Cornel Ronald West (born June 2, 1953) is an American philosopher, political activist, social critic, author, and public intellectual.
The grandson of a Baptist minister, West focuses on the role of race, gender, and class in American society and the means by which people act and react to their “radical conditionedness.” A radical democrat and socialist, West draws intellectual contributions from multiple traditions, including Christianity, the black church, Marxism, neopragmatism, and transcendentalism. Among his most influential books are Race Matters (1994) and Democracy Matters (2004).
West is an outspoken voice in left-wing politics in the United States, and as such has been critical of members of the Democratic Party, including former President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. He has held professorships and fellowships at Harvard University, Dartmouth College, Princeton University, Yale University, Pepperdine University, Union Theological Seminary, and the University of Paris during his career. He is also a frequent commentator on politics and social issues in many media outlets.From 2010 through 2013, West co-hosted a radio program with Tavis Smiley, called Smiley and West. He has also been featured in several documentaries, and made appearances in Hollywood films such as The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, providing commentary for both films. West has also made several spoken word and hip hop albums, and due to his work, has been named MTV’s Artist of the Week. West co-hosts a podcast, The Tight Rope, with Tricia Rose. In 2020, he was listed by Prospect as the fourth-greatest thinker for the COVID-19 era.