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“After being tenured at Yale, Harvard, Princeton & Union Theological Seminary, the recent Harvard denial of a tenure process strikes me as a political decision I reject,” he tweeted on Friday. “Nothing stands in the way of my profound love for & solidarity with oppressed peoples wherever they are!!”
West suggested Harvard’s decision is related to his support for Palestinian liberation and criticism of Israeli occupation.
“Is Harvard a place for a free Black man like myself whose Christian faith & witness put equal value on Palestinian & Jewish babies- like all babies- & reject all occupations as immoral?” he wrote.
West is currently a professor of the practice of public philosophy in both Harvard Divinity School and the Department of African and African American Studies. He told The Boston Globe that he’s now considering leaving his post due to the college’s actions.
“It is once again this issue of just not putting up with being disrespected,” he told the newspaper. He returned to Harvard in 2017 after leaving in 2002 to teach at Princeton. West asked to be considered for a tenure process after a positive review.
“What I’m told is it’s too risky,” West said. “And these are quotes. It’s too fraught. And I’m too controversial.”
In response to West’s tweets, Black professors and others expressed solidarity and identified with the struggle of racial discrimination within primarily white academic institutions.
“It’s a reminder that folks will always find a way to try to demean Black scholars,” historian and University of Pittsburgh associate professor Keisha N. Blain tweeted. “Tenure and promotion are weapons schools use against us.”
That news about Cornel West has me on edge. It’s a reminder that folks will always find a way to try to demean Black scholars. Tenure and promotion are weapons schools use against us. The academy is just an expression of society at large. White supremacy reigns.
— Dr. Keisha N. Blain (@KeishaBlain) February 19, 2021
I cannot even imagine having the stature and seniority of Cornel West and subjecting myself to a tenure review process *again*. I literally cannot imagine. The entire proposition is an act of violence.
— Professor Fleming (@alwaystheself) February 19, 2021
We've had personal (public) disagreements over the years, but there's no question Prof. Cornel West is a captivating teacher, contributing member of academic communities & a trailblazing public intellectual deserving of tenure in any American university. https://t.co/QDSrsT4vlv
— Melissa Harris-Perry (@MHarrisPerry) February 19, 2021
I met Cornel West years ago at my university and he remembered me later in the day as “the sociologist who’s doing good work.” I felt so seen since I’m often invisible in academia. Dr. West is a phenomenal public scholar—Harvard owes him tenure 100x over. pic.twitter.com/bXgcMDl9tZ
— Nancy Wang Yuen (@nancywyuen) February 19, 2021
Dr. @CornelWest is the most brilliant and remarkable professor that I had at Harvard. I just never met anyone who could teach philosophy, religion, democratic socialism, and the Black radical tradition on Monday, and then on Friday, go get arrested in Ferguson for justice
— derecka (@dereckapurnell) February 19, 2021
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