, mind you, that were not assigned in their classes? Whatever the case, I was just glad to be a witness.
As Sean and Vince were talking, I recalled that I encountered West's Race Matters (1993) during my first year (1995-1996) of college when I was a student at Tougaloo College in Mississippi. That book was an important introduction into some of the broader contemporary conversations about race and what I could eventually come to know as black studies.
Ah, contemporary. Maybe that notion of West's book being "contemporary" back then came to mind as I heard Sean and Vince discussing West's 1993 book, because later in the day, I got at them on twitter to start thinking about more recent books about race matters.
Right now, at the top of my list of books to read is Randall Kennedy's The Persistence of the Color Line: Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency, which was reviewed in the Times recently. Our program will soon purchase a couple of Kennedy's new book. So hopefully, I can convince some of the folks in the circle to read and discuss it with me.