Kanye Ain’t Crazy: Refuting Rhetoric Born out of White Supremacy

kanye west # 2

“In this country a black man only have like 5 years we can exhibit maximum strength, and that’s right now while you a teenager, while you still strong or while you still wanna lift weights, while you still wanna shoot back. ‘Cause once you turn 30 it’s like they take the heart and soul out of a man, out of a black man in this country and you don’t wanna fight no more. And if you don’t believe me you can look around, you don’t see no loud mouth 30-year old muthafuckas…”
-Tupac Shakur

Had I not already been told about the Tupac interview at the end of Kendrick Lamar’s “Mortal Man,” hearing Pac’s voice might have caught me extremely off guard. While Tupac passed in September of 1996 at the age of 25, we’re still getting blessed with unheard content from the late, great emcee. Concluding last year’s classic To Pimp a Butterfly with an unheard Tupac interview was a genius idea. Of the many things Tupac said, the above quote stuck with me. Being over 30 myself, I’ve seen many people lose their heart to fight. With age comes increased responsibility– often to significant others and children. Fighting the “good fight” to break free often turns into fighting the struggle to survive daily. Dreams that were once inspiration for endless possibilities become temporary escapes from reality. While I’m sure most can relate to this feeling regardless of background, as a black man in this country, it hits a little bit harder, and often, a lot earlier. ‘Pac saw that back in the 90s. It’s too bad Pac never got to see Kanye West.

Bad Blood

KanyeWest

If you’re going to discuss the case of “The People” vs Kanye West, you can’t ignore Taylor Swift. Regardless of how we felt about Kanye’s opinion, Kanye was wrong for getting on that stage. He knows it, that’s why he apologized for it. While Taylor may have seemed to accept his apology, it wouldn’t be Taylor Swift that ‘Ye would have to worry about. While a lot has changed in this country, a lot has stayed the same. One of the worst things a black man can do in this country is disrespect a white woman. Had Kanye repeatedly called Lil Mama ugly until she cried, he would have been able ot move past it, people would have memed Lil Mama’s sadness, and laughed at her. Had he maybe threatened Azealia Banks with physical violence, bouncing back from said incident would have been easy. However, in a society that still loves to voguex-largeportray black men as animals, and white women as damsels that need protection from the beasts, that Taylor Swift incident wasn’t gonna go away anytime soon. While Taylor didn’t ask to be involved, she’s definitely benefited from it. One would have to be extremely naive to believe she hasn’t. Her label at the time felt it helped her career. “The Kanye incident brought attention to Taylor, to an audience that did not really know her or her music” says Scott Borchata, President of Big Machine Records, Swift’s label, via an article in Wall Street Journal. “And when they did check it out, they discovered that they really liked it.” he continued. Forbes published an article in 2014 titled “The Strange Symbiosis Of Taylor Swift And Kanye West” showing the clear positive impact the incident had on Taylor Swift, and the negative impact Kanye had to fight through. Prior to the VMAs debacle, Taylor Swift debuted on the Forbes Celeb 100 Power List at #69 making $19 million, the year after she shot up to #12 bringing home $45 million. Kanye on the other hand went from #46 bringing in $25 million in 2009, to cancelled tours, being called a jackass by the President, and falling completely off the list in 2010. Taylor Swift has remained in the top 20 of Forbes list every year after the 2009 VMAs. Again, the public’s reaction to the incident isn’t Taylor’s fault. Sure, she did release a single in 2010 titled “Innocent” which many have tied directly back to the 2009 VMAs, and she did perform it at the VMA’s a year after the incident, opening the performance with a video clip of Kanye speaking out during her acceptance speech…but she can’t fully be blamed for the public’s reaction to the situation. She is partially to blame for the public’s reaction to Kanye’s “controversial” lyrics from the song “Famous” however.

“For all my Southside niggas that know me best
I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex
Why? I made that bitch famous (goddamn)
I made that bitch famous”
-Kanye West “Famous”

Black and Latina celebs get referred to as bitches, hoes, THOTs, whatever…no problem. When it’s Taylor Swift, it’s much different. Clearly the public couldn’t be upset with Kanye claiming he had a major impact on Taylor’s career as there was no backlash when mainstream media outlets made similar claims years before. Much ado about nothing, right? I mean if Kanye cleared the lines with Taylor and his wife, what’s the issue? While Kanye’s tweets about clearing lines with Taylor Swift and his wife before releasing them may not have gotten as much attention as his tweets about being in “debt,” a co-sign from Swift could squash all this right? Instead we got a Grammy speech in which Taylor warned young women of how people would try to take credit for their accomplishments and fame. Ironically, the album that won Swift her second “Album of the Year” Grammy was led by a single that was essentially a diss to another popular female singer. Regardless, if we’re to believe West’s claims about his conversation between he and Swift (which, among all the stuff that’s been written, no one has claimed to not believe) Swift’s speech seems fake and self-serving. Stating the song was offensive (which, would have been understandable) would have more than likely prevented it’s release, instead she co-signed it privately only to eventually speak against it publicly. While Swift (who thought it was OK to pet the Weeknd’s hair) can’t be blamed for society’s racist views about interactions between Black males and white females, she can be blamed for adding fuel to the fire for her own benefit. Still, while the 2009 VMA incident with Kanye West and Taylor Swift gave the media it’s pass to paint Kanye in a certain light, there are other issues involved.

“Even My Conditioning has been Conditioned….”

Discussions of racism and white supremacy are often intentionally oversimplified. If your understanding of white supremacy begins and ends with white hate groups, you can’t fully grasp the issues that exist in this country. One of white supremacy’s strongest tools is conditioning. A lot of the effects of the conditioning instituted in slavery still exists to this day. Dr. Joy deGruy wrote about what she defined as “post traumatic slave syndrome,” the effects of over 246 years of trauma, followed by more trauma  with no period of healing. Essentially Dr. deGruy posits that the generation upon generation of trauma existing in slavery required necessary conditioning to even exist; conditioning that changed not only slaves but the slave masters, slave owners, and those who lived in a society that cosigned the treatment of descendants of Africa. The lack of healing created broken individuals who passed down their issues through generations. If you pay close attention, a lot of that conditioning can be seen in people’s reactions to Kanye West.

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