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Photo Credit: Getty Images http://www.mirror.co.uk/
Photo Credit: Getty Images http://www.mirror.co.uk/

I recently wrote an article called, “Harry Belafonte Was Right About Jay-Z.” The article went viral, generating a huge response from the Black community and beyond.  A few readers were puzzled when I stated, “Kanye West…often laments about racism but strives to uphold the same materialistic values that help drive economic disparities.” Now, I will explore this more thoroughly.

There is no denying that Kanye West has had a tremendous impact on the music industry and pop culture. From the beginning of his mainstream career, Kanye has been critical of issues dealing with racism and the structures within it. His infamous, “George Bush doesn’t care about Black people,” statement caused a media frenzy and solidified the general sentiments of the Black community during the Hurricane Katrina tragedy.

Yet it seems with more fame and popularity, Kanye’s commentary has shifted from calling out racism because it’s wrong, to calling out racism because he didn’t get a seat at the table. This is the bigger issue.

Frantz Fanon
Frantz Fanon

The distinguished psychiatrist Frantz Fanon addressed this line of thinking in his 1961 classic Wretched of the Earth. In this literary masterpiece, Fanon deconstructed the colonized mind.

“The gaze that the colonized subject casts at the colonist’s sector is a look of lust, a look of envy. Dreams of possession. Every type of possession; of sitting at the colonist’s table and sleeping in his bed, preferably with his wife. The colonized man is an envious man.”

One cannot deny the lasting effects that slavery and colonialism has had on African Americans and people of African descent around the world. In a recent interview, Kanye vehemently states, “We’re all slaves!” I understand him to a certain extent. Indeed, there is a systematic glass ceiling that prevents people of African descent and people from low economic classes from upward mobility. Even when some rise up the ranks, there are still many barriers that prevent them from attaining certain goals because they do not come from a certain class (the old money class). This is where I understand Kanye on the fashion industry. They don’t want him and they never will. He will forever be categorized as “urban,” a description he is desperately running away from because he knows that this is another way of being pigeonholed and prevented from making a significant impact (beyond blackness and urbanism) in the fashion industry.

WEB_DuBois_1918
W.E.B. Du Bois

In some ways it coincides with  W.E.B Du Bois’ description of double consciousness:

It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his two-ness,—an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.

However, Kanye has time and time again demonstrated that he is displeased with the system solely based on the fact that he wants a seat at the table. His anger is steeped in envy rather than reform. And this is dangerous because we get away from transforming these hierarchical structures, to unknowingly reinforcing them.

For example, this is evident in his almost complete dismissal of Black models for his runway shows in Paris. He doesn’t seem too concerned about the pains of racism unless it’s affecting his own progress. Instead, he went with the flow and continued to allow for Black models to be denied a chance at equality. He also cheers on fashion brands that are known for their lack of diversity. The fashion brand Céline, was recently boycotted by the supermodel Iman, because of their refusal to hire Black models. Meanwhile Kanye West orders full wardrobes of Céline clothing, attends their shows and sports their brand.

Furthermore, he has a lack of respect for African American history. Much like the N-Word, no matter what way you look at it, the Confederate flag represents the deep rooted oppression of African Americans. In fact, it was used as a tool to remind us of our “place.” After the Brown v. Board of Education desegregation ruling, the state of Georgia started using the Confederate flag as a sign of the good ole’ days.

kanye-west-Confederate-Flag

The painful past associated with the symbolism surrounding the flag and what it represents is no laughing or fashion forward matter. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, about 500 extremist groups still use the cross on the Confederate Flag as a symbol of white superiority. This example is tired and old but I can’t imagine someone wearing a Swastika for fashion. I wonder if Kanye will start wearing symbols promoting the South African apartheid era next.

When Kanye speaks about racism or slavery, he’s not doing it for the ordinary people, but instead for sensationalism. He is using the Confederate flag to generate buzz, no matter how hurtful it may be.

He also has an incessant belief that Paris is the only fashion mecca and it has to let him in.  Kanye recently wanted to help the Louis Vuitton brand with his “influence.” They promptly rejected the offer.

Kanye has an obsession with getting acceptance, but not the “colored” kind. When the radio host Sway tried to encourage him to maybe create his own way, Kanye gave the now Twitter famous reply, “ You ain’t got the answers Sway.”

Indeed none of us may have the complete answers to racism and upward mobility. However, given his track record and current behavior, Kanye simply can’t be taken seriously on racism.  With every new Kanye rant we are witnessing a public display of internal conflict consisting of Fanon’s “dreams of possession” and Dubois’ double consciousness. Ultimately, he cares more about having a seat at the table with the same people he accuses of racism and classism, than bringing about change.

JamAllen2-nb-smallJessica Ann Mitchell Aiwuyor is the founder of OurLegaci.com. To reach JAM, email her at JAMAiwuyor@gmail.com.

Follow JAM on Facebook at Facebook.com/JAMAiwuyor.


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349 thoughts on “Kanye's Frantz Fanon Complex”

      1. You made my day with this article. You said so many things that make so very much sense. Why are we so hesitant to see things as they really are? Why do we try so hard to fit where we have no place and do not belong? Why do we continue to feel a need to please the executioner? Why do we waste our wealth on things of no value and most foreign to our real needs? Thank you for giving a good deal of clarity, understanding, and validation to these issues and concerns of mine.

      2. I happen to understand Kanye and his frustrstions. If you listen to him he says in order to make change for us, one of us has to be at that table. Its hard to truly discern his motives until he has said seat.

      3. Haha! I think that it’s awesome that he’s wearing a confederate flag! Racists red necks will be so pissed off. He’s taking all the awfulness behind that flag and giving it new meaning. Not saying any of the terrible things that happened should be forgotten, but we’ve progressed enough where we are able to grow and compound ideas. I didn’t care much for Kanye before this article, now I don’t think he’s half bad 🙂

      4. I like this. I do have a but.
        How do you win a war. You invade their land, you take the head, euthanize their strength and culture and re-gentrify their capitols with your likeness. Oh and have your way with all the spoils. That’s the quick way.
        But, the Dubois and Frantz statements have huge valid points. But not on every point at this time or i should refer to situation.
        Also, everyone thinks in first person. So when something happens to you, you address it from your point of view, as Kanye is doing. He isnt the most diplomatic of individuals. He hasnt the training or upbringing. Don’t put the whow’s of the know non-nation of AA’s on the Back of an Artist. This is a we thing, not a he. So if we need to create another Black Wall Street than we need to do so. If we need to create schools for ourselves (like the ones in NY doing 90% college entry), then we must. If we need to pull a Nuwaubian Nation of Moors situation and buy land together and create our own slice of heaven, Then that’s what we must do. But, until we create our own institutions we still have to go through the already established. If it weren’t for the Jobs, APPLE’s, Microsofts, cable services, BestBuys and Neumann Marcus’s. Your Post would not have been seen. Which is great i might add.
        I feel we fail ourselves. The dumb of us have the paint brush, the weak of us have the sense, yet no backbone to …., the strong become institutionalized (be it sports, Money, Prison, (i hate to include) Education or Politics, ) as Frantz described, and Latch on to the luxuries of the colonialist. I’m no english major so dont kill me. lol

        I have a plan for what i will contribute in sometime after my education. We all need plans to build our nation within this nation. Just my opinion.

    1. I’d venture to say racism isn’t the issue at hand. On a larger scale, music’s influence on the current generation is adding to the imminent destruction of our world’s never-ending quest for sync. We don’t have the luxury of a system of like minded individuals (Fanon & Dubois) to analyze and develop solutions for the wretched souls like Kanye. This is in no way condoning his pretentious behavior. However, he is but a modern day Tybalt. The black community in itself is not at stake, the human mind and ability to reason is.

    2. Good read. The Swastika was used in India well before Hitler got a hold to it. The ‘N’ word was sketched in the bible (The book of Acts) well before 1492.

    3. Of all the recent commentary on Kanye and his antics, this is the most thoughtful and thought provoking yet! Thank you for clearing my mind on the subject. As a Kanye West enthusiast, I have been perturbed by his actions as of late but have not been able to render an evaluation and “where do I go now” train of thought in regards to my allegiance to him (as a fan) this gave clear psychological and historical insight. As an MSW grad student I appreciate this all around. Hopefully Kanye will gain the ability to look within himself and find a better path and voice for his worldly platform.

    4. Excellent Points!!! He is still trying to find himself in the same way we all are, his public displays of false logic are just more…well…public..then our own internal struggles with identity and self determination. Very insightful and interesting take on it. I made the “rejection from the club” rant being his main focus connection the very first time I read about it. His priorities are mixed up clearly. Stop worrying about a seat at the table of those who dont value you and build your own table. You have the money and creativity Kanye. Come on now! smh

    5. Hey JAM,

      I read the Fanon work years ago, and just recently bought another copy. Now that you bring this up, I can see why I’ve been intrigued by Kanye’s recent barrage of interviews, but definitely not convinced by his statements.

