Princeton professor Cornel West has stirred up controversy with his comments that President Obama, as a result of having a white mother, is afraid of free black men. West also called Obama a "black mascot of Wall Street" and "head of the American killing machine."
"I think my dear brother Barack Obama has a certain fear of free black men," West said. "It's understandable. As a young brother who grows up in a white context, brilliant African father, he's always had to fear being a white man with black skin. All he has known culturally is white. He is just as human as I am, but that is his cultural formation. When he meets an independent black brother, it is frightening."
This has prompted condemnation from many black academics, including Melissa Harris-Perry, who calls the attacks "self-aggrandizing" and a reflection of West's "delicate ego." West and Harris-Perry both appeared on 'The Ed Schultz Show' to provide point/counter-point on the comments.
Gavon Laessig is a deputy news director and front page editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.