By Beau Okechukwu
Kanye West is the living embodiment of controversy. While his most recent comments about Jewish people have finally given him some consequences for his hate, but his comments pertaining to Black people over the past few years should’ve come with punishment prior to his anti-Semitic comments.
He infamously suggested slavery was a “choice,” he has spoken out against pro-Blackness and Black culture (which has made him billions) numerous times, and most recently sported a “White Lives Matter” shirt alongside fellow Black conservative, Candace Owens.
All of these actions have made me despise someone who was once my biggest inspiration. Since my adolescence, I’ve looked up to Kanye. I have long considered him the greatest musical artist of all time. I, like many others, have been an apologist for his recent anti-Black actions.
He’s one of those people who get the benefit of the doubt due to their talent, but this action was my last straw. It only highlighted an issue that’s becoming more common in the African-American community. Many of us are starting to get more comfortable with turning our backs on who we are.
We can talk about how problematic Black Lives Matter has been all day, but no one can tell me that their message is wrong.
We, as Black people, have been oppressed and disrespected since we were brought on those boats. Stating that Black lives matter should not be a topic of controversy, because we’ve been shown the contrary for so long. Stating that all lives matter or white lives matter isn’t an issue in itself. The issue comes with the context–that being that these statements are made to oppose and minimize the message of Black lives mattering.
What is accomplished by saying that a group of people who have been favored and seen as superior since the inception of African chattel slavery matters? “White Lives Matter” is a movement championed by racists who see us getting more representation and simultaneously knowing that there is still more work to do, as us being ungrateful. That is the mindset of a slave master. Even with more representation, that doesn’t mean that we’re really equal.
A man like Kanye calling out Black people for supposedly using our identity as a crutch is condescending, because he himself will tell you that we face obstacles. It is easier for us to move up in the world these days, but that doesn’t make our women less disrespected, it doesn’t make our culture less frowned upon, it doesn’t erase the stereotypes that are ingrained in the minds of many Americans and it doesn’t make up for the everlasting impact that every tragic event we’ve faced has had on us.
Kanye, Candace Owens, Ben Carson, Herschel Walker and others are teaching us that assimilating and losing ourselves is what we must do, which is damaging.
Black people are at our strongest when we are proud and united. We have culture, we have personality and we have influence. Black is beautiful, no matter how many people suggest that lighter skin should be strived for.
Being Black and proud may cause us to be demonized, it may result in making others uncomfortable, but it is necessary for us to have self-respect and dignity.
This is not to say that all Black people should act the same, that should never be the case. It is to say that we should lift one another up and spit in the face of anyone who looks down on anything pro-Blackness represents. Even Kanye Omari West.