      I was wondering though, what is different between today and years past when it comes to celebrities and social and political activism. It seems like celebrities nowadays whether they are athletes, musicians, or movie stars do not have the spirit that celebrities in the past such as Ali, Belafonte, Brando, and many others had to stir up situations. Seems that they are impotent, are there any institutional mechanisms responsible for this, or just the drive to make the most money?

    6. I like this. I do have a but.
      How do you win a war. You invade their land, you take the head, euthanize their strength and culture and re-gentrify their capitols with your likeness. Oh and have your way with all the spoils. That’s the quick way.
      But, the Dubois and Frantz statements have huge valid points. But not on every point at this time or i should refer to situation.
      Also, everyone thinks in first person. So when something happens to you, you address it from your point of view, as Kanye is doing. He isnt the most diplomatic of individuals. He hasnt the training or upbringing. Don’t put the whow’s of the know non-nation of AA’s on the Back of an Artist. This is a we thing, not a he. So if we need to create another Black Wall Street than we need to do so. If we need to create schools for ourselves (like the ones in NY doing 90% college entry), then we must. If we need to pull a Nuwaubian Nation of Moors situation and buy land together and create our own slice of heaven, Then that’s what we must do. But, until we create our own institutions we still have to go through the already established. If it weren’t for the Jobs, APPLE’s, Microsofts, cable services, BestBuys and Neumann Marcus’s. Your Post would not have been seen. Which is great i might add.
      I feel we fail ourselves. The dumb of us have the paint brush, the weak of us have the sense, yet no backbone to …., the strong become institutionalized (be it sports, Money, Prison, (i hate to include) Education or Politics, ) as Frantz described, and Latch on to the luxuries of the colonialist. I’m no english major so dont kill me. lol

      I have a plan for what i will contribute in sometime after my education. We all need plans to build our nation within this nation. Just my opinion.

    7. THE FLAG AND COLORS ORIGINALLY BELONGED TO THE NAGAS WHITE PEOPLE WITH POWER STOLE EVERYTHING FROM THE AFRIKANS ALL OF OUR SYMBOLS AND USING THEM AGAINST US SO IT DONT BOTHER ME AT ALL I KNOW THE TRUTH BEHIND IT ALL BUT WHAT DOES BOTHER ME IS SELLOUT MF’S LIKE KANYE AND THE REST OF THEM BOULE MF’S THAT ARE DOIN THE BS

    8. Kanye is only revealing a factor, that has many blacks caught up in self hatred. To shun your darker and nappy haired cousins around people that are white and successful has been the problem since segregation. I have seen black who envy whites’ yet they worship the straight hair and light skin’ and strive hard to become a clone, many are not conscious of what they are doing, the inferior complex has driven many on the brink of insanity’ Many will hate their dark children , calling them you ugly thing ,and they are also dark in complexion’ I have witness this’ This jealousy of whites drives them to want to be accepted by the whites and the only way to get there is to be their friend by any means .This is a sickness that can only be abolished through exposure’ this post is a step in the right direction’ it speaks volume’

    9. I was so confused by the photo of W. E. B. DuBois in an article citing Fanon in the title that I had to go read it to get clarification. Having read the article, I understand.

      In DuBois’ “double-consciousness” concept I was reminded of something that I see daily. Yesterday, I was listening to a James Baldwin lecture in which he described why every black boy and every black girl knows that in the American context, s/he is less than dirt and without value — it is because of an internalization of the dominant norms, which have their foundation in the values, beliefs, and background assumptions of the dominant culture. This internalization is evident in the presence of colorism in the African American community that persists to this very moment.

      Ironically, last night in my class we were discussing conspicuous consumption, which of course is the tendency that people from lower social classes (poor, working-class, lower middle class) have to ensure that others know that they “have cheddar,” by buying rims for their cars at a cost of 5 figures a wheel which have a combined cost that is greater than the car’s; by buying clothes that they can’t really afford, but leaving price tags and brand labels on them so you can see who they’re manufactured by. Things that constitute real wealth don’t have these kinds of price tags, and people can’t *conspicuously* consume them.

      So I think that Fanon’s idea about the envy of the colonized is true in Kanye’s case, and likely in many more people than are introspective enough to recognize (much less admit) it. I think that the double-mindedness makes African Americans “unstable in all [their] ways.”

      Du Bois’ words echo in those of Wade Nobles (1976), in his effort to discuss with us the African American self-concept — what it is, and how we got it. He cites Elijah Muhammad (1965), who explains that to be an African American is to have a split mind, so that there is the self that has a place in our communities and in our homes; the one that is really us, and there is a concurrently existing self that is used to negotiate an existence within the social context of the dominant culture which, as Baldwin stated, surrounds us with persistent evidence that we are regarded as without value. To survive in it, we have a completely different way of speaking to the members of the dominant culture — every black person knows what it means to have a “phone voice.”

      Every system has two main functions — the purpose for which it exists, which requires internal integration, and the necessity for continued survival in its environment, which requires adaptability. Because we are each, individually, a system, and because we are a system as a collective, a social group, these two truths pertain to us as well. We struggle to reconcile the truth of ourselves *within* our own minds (i.e., internal integration), and with the difference between the values of the society in which we live — the values it *says* it has about democratic, human equality, and the values it *really* holds when its responding to the violence that is visited upon our children (from Emmett Till to Trayvon Martin, et al.), our women (from Laura Nelson (http://withoutsanctuary.org/main.html) to Renisha McBride, et al.), and our men (from Sam Hose (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sam_Hose) to James Byrd, et al.).

      I agree with your assessment of Kanye, JAM, but also of those who assess the blonde-tressed, stereotype-fulfilling performances and characters constantly paraded before us as icons worthy of emulation. If our resources (like the $ ½ trillion we spent on hair straightening and weaves, to say nothing of the billion$ spent on bleaching cosmetic creams) can continue to be directed toward self-negation and consumption of beliefs, attitudes, and assumptions that can only undermine and destroy us, we will continue remain a non-factor, or at least a far less impactful factor on the global stage than we really could be.

      When circumstance puts a Kanye, a Jay-Z, a Beyoncé, a Nikki Menaj on the world stage, how can we possibly expect them to behave *other* than they have, when all this foregoing inner work has not been done?

      And in the face of all the cameras and money, would we, ourselves, do any better?

  1. Well said. I have no interest in anything he has to say since the Confederate flag incident. My mother called it attention seeking behavior. We need to be better than that.

  2. One day Kanye will look back and regret everything he did during this time period. I honestly don’t believe he is in his right mind.

  3. Couldn’t have said it better myself!

    Just like Kanye TRYING to boycott Vuitton, Jay-Z can’t boycott or sever ties with “racist” organizations when HE represents EVERYTHING that causes black men to be profiled in the first place. THAT would be hypocritical and laughable. Someone who glorifies black stereotypes getting mad because someone falls victim to those VERY stereotypes. Please!

    1. Hi JuJu,

      Great article. I’m glad to see that other people are thinking about this as well. It’s a shame that more people don’t know about this.

  4. This a great analysis. I am working on a similar piece about black male athletes & entertainers about why they are so willing to validate Miley and make someone an honorary white man, its all about wanting to join the status quo, rather than re-imagining a more just society.

  5. I understand your points and appreciate your comparisons but cannot say that I totally agree. The statement, ” Ultimately, he cares more about having a seat at the table with the same people he accuses of racism and classism, than bringing about change.” is confusing to me. Wouldn’t this young artistic AA visionary be actively bringing about change by breaking the barriers of the high fashion world? What gets me is that ppl seem to be totally aloof to the FACT that we as AA consumers spend the majority of our money with brands and companies who are in no way connected or reflective of our communities and lifestyles. He does not aspire to produce the next Rocawear, FUBU, Akademics, Phat Farm, etc. Nothing against these brands b/c at one point they were all flourishing but they are not as relevant today partly due to the AA consumer! He is trying to build a brand that will stand the test of time like Gucci, LV, Fendi etc. I also think he’s trying to educate ppl on matters and conversations that are already being had about us in closed rooms! He is building a blue print for something that hasn’t been done before and will need MANY sources of knowledge to do so (European high fashion designers being one). I understand that his delivery is not always pleasant but I can appreciate what he is trying to communicate lyrically and visually. And btw, southern hip hop artists have long been flashing the Confederate flag, he’s not the first and won’t be the last. Ludacris, Lil John & the Eastside Boys and Andre 3000 of Outkast have all worn the symbol ( all successful artists and actors today minus the Eastside Boys). Why is so much scrutiny being directed towards KW?

    1. I don’t see where we disagree on that point. Did you miss this part of my article? ” I understand him to a certain extent. Indeed, there is a systematic glass ceiling that prevents people of African descent and people from low economic classes from upward mobility. Even when some rise up the ranks, there are still many barriers that prevent them from attaining certain goals because they do not come from a certain class (the old money class). This is where I understand Kanye on the fashion industry. They don’t want him and they never will. He will forever be categorized as “urban,” a description he is desperately running away from because he knows that this is another way of being pigeonholed and prevented from making a significant impact (beyond blackness and urbanism) in the fashion industry.”

      I know Kanye faces inequality but you can’t uphold racist structures and claim to fight it at the same time.

