In his scholarship and in his personal philosophy, the professor Cornel West has arrived at a simple conclusion. “Justice is what love looks like in public,” he said during a 2011 speech at Howard University. “Just like tenderness is what love looks like in private.”
Often decontextualized and shared as a stand-alone sentiment, the first half of the quote has taken on a life of its own. It’s pithy and soothing, the kind of snappy feel-good slogan that lends itself perfectly to Pinterest quote cards and Tumblr re-blogs. West’s speech preceded some of the more issue-driven rhetorical marriages of love and justice that have come to animate public discourse; it was pre-#LoveWins, ante-#SideWithLove.
But for all the rallying cries touting the transformative power of love, still far too few public examples exist of the principle taken to its pragmatic conclusion. And so it was particularly heartening to hear the core of West’s sentiment echoed most recently by the Spanish American celebrity chef, activist, and author José Andrés. In a Wednesday conversation with the NPR Morning Edition and Up First host Rachel Martin at The Atlantic Festival, Andrés spoke with urgency about leading hunger-relief efforts in Puerto Rico following the initial impact of Hurricane Maria last September.