In just seven words, Kanye woke the White world up to how Black people were feeling about the lack of response and aid to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. In that raw and powerful ad lib monologue, he managed to rattle and inspire marginalized groups everywhere to start speaking their truth, unapologetically.
And maybe that’s what Kanye really believes in his heart he is doing now. Maybe he really feels like he still fighting the good fight and is trying, once again, to be a voice for his community. After all, he did tweet that he was meeting Trump to discuss “multicultural issues.”
But Kanye is not the same shade of himself in 2016 as he was back in 2004. And the world outside of Kanyeland can feel it and recognizes that what they are seeing today is a gross distortion of who he once was. A collage of iconography that no longer paints a clear picture. And people are beginning to call it as they see it: the emperor isn’t wearing any clothes and maybe never really had any to begin with.
They are checking his glamorization and adoration of Whiteness and calling him out as a distraction from the real political issues that matter to the world and the people he so haphazardly claims he is meeting with Trump to ‘represent.’
Because to those people, Trump isn’t wearing any clothes either. Or, as the second generation American husband of one of my friends so eloquently put it:
“Donald Trump is what immigrants and minorities imagine rich White Americans to be like and that’s why he’s so effective; he’s like the caricature.”
And that’s exactly what Kanye is now — a caricature of Blackness and his former self. A man so blinded by status symbols and what the White world has that he wants, that he has stripped himself of any shade of revolutionary that he so often claims to be. And because he’s gutting himself of any version of the Black man in 2004 who wasn’t afraid to push back and speak out against the White world of politics, he’s now the kind of Black that Whiteness wants us to be — subservient, agreeable, and a ‘good friend’ and champion to his Master — and who, if given the chance, would sell us all out to be the White master wielding the whip.
Kanye is becoming the very thing he hated in 2004 and in George W. Bush: too far removed from the reality of we the people of color to truly create the change he seeks. He is so consumed by his own version of reality and his ego to see past his own actions and how his negative use of his power of celebrity affects us all.
Kanye, like Trump, lives in his ego while the rest of us have to live in the reality of the fallout.
Because when you ask us to blindly accept the fact that racism exists and to stop talking about it, you do so from your carafe of privilege, your multi-million dollar mansion, and your access to all the things that money can buy that most us of who listen to your music aren’t granted entry to. And we live in the world with no celebrity to shield us from the harsh reality of being a Black, Brown, Yellow, Red, or a Rainbow person in a White world.
When you dance with the devil under the pale moonlight and call yourself God, you’ve taken your platform and made a mockery of the power of people to be and create the change they want to see and replaced it with the power of the ego and self-righteousness.
When you ignore the long and impressive resume of a woman for the celebrity of a man, lead her on by giving her thousands of dollars, and sneak your way into photographs with her, you become the patriarchy. Your actions tell the world that in 2016 it’s still OK to use women for personal gain, to pay them less for services rendered, and that no matter how smart they are or the mountains of experiences they have, they’ll never be as good or as worthy as a White man with blood money. And we, the women in America, hear you loud and clear — and so can your daughter.
But like the emperor who doesn’t realize he’s not wearing any clothes, Kanye doesn’t see the issues because he’s too wrapped up in all the furs and iconification of himself that he can no longer see that the reality he lives in only exists in his head.
And you can’t win a battle that has its outposts in your head.
“We at war, we at war with terrorism, racism, but most of all, we at war with ourselves,” Kanye sang in “Jesus Walks.”
Kanye is at war with himself — and, right now, he is losing.
And so are the rest of us.