      1. “know Kanye faces inequality but you can’t uphold racist structures and claim to fight it at the same time.”

        I know this sounds strange but I believe you can. Think of it as wearing an outer layer to cloak to your environment while at the same time maintaining your DNA on the inside to relay messages that contradict it. Much like a virus. The concept isn’t new Douglas Rushkoff wrote about it in his book Media Virus!.

        I’m going to come to Kanye’s defense in saying that you can’t fight every battle on every front. Right now he is creating cracks in the matrix that could stimulate conversations that we need to have. It’s up to the people to shape the conversations that now have a new venue.

        I appreciated this article there are some fair criticisms and I appreciate the quoting of Frantz Fanon and W.E.B.

      2. its not about upholding “racist structures”. its called being realistic. You have to play some politics to inside in order to make some changes. If you vehemently oppose things that they do…do you think u will ever get a seat at the table? You have to play that game in any arena. Further, the methods of protest that the others you suggest have tried hasn’t worked. Time to try something different. Accusing him of acting out of jealousy and a purely selfish motive is premature. Id say wait and see what he does with that seat. Everyone is willing to criticize his methods with no solutions.

  6. Kanye West don’t like black people! Lmao. “we are all slaves”.. Yes kanye, but now you just want us to be YOUR slaves. Simple.

  7. If anyone does not see this as unadulterated, unmitigated truth, then I need you to take a few seats. Kanye’s lived a life of contradiction ever since he became mainstream and his acquisition of the most mainstream, paparazzi princess available to him – Kim Kardashian – only illustrates the extent of the hypocrisy he lives (particularly in light of his Gold Digger lyric, “But when he get on, he leave your a$$ for a white girl”). His life is about possession, materialism, and ostentatious, ego centric self-absorption and it’s maddening and I’m disappointed at how fame has helped him morph into someone unrecognizable from the artist we original fell in love with and got behind. Kanye is going the way of Charlie Cheen – a laughable, walking meme that nobody really takes seriously.

    1. actually, i was listening to gold diggers the other day and it (him and KimK together) finally made sense to me. the lyrics say “It take too much to touch her From what I heard she got a baby by Busta My best friend says she use to f*** with Usher I don’t care what none of yall say I still love her”. It was meant to be.
      but, yes indeed, this is not the artist we fell in love with it. This is wonderful analysis.

  8. JESSICA I had to cyber scream that. I thought I was the only one who noticed his need to be accepted. Sway was so right. He should and create his own. He shouldn’t wait for others. They will come when the money starts rolling in. And these rants are showing more than his frustration. They are showing is self-centered mindset using a community cause to get attention.

    1. i agree he should create his own….but i don’t agree with the criticisms because he willing to speak out against the industry. Few people notice that no one who is actually in the fashion industry disputes his takes…He acts in self-interest to the degree that most people do….not much difference. I just don’t see that he’s that off……but i do see that we are conditioned to make him the villain….as we are whenever a black person speaks out….to each his or her own..

  9. Great article!. My sentiments exactly. And for those black people who seem to think its so cool to appropriate and embrace the Confederate flag, well, its not. I don’t care who you are or how famous you are, a black person wearing the Confedrate flag is dumb as hell. It aint cool!

  10. Another great article. Its clear Kanye has an abundance of people in his life that tell him what he want to hear. This article articulated him perfectly. His lack of historical knowledge makes his protest and outrage laughable. He called for boycott on louis vuitton however has continued to publicly wear and endorse the brand. He is another great artist that is losing touch with his initial audience that help him get to his current status.

  11. Great article, both for content and format (I’m currently writing a research paper and I wish I could get it to flow this well).

  12. I was having this conversation with my nephew last week. I posted the following:
    Being unique and buying into the culture of individualism are two different things. You can uniquely express the limitations of a society that was developed on the premise of white supremacy without having a temper tantrum. Kanye only expresses these things as it pertains to him, but not as it pertains to those who are crushed by it, but have no microphone to express their oppression. When it worked for him, he didn’t have much to say. In that way, he is disingenuous

  13. This clever research and creative headlining could have been used to add some light into the world.
    Why not question the fact that Charlemagne thought is was ok to say to an artist doing promo for a new album that his album was whack and offer treatments for the video? And after that why not applaud Kanye the artist for simply smiling through the blatant disrespect from a simple critic? Dude is straight focused and has made his way, his way. At which point to we discontinue support for working harder than most ever will and being an individual? Let’s assume you are actually opposed to his behavior, why not offer solutions and example instead of more crabs in a bucket trolling for clicks?

    Chris Rock made a comment in an interview for “Blacklist” about how much more amazing, game changing, ground breaking work a black person has to do to afford the same lifestyle as an average white dentist. Articles and attitudes in the black community are a huge part of the problem. Why does Kanye have to shout? Because even the forum that is supposed to be “Celebrating Black Life and Culture” has nothing more to add than a most dismissive “That n!**er’s crazy”.

    1. I think you mis-read the main point of the piece, which was that Kanye is fighting against a racist hierarchy only insofar as it will allow him to become a part of it. The article doesn’t criticize his work ethic or call him crazy. Futhermore, the article acknowledges the obstacles that black people face in trying the succeed.

      If you think the black community is a bigger problem than institutionalized oppression and discrimination, then you’re really demonstrated how subversive racist hierarchies are. Herman Cain worked incredibly hard to become CEO of Godfather Pizza, and so do you think his work ethic should overshadow the fact that he serves as the mouthpiece for racist people who want to critize the black community? Would JAM be “trolling for clicks” if she points out that reinforcing power structures does not advance the black community? What the heck does Charlemagne have to do with Kanye believing that the Confederate flag is a cute fashion accessory?

      JAM is celebrating black life and culture by highlighting intellectual luminaries like WEB DuBois and Frantz Fanon. Furthermore, she’s not being dismissive when she points out that the black community has to have standards for itself. When we blindly support every charlatan purporting be a hardworking visionary, we end up with people like Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court.

  14. Good critique. I attended the Yeezus Tour here in Atlanta last night and it was a PHENOMENAL show. No matter the critique, he’s quite the entertainer. I have been a fan and supporter since his first album dropped, and I get what he is saying about the fashion industry. I also understand why Kanye rubs some people the wrong way. He’s passionate. He’s contradictory. He’s confident – extremely confident. And that bothers some. He’s easily agitated when he feels that people don’t hear or respect him. I get it. At the same time, I think that because he’s the ultimate self-hype-man he gets immediate crtique on the slightest issue or statement. He wants to be let “in” and feels that because he’s so influential and has the background/education to be “in” that he is being slighted. He definitely wants what “they” have because…well, because he should (his justification). Kanye’s goal of self-advancement is there; however, he would likely contribute to advancement for others should he succeed at getting “in”. Someone has to be the first, so why not him? I just wonder if we’re so conflicted with Kanye’s message because he’s “turnt up” about himself. One of the main differences between him and any other artist, entertainer, politician, etc. who wants to break the barriers for people of color and/or any group that is being denied is that he uses “I” more often than he uses “we” (although he does include the “we” when discussing breaking barriers but it seems to be drowned out by the rants). As a fan, I love his music. He really is (to me) a creative genius. As a educator and lover of social justice, I understand why he’s critiqued so much – but I also get him. While Kanye is obviously struggling with some inner conflict, buried in the rhetoric of “the fashion world needs me” is some truth regarding institutional and structural barriers for oppressed people in general. I hope we can wade through the perceived arrogance and take from his messages the social activism that has to be in his DNA via his father, former Black Panther Ray West and his mother, first African American chair of the English Department at Chicago State University, Donda West. It’s in there Kanye…we’re just waiting for the dust to settle.

    Thanks for posting.

    Oh yes…add Pastor Troy and MJG to the list of Black artists that have worn the Confederate flag. Each has explained the use of the flag much in the same manner as Kanye did. Not that I agree…but that’s the explanation.

  15. youre just bragging about reading franz fanon arent you… i dont listen to much kanye since the first few albums, but what is clear about commercial art, is that artists are the holders of capital, and the ones who engage means of production, and particularly in hip hop, present a product and service generally bound by something of a fanonian conversatoin… but …please…. you should have said what you really mean and cited fanons black skin white mask…

  16. Thanks for your article, I enjoyed reading it and appreciate the application of Fanon and DuBois to modern issues since it always feels like we are repeating history instead of learning from it. I wanted to share that the symbol commonly known as the swastika is sometimes called the Whirling Log in Indigenous culture and in some enclaves of American Indian communities it is still used in cultural weavings and in others hotly debated as to the purpose of having it used as a fashion statement to reclaim its original meaning. Much Appreciated, Sarita

  17. Wow! Wicked article! Very articulate and helped me put to words the faces I make when I watch him. Not raging or taking Kanye down a notch just that kind of awkward ‘feels’ you get when someone shoots themselves in the foot.

  18. I am very happy to read such a well thought out, well written article. Thank you very much. I hope to read more articles by Jessica Ann Mitchell

  19. Great article. You have managed to put into words exactly what I feel about Kanye. Damn I wish I wrote this article myself.

