Kanye West opened his mouth and promptly inserted his foot in it once again during one of his rants at a show. As if his remarks about voting for Donald Trump weren’t enough, he also decided to share his two cents on racism and once again prove what a contradiction he can be at times.
“Before I get out of here I want to talk about race and the idea of racism in America and the world,” West said. From there, he went into a brief spiel on how the outcome of the presidential election wouldn’t affect racism in America. Instead of worrying about discrimination, ‘Ye suggests people just get over it.
“Specifically to black people, stop focusing on racism,” he said. “This world is racist, OK? Let’s stop being distracted to focus on that as much. It’s a f***ing fact. We are in a racist country.” He reportedly also told the crowd how, as a black man and a celebrity, he felt persecuted for supporting Trump but now feels “vindicated” by his victory in the presidential race.
Kanye West tonight speaking on racism in America. “Specifically to black people, stop talking about race so much.” pic.twitter.com/HTWlJgdq7E
— Brandon E. Patterson (@myblackmindd) November 18, 2016
Yes, the same Kanye who called out George Bush’s lack of concern for Hurricane Katrina victims was due to their skin color. The same Kanye who used the Confederate flag as part of his tour merch in recent years. The same one who once rapped that he might encourage his son to become a Republican “So everybody know he love white people.” He’s the same man who railed against the fashion industry, citing race as part of the reason why he wasn’t be accepted.
Yes, these are all the same Kanye. While he’s not reaching Lil Wayne levels of unchecked ignorance, he’s running very close. Actually, he was one utterance away of the phrase “all lives matter” to end up at the top of the list of celebs telling black people to check themselves and not the actions of crooked police, politicians, and other members of society who’ve made it hard on minorities for centuries.
People are entitled to their right to grow and change. It’s something I’ve had to acknowledge privately and publicly regarding Pusha T’s decision to get political. I may not agree with Pusha’s take, I can at least understand parts of his thought process on why he was pro-Clinton even though she and her husband supported the push that lead to thousands of young black males ending up in prison.
Kanye’s just a walking contradiction governed by his own self-interest and a refusal to face reality at certain times.
One Sunday, maybe he should walk into Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina and tell church members there not to be concerned with race. Or maybe take a trip to Flint and ask citizens there whether they think the lack of clean water in their city has anything to do with race or class. He could also ask Michael Brown or Trayvon Martin’s families if they feel like race is a non-issue that we shouldn’t worry about anymore. Kanye should go back home to the south and west sides of Chicago to tell those people race isn’t anything to be concerned with, even though recent acts point toward a different truth.
Right now, Kanye’s living in a celebrity world where he’s insulated from certain daily headaches the rest of black America may experience. In ways very similar to Lil Wayne, money and media attention blind Kanye from the idea that he might be refused service at a restaurant, albeit subversively, as if we were still living in a Jim Crow world. His reality isn’t filled with the same uncertainty many parents of different minority groups have been dealing with as their kids ask them what reality will be like under a new president who hasn’t always expressed the most likable thoughts about race. Small wrinkles like those aren’t visible when you’re living your life in a world of flashing lights while you’re perched on a flying stage above everyone else.
Kanye’s reality isn’t the same as the average black person trying to provide a better life for their family and give them a sense of security as well. I can respect the difference. I just wish he could do the same for me and many others like me. Maybe the backlash and healthy conversation with many of the great, creative minds he has around him will open his eyes to what’s inherently wrong with asking black people not to focus on race. If that happens, then maybe he, too, will continue to evolve and change the way he sees things in comparison to the statements he made on Thursday night.
Or, maybe in another 15 years or so, when his son gets pulled over for driving while black, then we’ll see how he feels about how much time, attention and energy should be dedicated to the concept of racism.
He got one thing right: racism isn’t going away. But not focusing on it won’t help create any of the necessary changes our country needs in order for our kids not to have the same problems when they’re adults.