Kanye West is a damn fool. It’s sad to say, but that negro lost his rabbit ass mind talking bout he a "free thinker". Turns out that “free thinking” ain’t free; it actually costs a couple billion and your soul and ‘Ye has gladly paid it for only God knows what reason. I don’t know why Kanye decided to not only double down on his support of Agent Orange but also ignore decades of scholarship on slavery, but he has. Kanye has decided that his right to talk reckless and be stupid is more important than being responsible for the millions of people who were/are fans of his, and its time for us to make a decision as well. Since Kanye shows no signs of slowing down or even recognizing exactly how screwed up, it we have to ask ourselves if his "genius" is enough to excuse his behavior. We have to decide to hold Kanye accountable, whether that means pressuring him to do better or cutting him off until he does.
Now, I’m an advocate for people deciding on their own terms what they will do with problematic folks. I recognize that we all have to figure out how (and if) we can separate the art from the artist and what is too much for us to support anymore. I’m not gonna go out and say that everyone should delete all of the Kanye music from their music library (For the record I did. Getting rid of “All Falls Down” hurt.) I still eat Chik-fil-A from time to time because of convenience and I may still jig to a Cardi or Migos song if I’m not thinking. But I do actively try to limit my intake of art from super problematic folk, especially stuff I have to pay for. Why? Because in the capitalist society we live in folks will only pay attention to you when you mess with their money. Why do you think Starbucks is closing their stores for racial bias education? It isn’t because they suddenly realized that Black Lives Matter. They realized that the controversy would mess with their money, and particularly their public image (which has already been under fire). R. Kelly didn’t speak on people calling him out on being a rapist until he got muted, and Georgia didn’t kill the anti-LGBT bill being proposed until movie companies and the NFL (of all things) started pulling out of the state. For an egomaniac that enjoys being rich like Kanye, stopping streaming and/or buying his music is probably also the only way to get his attention. If we truly want to show that fuckery like what Kanye is spitting won’t be tolerated, we have to show that we won’t support it. I don't know about you, but I can let a good album or two go if it means that there will be a little less ignorance in the world. Otherwise, people like Kanye are gonna keep saying and doing stupid shit and we’ll end up wondering how our entire iTunes playlist got filled with people who donate the money we give them to racist, sexist, and homophobic laws.
Which of course leads to the other piece of this: the education piece. In truth, we have to educate ourselves in order to have any hopes of educating others, and that can't happen unless we recognize how these things work together. It’s easy to say that “Kanye just has an opinion” when you don’t recognize that this man is setting meetings with the leader of this country. We KNOW that Trump will support anyone who pays him or tells him nice things (how do you think we got DeVos or the revolving door of his cabinet members?), so you don’t think a very rich and very influential Black celebrity will have some clout? I'm certain that for Trump, 'Ye represents being able to connect to a demographic that doesn't like him, which turns into more money and more “respect” for him. Even the most racist people will gladly use a person of color for whatever they can if it will help them in the long run. They may even give them the illusion of power by letting them make a few decisions if it means keeping them around. That’s how enslavement was a thing; they gave overseers a taste of power and they did above and beyond their master’s bidding. That’s how the Black middle class became a stumbling block; they had a taste of privilege and would vote and stand with whiteness in order to hold on to it. Kanye, with his huge media platform, out here saying that slavery was a choice gives dumb ass folks of any color an excuse to agree with him AND is dangerous AF. If slavery was a choice then the people who were disadvantaged by it are messed up because of themselves. And if they are messed up because of themselves then they don’t need anyone to help fill the gaps of wealth, education, etc. And if they don’t need any help then why would we support welfare, low income housing, education grants and scholarships, and affirmative action? Kanye is a multimillion record selling artist who has been hailed as a genius. You better believe people are listening, some of them even agreeing, with what he has to say because they respect and/or can use him. That's the power of propaganda. If you can convince enough people that even the stupidest thing on the planet is correct, then it becomes correct. Take a look at all the people on your social media who are agreeing, playing Devil's Advocate (which usually means they lowkey agree), or trying to justify what Kanye said. That's the start of all of what I said above.
That’s why I have had to do something I never thought I’d do and applaud Charlemagne Tha God. He actually took the time to try to have a conversation with Kanye and engage him on why his behavior was toxic. To be fair, the good brother Van Lathan from TMZ started this process, but both men tried to actually educate ‘Ye on the error of his ways. Now, again, Kanye is an egomaniac and is used to us excusing whatever foolishness he does because he’s a genius or because his momma died so who knows if he’ll actually listen. But both Charlemagne and Lathan show the importance of educating both ourselves and problematic people. Not all of them are out here being reckless just for the hell of it: some of them legitimately don’t know better. Those of us that do must take the time to meet them where they are and show them that no, the Haitian Revolution is not a suitable counter to why Black Americans “chose” slavery. We must also recognize that these folks that are out here supporting nothing but oppressive folks and ideas and calling themselves “free thinkers” are NOT exercising free speech, but actually causing real harm. More than anything else, we must recognize that knowledge and understanding are precious, and that without context and constant learning we, like Kanye, will never have all the answers.
What do you think of this Kanye controversy? How do you think we should educate ourselves better against this type of misinformation? Feel free to leave your comments, questions, and concerns below and don't forget to like, share, and subscribe!