  20. This is America and basically one can do what s/he wants. And so be it Kanye. As far as a “table” goes…he needs some training from 50 Cents…he gets a “table.”

  21. I lost respect for him when he sampled Strange Fruit and added trivial and benign lyrics. I wrote it off as ignorance or sensationalism, based on this article I’d imagine it was the latter.

  22. This was really on point! I think you got Kanye just right. He’s a talented producer. No one can take that from him. But he’s way too narcissistic. He has an over inflated EGO. I think he truly wants to be accepted by the mainstream(white) media. Marrying Kim K?? Not my idea of the ideal woman. But their relationship seems fake to me. It looks like more of a career move rather than love. Kim also is an attention seeking woman who’s famous for a sex tape. I think they deserve each other.
    I don’t think Kanye really cares about black people. He only cares about himself. He says controversial things to create a buzz. It’s not like he’s Marcus Garvey or Malcolm X. He’s just a rapper who helps to reinforce a negative stereotype. Such as loud mouth materlistic black men that worship white standards of beauty. That’s not the type of image we as black men should be putting out there.

  23. Thank God for you, Jessica Ann Mitchell. This is from a person who is not religious at all. When I hear young intelligent people like you recognize the misdirection of so many young Black celebs I began to think there must be a God. So, thank you Lord! We are indeed blessed.

  24. Yes yes yes JAM! I was trying to explain everything you stated (so eloquently) to my friend who is a huge proponent of Kanye. Kanye rants about Chicago’s violence and the need for change but will drop $10 million to start a fashion label? Why don’t you give this (money) to help uplift your community instead of wasting YOUR FINANCIAL RESOURCES and time trying to fit in? A potential clothing line will not stop the violence plaguing Chicago inner streets and other similar communities. If fighting the system is so critical to Mr. West, one would think he would invest in prevention and intervention to save black boys and girls from the list of socio-economic hardships that stifle our growth in this county.

  25. You’re wasting valuable time as well as your considerable talent contemplating/explaining and inevitably validating the stream of disjointed nonsense from this brother. Part of any celebrity’s job is to remain relevant to his or her audience. Most do this through their art but many do this by creating noise and activity around themselves. That’s all he’s doing- filling time with garbage info designed to entertain and hopefully generate headlines. Only an idiot would wear clothing festooned with the confederate flag. He’s best left to his own devices. If you associate this ignorance with true intellectual thought (Fanon) you only legitimize it and in the process suggest to your readers that he deserves introspection. He does not. His politics are superfluous and
    child like and they don’t deserve to be debated by adults with a sense of self and a knowledge of American history.

    1. That’s true, N. Johnson. However, it is important to educate his ill-informed fans. This is obviously NOT a commentary targeted at Kanye. It would go way over his head.

  26. Nah, I wholeheartedly disagree. Now I’m no academic and can’t cite by resources in MLA format with a myriad of quotes from ancient philosophers or whatever but in my interpretation he’s being incredibly subversive. Not only to white america, but to black america as well. He’s drawing criticism from both sides and it makes one wonder, what is he really saying to ruffle so many feathers?

    He saying he wants ownership. Plain and simple. He doesn’t want a seat. He wants his own table. Not a rented one. Not endorsing someone else’s table. His own table, with seats reserved for his loved ones. Where he can create with freedom. Without having to constantly go through a “name” to get his vision out at the quality he requires

    I disagree that he’s envious. Envious of whom? White people? Please. He just doesn’t want them writing him his checks for the rest of his life. Moreover, if he’s anything like me, there’s probably a bit of contempt at the the fact that we are painfully aware of how many whites came to acquire their wealth, and why blacks are seemingly without. Not envy, contempt. We want what’s ours. Plain and simple.

    In regards to the flag, he’s shitting on it by wearing it. It’s classic appropriation. To put into context, it’s analogous to the song/title “Black Skinhead.” It’s a subversive use of two opposite social symbols to neutralize and create new ones. Above the Alabama state Capitol it’s a symbol of a racist past. On his back it’s a giant flying “fuck you” to racist white america. He’s literally taking white iconography and stamping his black face over the top of it. But black people are too in their racial past bandwagon feelings to actually process the importance of what Kanye just did. He went on YT central, the Ellen Degeneres show, to debut “Bound II,” and appropriated every iconic American trope and showed everybody just how corny it was, and like 5% of America got the joke. On the internets we call that a troll. This article is proof that people still don’t get it.

    In short, he’s doing some very subversive things while cloaking it in pop culture but very few people understand, and too many are voicing as if they do.

  27. Thanks for the insightful article about Kanye. I’m a bit curious about your choice of title, though, not so much as a criticism but for clarification. You call it a “Frantz Fanon Complex,” but you cite Wretched, written at a point in Fanon’s career in which he’d done away with the complex he so lucidly describes (a complex he could have been accused of wrestling with in Black Skin, White Masks). My question is whether or not you think Fanon remained “guilty” (loaded term) of this complex. If not, perhaps some clarification for some of your readers is necessary. Some might read your title and piece and walk away thinking that Kanye and Fanon share a complex that Fanon had done away with.

    Still, thank you for this succinct, conversation-generating post!

  28. Wow, I don’t even know where to begin with a response to this article, but praise to the author for drawing the likeness to Frantz Fanon’s colonized mind and W.E.B. Dubois double consciousness. First and foremost it’s a shame that after all the dollars I’ve spent, and almost a decade now of practicing psychology I wasn’t even aware that there were specific books authored by black psychiatrists providing a psychological perspective on the lasting effects of slavery and colonialism. With that said, I’m going to jump right into reading “Wretched of the Earth” with hope of adding that to my skill set.
    Now Brian, I know you’re not a fan of Kanye lol, or as you said couldn’t care less, but as a fan since the “Producer First, Pre College Dropout” days and tickets for Dec. 13th show I must retort on a few things. Que in the line from Kanye’s New Slaves:
    “They tryna lock niggas up, they trnya make new slaves, See that’s that privately owned prison get your piece today, They prolly all in the hamptons bragging bout what they made, fuck you and your Hampton house, I’ll fuck your Hampton spouse, came on her Hampton blouse and in her Hampton mouth” Which is then followed by “Y’all bout to turn shit up (one of the most overused phrases of 2013) I’m bout to tear shit down, I’m to air shit out, Now what the fuck they gon’ say now?”
    Now yes, I know you’re gonna say that’s only one line amongst all the misogyny, money, etc. but as a rapper ask yourself who else in “mainstream rap” is even rapping about privatized prisons and those profiting from jailing minorities. So yes, I think Frantz Fanon colonized mind reference is spot on, but Kanye’s continued passion for vehemently arguing who the “new slaves” are is only amplified by the success he’s reached on rapping about other issues and good times, and not necessarily the inability and envious displeasure of getting a seat at the table.
    On the subject of transforming hierarchical structures rather than unknowingly reinforcing them, it’s easy to pick on what on the surface would seem as support for the fashion brand Celine, when in reality dude’s just playing the game and the unfortunate sacrifice that goes along with playing by the rules of old money class for a larger prize. By larger prize, I’m referring to what he argued with Sway about during with his interview in that he wants to fill the whole in fashion for an African American to break through on a Ralph Lauren level, and not just another Karl Kani, Fubu, or Phat Farm. Speaking metaphorically and looking at “track records” (pun intended) check the symbolism in this video released in 2010 for the type of table in which Kanye envisions (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D55rDDvu3n4 ).
    Regarding the confederate flag, everyone’s entitled to their opinion on that and roots of oppression, but once again from what I read wearing this wasn’t about a laughing or fashion forward matter, but rather out of anger and passion like many of the other tracks on Yeezus as a statement of “I’m taking your flag, and all the power associated with it.” Going back and listening to the whole 30min interview with Sway and not just when things became heated, my take once again is he’s chosen to answer racism and upward mobility by any means necessary which will involve unfortunate sacrifices, such as playing by their rules, staying relevant, and generating income from producing, rapping, and touring. I get it; he can certainly be assertive and passionate at times but think about Kanye through Gestalt Psychology which looks at the whole person being a sum of its individual parts; This a guy who broke into producing as a kid, into rapping (2003-2004) and has stayed relevant when 50 Cent, Beanie Siegel, Memphis Bleek, Nelly, Ja Rule, Eminem, and Ludacris were supposed to takeover, all the while he gets to direct videos, design shoes, and get people listening to Common, Mos Def. However amongst all of this success against his mother the Dr.’s initial wishes who has encouraged him to go and stay in school passes following complications from an elective surgery she may have never had, had his career taken the direction of the beaten path. Honestly I think the change is coming, and this way bigger than just a seat at the table, designing some sneakers, and leather jogging pants.
    Miles

  29. Interesting text, dont care to think to much of what Kanye does or does not. I enjoy reading Fanon though. Also, it irritates the crap outta me to see how many so called black americans in the US always seem to think colonialism and slavery happened to them and only them. It happened to every native, mestizo, latino, asian call it what you wanna call it, to.

  30. I enjoyed reading your article and perspective. I think we can aptly extend your analysis beyond racism to overall class-ism in America. Folks of lower economic status often vote for and support those positions that are not in their best interest in an effort to preserve the status quo in case they do get a “place at the table” as you called it. Progress is not about making our own individual situations better but making our culture better in the collective. It is a shame that more people do not see it as you have. Well done article. Thanks!

  31. Sorry but I disagree I think that all the people who are upset with the system as it stands are in a way haters they want nice things, they would love for the race they come from to be in charge. They wish to be rich, famous and powerful and many people kill, steal and destroy to gain power or maintain it just like white folks did. Honestly I think that Kanye West represents what lots of people ‘s inner thoughts are but he actually speaks them. I bet the so called high and mighty writer of this article owns high fashion designer clothing and a nice foreign vehicle and wants to have more money and get power over more editors for the gain of her self not our people. I am also sure that like everyone she quoted in this masterpiece ( lol ) she got to the place she is in on the necks and backs of other White , Latino and or African American Writers …… people are so self righteous she is trashing a successful black young artist in the name of black conciousness to get a name for her self how niggerish of her!

      1. The sadness in not in the inaccuracy of the article but the response. I find nothing profound about any of the gibberish that so easily falls out of Kanye Wests mouth. Money and success does not necessarily make you great. Yes the man has attained “success” but what does he do with it? The pursuit of designer clothes is unfortunate because once again the man of color who wants to purchase a belt for $400 from a designer that is not affiliated or has nothing to do with your community is a fool. You enrich an entity far outside of your community and leave your backyard barren. Imagine these funds being used to purchase a $100 dollar belt from your local designer and additional funds to clothing designers, supermarkets, etc. that are owned by those who look like you and live in your neighborhood. imagine the economic impact in these communities and the automatic power and influence that would be enjoyed as opposed to purchasing $300 t-shirts from you over seers. Kanye west is wrong we are not all slaves only a few are and to them he is the quintessential overseer, he is given a place on the masters porch and then keeps the others in line by offering them the $300 t-shirt or the special edition sneakers. At the end of the day nothing has changed the money always comes back to the master because Kanye and those of his ilk are receiving a percentage from the master table but the masses are getting nothing in return.
        The constant cry of racism is ludicrous you give your wealth and thereby your power away and expect people to treat you with dignity. So sorry but for those of you who think he is some messiah sent from above to spread the good news you are sadly mistaken he is more like Stephen the Samuel Jackson character on Django. People wake up support you communities buy local empower the people you see on a regular day so they can grow Versace, Louis Vuitton etc. are not concerned about you.

      2. Accurate? How so? Kanye speaks your inner thoughts- really? You yearn for Europeans to acknowledge/ validate your presence and give you money and a contract to design overpriced clothing for your peers? Clothing the vast majority of them will never be able to afford. To what end?

        Real talk- Europeans designers have no use for Kanye or anything else brown or black. They’re not checking for Kanye just like white people in general are not checking for you. Their entire existence is based on maintaining an image of “beauty” that has never included Africans or any derivative thereof. They don’t need or want Black designers to create their clothes or Black models to wear them and those misguided souls who continue to bang on their doors are wasting their time and energy. Mainstream fashion culture is a gear in the machine of white supremacy, not Black uplift.

        Real talk- Kanye is signed to a label distributed by more Europeans. His success is based on the success of his art combined with his notoriety. In order to remain paid he must maintain the two things. Like many, his future can easily be upended by a handful of white men who will discard him when he fails to meet quotas. If he is as forward thinking and progressive as his fans on this board suggest then he should get out of his contract immediately, release his musical manifestos via the web, learn to sew and sketch and change the world through haberdashery.

        However, if that seems like too much work he should remain where he is and just keep denigrating the foolish white millionaires who refuse to avail themselves of his genius.

        They don’t mind the whining, as long as he’s making them money.

  32. This article is all bad and uses the wrong resources. In her rush to quickly gain more viewing after her Jay Z article, Jessica Anne Mitchell once again misses a great opportunity to explore the mind and value of the Black creative and entrepreneur. As with the Jay Z article, Mitchell is lazy and totally misrepresents Kanye’s mission, anguish and tactics. This kind of myopic evaluation is becoming a pandemic in blog culture, especially within black blog culture. We must be able to think better and deeper. The black community has so dumbed itself down that readers love this new kind of black bashing. The author and the stampede of likeminded commenters reflect new ignorance run amuck in cognitive dissonance. This article is not profound in any way and its disingenuousness is ultimately sadder than Kanye’s recent campaign. And Kanye is on a campaign. We in the black community have finally lost our ability to adequately look beyond our community, especially when it comes to self-actualization. This inner community marginalization is dangerous. Kanye is clearly not looking for a seat at any table. Kanye is looking for financial backing and supportive infrastructure to creatively define a new world view. Right or wrong, Kanye’s quest is to deconstruct and appropriate symbolism, all while holding a parallactic view of popular culture. So a proper evaluation of Kanye’s creative campaign moves far beyond, but also impacts race. Thus, Fanon and Dubois are not appropriate in the case of Kanye, the author would have had been more accurate if she reached for Nietzsche.

    “One must shed the bad taste of wanting to agree with many. “Good” is no longer good when one’s neighbor mouths it. And how should there be a “common good”! The term contradicts itself: whatever can be common always has little value. In the end it must be as it is and always has been: great things remain for the great, abysses for the profound, nuances and shudders for the refined, and, in brief, all that is rare for the rare.” –Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil

    1. yes….yes…we are so small-minded because we think that publicly whining about not being supported by large corporations (read: white institutions) and cosigned by historically eurocentric brands is a waste of time and antithetical to loving who you are as a human being who is classified as black.

      yes, we should all abandon trying to connect our fate with anyone we share a similar global plight with so that we can, to quote you, “adequately look beyond our community, especially when it comes to self-actualization.” To heck with social responsibility and respect for your ancestry! Go for SELF!

      and lastly, we have to stop, to quote you again, “this [dangerous] inner community marginalization” where we point out when anyone we once supported, prayed for, and rooted for has gone off the deep end. For shame!

      How dare we want anyone who cites the civil rights’ movement and its leaders to actually CONTRIBUTE to the cause he loves to reference. Common Good? Fuck that. I wish all of our grandmothers and grandfathers and ancestors had just looked out for self! We’d be much farther by now.

    2. As much as I love reading Nietzsche myself, at the end of the day, he was a socially isolated, mentally unhinged European man, who could afford to embrace extreme egocentricity and nihilism. As black people, our tradition of communal empowerment and cooperative social activism is greatly endangered my this cancerous, self-absorbed way of viewing the world. Here Nietzsche discusses the devaluation of the good once it becomes common, which is just another way of saying that the masses are ignorant, but sadly what could more common than the image of a black male celebrity who upholds, honors and respects white women who have been denigrated as whores by their own people, chases after money, attention and materialistic trappings, and is in love, at least on the surface, with himself. Stop the madness. And as great of a read as Nietzsche is, he was, as was well documented, absolutely insane!!!

  33. Think you reading of Fanon is accurate to a point, because I felt you should not stop there. In the other chapters where lays into essentially leadership, he provides the most useful lens for us to critically penetrate the fallacies. Kanye is easy, Jay Z is easy. Let’s up the ante and offer critique on an Obama, or a Michael Jordan, or public figure in black culture that are at times considered untouchable.
    I would like to say that Fanon’s first chapter is one of the most powerful chapters in diagnosing the White eyes on Black Bodies. thanks for sharing.

  34. i think you all give this kanye guy way too much credit, he wasn’t a genius because he said “George Bush hates black people”. He brought in race because it has always been a hot button. He was endowed with brilliance when clearly there was none perhaps one should have observed his demeanor and comportment as he made the statement. Kanye is getting everyone to talk about him so he can then go to various companies and claim some sort of influence. I think the article’s point about the colonized mind continues to play out today it seems we are always in search of a leader someone who will be our voice and we give anyone who speaks loud enough that title. We don’t evaluate the person but because they have a voice again the are endowed with faux brilliance.

  35. In one way or another most African Americans that have broken through poverty barriers with out dealing with prior trauma or other issues are still broken individuals. I agree with some that say that he has unresolved grief over the death of his mother in addition to anger issues. I don’t agree with a lot that Kanye West does or says because it is very obvious that he is a wounded human locating his place in American society. If someone put u or I under the microscope one would discover our brokenness that we have manage to disguise too. We have to be careful not to do more harm than good with our words and thoughts.

    1. Yes he is wounded. I have always said that since the death of his mother, the incident with the baby , and his wife to be Alexis leaving, was the cause for a lot of what we see today. However, this can’t be his crutch forever. He has the money and resources to get the help he needs but let’s be real on why he never did or has no intentions on doing that. He sold himself plain and simple. It amazes me when people try to skirt around the whole “selling your soul” thing and that in going that route or any route that requires you to sell you, a price has to be paid. He has no problem being a puppet because there seems to be no consequences for it. He married someone who is basically a female version of him and to me was meant to get with to be a part of the abundance of ignorance then had the nerve to breed. Let’s face it he is a far cry from what he used to be and his evolution is in serious trouble but he sealed the deal of that fate the moment he made his decision. Of course most of his fans especially in today’s time has no problem with ANYTHING he does because it’s the very things that are praised. Some have a love/hate thing with him because it’s hard to accept that this is who he is now but knows he had/has so much more to him. He has so much status and so many drones that he can make some sense and be ignorant all at the same time. I’m not saying that some of the old Kanye is completely gone but it definitely has taken a backseat to what we see today. I once said that it isn’t what he is trying to say, but his delivery is weak. He sounds more like a three year old who was told he can’t have a bag of skittles at the store. Now as much as I can’t stand how he is today I can’t also say there’s not some type of genius. There’s a difference playing into the politics a little because in some ways you may have to in order to achieve a greater end game and playing into because it benefits you and only you. He’s okay ranting about the issues because it’s not his intent to fix them for everyone else, just himself. Believe me though the day he no longer has that luxury is the day we will see a different Kanye but most likely it’ll be him whining like a brat that just went broke as opposed to the rapper who used to be broke.

    1. What a great article! U couldnt of been more right. Thank u for the insight. This is sad. Kanye is a sell out like many other musicians. They sold there soul to the devil for fame. He can care less about racism. He actually is promoting it.

    2. “making his own way” would align with the idea that integration is not necessary, the system doesn’t need to be changed, and separation is the answer.

      1. Yup. America teaches “Rugged Individualism”, while practicing collectivism (familyhood). Negroes try to practice individualism, and when they fail, scream RACISM!, not even knowing what is, nor what kind.

  36. I’ve been trying to articulate this Kanye situation over…and over…and over again, but you make my attempts look pathetic. Charlamange and Sway have done an awesome job with articulating what’s going on in Kanye’s head, but you offered an awesome synthesis of them both and added your accurate flair. Nice work.

  37. If the world is run by these people, how do you change it unless you are at the table? We can talk about making your own label and doing your own thing but that does not change the system. The ability to create a large level will always be marginalized unless you are at the table. We can say do it on your own all you want, but that doesn’t translate the same way getting to the table does.

    1. Because when you sit at their table you have eat what is served and it changes you, because it’s poison. Barrack Obama is only the leader of white racist society and has to serve them as well. What we need a Black man to do that for is beyond me.

      1. I have to agree with Thinker and ‘Ye on this one. Since when did you have to eat what others are eating at the table? When you’re at the table you tell the chef what you want. Kanye has always ruffled feathers and once at the table you think he’d stop there and “go along with the flow”? I think not.

      2. When will the discussion of black and white end?
        There are people either with integrity or without.
        Before there were cars there were horses, most still had th walk.
        Successful people should remember their roots……choose to make a difference.

    2. Yes, intended for Thinkers comment.

      In order to make change in this scenario of course you have to make your way to the table. Once Kanye arrives at this place he then plans to “change” the way things work. The same motivation that has pushed him to this point will continue him forward to the latter.

      The issue everyone has with Kanye is trying to make sense of what he is saying. He doesn’t communicate his thoughts clear. Nor should you expect him to some artist do there explaining with through craft.

    3. Set your own table and invite the guests that you want to attend. He has the ability and funding to do just that so he doesn’t truly want change if he just wants to join them.

      1. Exactly …..the idea that we need be at their table is foolish……As African cans we once had our own grocery stores and other business….we have allowed oursleves to become so assimilated into this culture that we have actually lost all the economic freedom we once had…..Kanye is in a postion to do his own thing without the help of those who are keeping him out and who he seems to be yelling at or begging to let him in. Know your history bruh we gave them all that…..Start your own clothing line….hire your own designers and models…use the platform you have been given to promote your clothing company and grow your business to be a major competitor and let them come beeging you to sit at the table

      2. you guys keep talking in metaphors.. about tables and seats and food and you’re skipping over details. many black people have started clothing lines and will continue to, making money selling t-shirts, sweatshirts, and jeans. kanye was speaking very specifically about trying to make quality luxury clothing and being priced out as far as the cost of materials which left him incapable of creating profit margins. the old boy system in fashion is real and kanye finds it racist that he is being relegated to walking advertisement when he feels that he’s an innovator. now you can debate whether you agree with that or not, but all this “table” talk is just empty rhetoric.

    4. Start a new table. Most people in this world are people of color. However, colonized American thinking has the whole world on the Western standard. What if there was another standard? The Western ruling class are masters at taking the ideas of others and repackaging them as the standard in every industry. Stop selling out, lower the ego(s), join forces, and create an alternative. Who cares if it doesn’t “translate.” If Kanye or anyone else is truly as influential as they think they are then maybe they can create a large enough table for his ego and his pockets.

      1. What he really wants is acceptance at that table so he can look down & say hey im the jordan of fashion etc. Motives are self serving & not about black. I blind fool could see

      2. Kanye is a sick man in need of medication, at least Jay Z is intelligent, but in my opinion neither have any real musical talent. Kanye only says what he does to remain relevant. The man sold T-shirts worth about 25cents for $100.00 knowing that people who cannot afford them would buy them thus causing them to sink deeper into bondage, and somebody thinks that he is against racism.

    5. I respectfully disagree with you. I can think of a number of pioneers in various industries that did not sit at a table but were able to create something on ” a large level”. For true innovation to take wings, it only requires the approval of those to which the innovation was created. A few people that come to mind: Steve Jobs, Prince, Russell Simmons (Def Jam Records), Bill Gates, Frank Zappa, Nikola Tesla, and I’m sure there are many more. These people created something where there was nothing, then allowed the consumer to decide whether they are relevant or not. I believe Sways argument to Kanye was, why not let your ideas, your brand, your concepts, all fly on their own merit, independent of the approval of others and see if you can gain the audience to consume your vision. What’s the quote from Field Of Dreams? “If you make it, they will come.”

      1. Touché!!!!!! He wants white status and recognition..acceptance from people who still look down on us..who still dont respect for our many talents…who steal and re create these innovations such as hip hop..and in kanyes case leather sweatpants…had he ran with 1st insticncts on being a real trendsetter he would have created a buzz for something that he was the innovator of..so since he wanted LV or GUCCI..whomever, to co- sign his innovation..he missed the bus and now every other designer is capitoizing off of an idea that he claims to be his..priorities are totally mixed up. I can go on and on about this dude but you guys are covering alotof my feelings..and facts.

  38. Perhaps someone can now explain why Kanye has chosen to use a white Jesus in his show which is currently touring. Although brilliant at times, the young brother is confused!

    1. if he uses any “Jesus” it would be sacrilegious. Choosing a “white Jesus” is not supporting the concept, but instead empowering “black Jesus” by not including him in his show.

    2. Because Kanye, through his Yeezus promotions, has appropriated some of the most pervasive forms of white American iconography and put his black Kanye face all over it. Think about it, white Jesus, Confederate flag, Galloping stallions/those windows xp frontier shots/eagles/motorcycles/impregnating then marrying arguably one the most beautiful women in pop culture then putting on said motorcycle in the Bound 2 video, giving it thee most corny treatment and debuting it on the Ellen Degeneres show. He’s literally shitting on everything white america loves. Naming one song “Black Skinhead.” Then another “I am a God.” Then in new slaves raps about the relationship between the DEA and the Corrections Corporation of America and vows to ejaculate on their spouses in vengeance for their collusion.

      It’s incredibly subversive and he’s far from confused. His clarity in execution is nearly flawless.

    3. if you’ve seen the show, you’d notice that he refers to the ‘jesus’ as ‘white jesus’ in a very irreverent way. the choice is deliberate and ironic. and it makes perfect sense to use the most common representation of jesus.

  39. i’m so impressed. i actually called one of my mentors late one night saying ‘you know maybe if you would mentor manye… maybe he’d realize that he can do it. and he can do it without the europeans.’ i came up with a whole business plan for philadelphian elders to hold kanye a space in fashion and create a youth production house, and a design studio… smh. thanks for saying, reflecting. i love him still. i know it’s not easy to be in his position.

  40. The only words that came to mind watching and hearing Kanye’s rants were he’s confused and in pain!!! I think his mother kept him grounded and sane. Since her death the changes obviously are significant, to say the least. I will pray for the young brother and hope his mother spirit touches him and brings him back to reality.

    1. I was just saying how detrimental his Mother’s death was to him. The Brother is obviously intelligent, just needs more focus and support from the right type of people.

  41. Here’s what happened since rap and hip hop first gained the attention of the public eye (mainly focusing on the youth):

    Step 1, Glorify what we already have through heart felt, emotional lyrics, positive or negative. This includes promoting clothing trends to allow for something easily obtainable in low income neighborhoods “over sized clothes that can be acquired via charity, or even from an older sibling “. This also includes sex, drugs, and violence.

    Step 2, bad mouth all existing high fashion lines aimed at the teenage public that don’t fit the above description. Promote sex and lack of inhibition. Make drugs easily available to the masses “Corrupt the kids”

    Step 3, promote stereotypes based on genres of music and what the typical listener would wear via internet and Hollywood. Promote “RX prescription drugs” to diminish the boundaries between “acceptable” an “illegal” Promote violence and discredit the judicial system. Discredit the news channels. Destroy the morals and values set forth by our America’s founding fathers. Discredit existing religions.

    Step 4, promote specific designer lines, different from the main stream fashion that was previously devalued. Push for decriminalization of illegal drugs, and publicize overdose and misuse of legal RX drugs. Promote new values including sex, anarchy, new religion, new definitions of previously existing words. Encourage people to view and indulge in “non-book” forms of entertainment.

    Step 5, Generate new genre’s o music that combine and mix genres, allowing for mix between age, religions, sexuality, fashion, religion, etc…Promote wide scale acceptance and glorify everything America’s founding fathers would abhor. Bombard the public with choices between “wrong” and “also wrong” so that the youth unknowingly chooses a “wrong” and deems it “right”.

    INTERNET, allows for computers to replace the books that would otherwise speak the past. Blogs social media networks redefine words and create new words because the “dictionary” or “google” shows that “this is the answer most commonly accepted by people as the truth.” Sex can be views, purchased, and facilitated through specific “underground” websites. Drug paraphernalia can be easily obtained along with a set of instructions to manufacture drugs from household items…

    Rap is no longer mainstream, but instead mainstream is rap “the culture, not the genre”. Kanye is the god of the new religion. He is married to a lady known for a public sex-tape, and she represents the “not so virgin Mary”. Monogamy is replaced with polygamy. Weed is easily accessibly and highly accepted.

    What role does alcohol play? reduces inhibitions, increases libido, and most importantly encourage everybody to get through the “previously productive work week” just to get a chance to “party” and indulge in the new carefree world.. Oh and allow Kanye to keep us all stupid and willing to pay way too much for the same Nike shoes that Nike’s people said were no lnger marketable.

    1. Seriously?!

      I can’t, no I won’t even begin to explain how problematic it is attempt to apply this slippery slope of moral doom to an art for created by historically, structurally and institutionally disenfranchised peoples.

      At best “Hip hop reminded us of confidence” at worst it mirrors the white patriarchal structure of America as a whole thus illustrating how pervasive and ugly it’s presence truly is.

  42. I think that one of the most beautiful things about this country is having the ability to express an opinion no matter how unpopular that opinion may be. I do not agree with everything Kanye has said or all of his actions. However I aware enough to see it for what it is. It seems to be appropriate to say that Mr. West is upset because he doesn’t have a seat at the table. I think he has a right to want to achieve that if it is his goal. As consumers we have the right not to buy anything we feel is a detriment to our culture, or anything that represents us in a negative light. It seems to me that the brother is surrounded by yes men, people that are afraid to tell him the truth. Unfortunately this is what consumers respond to controversy and negativity. If you want to see a change in how we are represented stop supporting it with sound bites, and spending money. In the entertainment business any press is good press, it all just helps to boast a brand that people love to complain about, and can’t stop talking about.

    1. Of course he deserves a seat at the table – double consciousness or not. I think his interviewers (Charlemagne and Sway) haven’t reached his level of monetary and creative success, and don’t have similar aspirations, so they can’t relate to his ideas in a sense. And I think this article furthers the overall mission/ media agenda to discredit him as an egostistical, crazy person. No. If he breaks through the glass ceiling – in whichever industry he chooses, he paves the way for other black men and women. His thinking outside the box paves the way for others to do do. Why not? That’s bigger than hiring black models. I hope he wins at his goals and continues to create what HE wants to.

    1. Yes. So brilliant. Everybody go home now. Jacqueline has the answers. It’s Jesus everybody. You hear? No more comments. The answer is Jesus. Because Kanye doesn’t have Jesus as implicated in Jacqueline’s comment. Does anybody have Jesus? Because Kanye needs him. Does anybody have the number to the main line, I heard Jesus is always there. Perhaps this information could facilitate Kanye finding Jesus. Because it’s clear now, as indicated by Jacqueline’s brilliant comment, that Kanye needs him.

  43. I do agree with your article on many levels although one issue you brought up could actually been seen as a slightly positive thing. Kanye ‘s wearing of the Confederate Flag is a step that we as African Americans should take. If the history of the flag itself may be seen as something hurtful and represent fear, then why not wear it to neutralize such an effect. If all black people were to suddenly start wearing the flag, on clothing and flying it ourselves, we as a people would change the meaning behind it and it would no longer have such a hold on us. Many people today are against the flag but don’t even really have a full grasp of what it represented. We cant change history, the fact is that the flag will always exist and that there will always be groups of people who are against our race. But this will send a message to the community of people who claim not to be racist or malicious in any way when choosing to fly the flag, it will show them we too existed during the time of this flag and therefore own it as much as anyone else. Why not make the flag stand for something much more. Then the hillbilly backwards thinking people who support it will have to come up with a new way to show their ignorance.

    1. I like your thinking. ^^ A problem I foresee, on the other hand, is other races using the “N” word to “neutralize” it. Know what I mean?

    2. @Yasmeen
      Appropriation requires power, influence and control. Erasing or revising history requires the same. Ignorant whites who claim the flag as a symbol of their heritage do so with the understanding that by “heritage” they mean ownership and subjugation of Africans. You and every Black person you know could show up at work in a confederate flag jumpsuit every day of the year and you’d never make a dent in their mindset because you cannot muster the institutional clout to revise history.

      However you can counteract their ignorance with your own symbols and cultural signs. That’s what Afros, clenched fists and the phrase “Black Power” did. They were cultural signifiers that existed without the approval or permission of white people. They existed separate from white culture and caused consternation within American society. Why? Because they were self affirming generators of pride and community. That’s also what hip hop promised early on- until it was appropriated. That’s what R&B promised as well until it was watered down and infiltrated. White men own the institutions that present / distribute this art form so it was easily appropriated and repackaged leading us to believe that Justin Timberlake, Eminem, Macklemore and Miley Cyrus are the most capable representatives.

      The confederate flag is not your symbol. The word nigger is not your word. You can’t “control” them because you can’t control the mindset that created them. Who cares if a white man who controls the institutions that shape your life FLIES a flag or SAYS a demeaning word? What is important is what he THINKS about you and how his perception manifests socially. If he refrains from saying nigger in your presence but treats you like one- what have you won? Likewise, if you wear a $200 dollar t shirt purchased from the descendants of your enslavers with the symbol of your dehumanization on it what message are you sending and what battle are you fighting?

      Stated plainly- the flying of a flag represents allegiance to the ideas represented by that flag- not a disdain for what the flag represents.

      1. Nah. The Nazi swastika is an Eastern spiritual symbol associated with nothing involving genocide or war. Hitler appropriated it and now, socially, it means something completely contrary.

        Symbols are malleable, plain and simple and can be appropriated and re-appropriated ad infinitum. Of course, with each appropriation, it becomes further removed from the truth which ironically, is what has lead us to this juncture.

      2. @smn|phx
        Re your post about Hitler appropriating the swastika. Respectfully, you’ve missed the major point of my post- it’s the very first line.

        “Appropriation requires power, influence and control. ”

        When we possess these attributes we’ll be able to reassign and appropriate symbols. Until then we’d be better off creating our own.

      3. I read that. I agree and disagree. Yes power is required, however, every group has power. Power is not a finite resource, it is fluid and circular.

        “power is diffuse rather than concentrated, embodied and enacted rather than possessed, discursive rather than purely coercive, and constitutes agents rather than being deployed by them…”

  44. Hip Hop has always been about flipping the script – and cultural symbols are a part of that. Only someone with Kanye’s cultural influence could attempt to co-opt a symbol such as the Confederate flag in the popular mind. So this is Kanye expressing the spirit of Hip Hop in a way that he is uniquely suited and positioned to do. I respect those who disagree with it and who are uncomfortable with it. To be honest I’m a little uncomfortable with it myself. But since when has Hip Hop ever been in-step with “African-American History”? Only in retrospect.

    1. Jessica, you must’ve completely missed the 80’s & 90’s hip-hop scene. Kurtis Blow, Run DMC, KRS1, Public Enemy, Arrested Development and even NWA, NOT only were in-step with AA history but they helped create it along the way as well. They were storytellers about what they saw in the AA community. So how can that NOT be, “in-step?”

      Kanye was an innovator with his music and he should take a look back to remember how he made it to the top. It wasn’t by demanding anything but by hard work and proving that he’s worthy of being given a shot. Heck, now he’s got enough money that he should set his own table and send out his own invitations. Personally, he’s nothing but a clown these days, searching for any way possible to stay relevant.

      1. Yes, stay relevant! I guess you’re a fan? His music is NOWHERE near as innovative and raw as it was when he started. He’s a, “headline grabber” to the nth degree. Complains about the spotlight but is always seeking it. Complains about racism but does things to promote/incite it, not curb it. Please enjoy that concert, I know he won’t get another one of my dollars for his music because he’s become a clown these days.

        P.S. Terry, I personally witnessed Master P getting, “blown” by two white women, so just because he didn’t have one on his arm in public, doesn’t mean he didn’t go there.

      2. You are simultaneously right and wrong. Yes, he wants to stay relevant, because that is what empowers him to evoke change. However, this is not his effort to stay relevant. This is his effort to move beyond needing to be relevant to evoke change.

      3. “Hip hop has never been in step with anything except crime, violence, and drugs”… U gotta be freaking kidding me…smn|phx is absolutely insane for that statement. Thank you for pointing out great artist who empowered,uplifted and entertained in a positive manner. I love hip hop and refuse to let that slide..im truly appalled but truly thankful that ppl such as yourself know the truth and haven’t forgotten the roots of the culture that i live for.

        Lauryn hill …that thing
        Queen latifah..U.N.I.T.Y
        Everyone on self destruction..self destruction
        Kid n play… aint gon hurt nobody
        Bone thugs..crossroads
        Gangstarr…just to get a rep
        LudA..runaway love
        Jah rule…rainy days
        Nas ….i know i can…just to name a few…crime violence and drugs…FOH!!!!!! Pure ignorance at its best!

        Im livid….foolish comments like smn|phx’s contribute to why hip hop is judged..kanye is part of a major problem in hip hop. He still wants white status and approval and wont stop until reaches his delusional goal of sitting at the table. Sadly we will continue to consume and support brands that get together and “celebrate Africa” by stylishly arriving in blackface (D and G)….no black models..celebrate in blackface..harass you while shop for ridiculously priced items in barneys..THEY DONT LIKE US! THEY DONT WANT US IN THEIR CREATIONS.. LET ALONE AT THEIR TABLE! OUR BLACK DOLLARS MEAN NOTHINGGGGG TO THEM..Kanye amongst many other rappers are poisoning a very unenlightened youth who cares less about anything worthy of intelligence..all they care about is yeezuS dropping yeezys for 300 or whatever the ridiculous price….uggggh sorry i ended up ranting ..but this here..this here is a topic that i am passionate about…

    2. Hip hop has never been in step with anything except crime, violence, and drugs. I appreciate the ones who keep it real, and are not owned by the big corps like Master P. He also gives to the community, and doesn’t think he has to have a white woman to fit in. So your point is?

      1. Terry, I humbly disagree. Hip hop’s association with crime, violence, and drugs changed in the late 1980’s with N.W.A. and The Getto Boys. Before the “gangster rap” era you would be hard pressed to find any artist promoting violence of any type. The real question is why is this culture of crime and violence the only thing that’s promoted? I say follow the money…….

      2. Terry, where were you in the early days of hip hop. Rapping was a lot more conscious and positive back then. Even when it wasn’t positive, Rappers spoke about their experiences and what they saw, but not everyone rapped about violence and drugs EVEN THOUGH the black community was being ravaged by the crack and then AIDS epidemic.

      3. I mentioned the wrong person in my comment above responding back to SeanDMan67.. I was stating my thoughts on your comment about hip hop not being in step with anything except crime violence and drugs…I’m saddened by that comment..as if HIP HOP didn’t come from a good place…yes your statement is very relevant …for todays tainted remains of what we call hip hop ,but come on..to categorize a whole culture that has done so much for people all around the world…POSITIVE THINGS..

  45. I think Kanye got what so many people in the Black community get when they speak about what others are thinking and feeling. Crickets chirping in and no support. When he said that GB didn’t care about Black people, everyone was trying to get as far away from him as possible. I’ve had the unfortunate experience of speaking up for a groupofpeople who all had the same concerns but when it came time to address them collectively everything was fine and I was flabbergasted. So now I stand up for what I believe in and when they have a problem they have to address it themselves. Only a idiot would stick their neck out twice for folks that’s not willing to stand beside them when they get the ball rolling.

    1. Nah. you gotta do it anyway. Kanye has actually addressed this in saying that, and I’m paraphrasing here, “even people who don’t understand what I’m saying, or support me will still benefit from what I’m trying to accomplish.”

  46. I was just talking about this topic tonight. It seems celebrities like him and Lauryn Hill like to “call wolf” and often it just ends up nullifying racism that really happens in the eyes of people who don’t see it but only hear these comments made by “important people.” I really enjoyed this article; btw, I’m white.

    1. What constitutes having an ‘experience’? Seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, and/or smelling. I can not believe that a soul who has not ‘experienced’ racism exists. Everybody sees it. Simply put, it is everywhere. Some just choose to ignore it because they believe that it isn’t ‘happening’ to them. They don’t realize that it is in fact ‘happening’ to them because they are a part of the entire experience.

      I also enjoyed this article; btw, I’m black.

    2. I think that you missed the writer’s point and misinterpreted some things. I’d venture that she’s not saying that he’s crying wolf, but suggesting that he redirect his focus.

      Also, those who do mislabel problematic thoughts and actions as racist cannot “nullify” the system that is properly labeled racist. They can only distract and confuse .

  47. Here is my whole problem with Kanye, as smart as he allegedly is, and as talented of a singer and producer he is, why does he still spout of ignorance? From the Taylor Swift incident, until now? Some of the comments above, I respect where they are coming from, but to say “more black people should wear the confederate flag, to hopefully numb the pain..” … how shall I put it, I understand the sentiment, but if I were to say allow white people to use the -ga version of the no no word, and only allow the -er version be used as a hate crime, I would be all for it, but I think both sides of this would disagree vehemently. Generations of young white kids to teenagers starting in the late 80’s and all through the 90’s got used to calling each other the -ga version of the word, and still do. Yet unless you have some “Dr Dre Rules” in effect with your black friends, it’s a true game breaker even if you are singing along to the music that is playing. Yet, as white males we have to endure every black comedian calling us crispity crackity crackas, rednecks, etc. … but even if we mean it in the friendly way a white person says “dude, man, or bro..”, we use -ga even if there was no reason to take it the wrong way, it’s taken the wrong way.
    When a man, who is talented, no matter his race, uses race as his very being in today’s age, it’s ignorant and selfish and self serving. Especially when they are a mutli millionaire and hang out with their respective worlds elite, ala Jay-Z and Beyonce.

    I am sorry, but most of my best and most loyal friends and confidants over the years have been black/african-american and I just don’t see color unless it’s brought to my attention. And Kanye, the man has issues beyond what us normal Americans can comprehend.

    1. Captiain, you missed the whole point of his comment, they only thing you saw was color. Open your eyes and read it again!!

  48. mmmmn … as one who was in the fashion industry and had an inside seat into that world … it is run with a very tight, rigid hand and is not the industry to go into for fun and games… higher stakes than the art world and I think because Kanye is so often misunderstood – cuz like most Black folks he cannot articulate himself as well as we would like him to – he is also misunderstood… I know where he is coming from but I do not stand behind any of this public outing and continual bashing of Black people everyday in this new social media age where any and all things can go viral… Spike Lee vs. Tyler Perry, incites a racist tweet to send blacks to the wrong address to kill George Zimmerman and is now having to sell property to pay the couple off. Harry Belafonte vs JayZ and vice versa, Pebble vs TLC, Mariah vs Niki, Russel Simmons vs Harriet Tubman and this lady here … How about focusing all this energy on making jobs and creating something tangible people – we the people who do not have millions of dollars can touch!!! These folks are supposed to represent the talented 10th and we know that ish doesn’t work and never has if the people do not build and sustain an infrastructure for others to continue to build on. Like say Magic Johnson does but his wife created a jeans line with the help of a rich and famous white male fashion insider – a line too expensive for poor folks to buy… So they go try to steal them… Too many well to do about nothing and if that is what they want to be about – so let them but why hate on those who most would change places with in a heart beat and turn around and do the same… This sista included!!! 😉 just a thought loll

  49. Unfortunately there is a lot of narrow minded views or opinions being provided here and a lot of this is purely based on our upbringing, how we was taught to think about people, different people other than ourselves. Its a shame how we fail to fully grasp the bigger picture. Just like its a shame Kanye is unable to clearly get his points across in a manner that is less chaotic.

    The guy has aspirations, dreams and a lot of confidence, where is his support? Doing it on his own is a fools errand, we say this because we don’t understand the industry that goes behind the fashion we see, along with many other things in life that we take for granted.

    One thing you got to hand to him is he is honest about his place in life and where he is and where he wants to go.

  50. This article makes for a very good read but gives Kanye way too much credit. I don’t understand when he was put on a pedestal as a spokes person against black people issues? His is just a point of view not facts, unfortunately for all the “revolutionaries” his point of view has changed. lets move on

  51. Was the confederate flag created to promote slavery/racism, or to promote southern secession and pride? That pride of course included holding slavery. But can we stop acting like its the south that was racist and not the North, and pretend if we kill this flag we kill racism? Blacks weren’t exactly welcomed with open arms as soon as they moved North. The people were just as racist, they just didn’t profit from slavery as the southern elites did. To many who bare the flag today, it is a representation of southern pride, not necessarily racism/bringing back slavery. It really is no different than baring the actual American Flag, because under that flag too (with its previous versions) could also be considered a symbol of historic racism.

  52. Great article. It is the inability, not of the society to accept us, but to get us to understand our creativity and ability to build society. He is looking for approval he does not need. No need to eat at the king of this worlds table when a table has been prepared for you by your Father

  53. Great job, really, a fine piece of writing! Kanye, Jay-Z (and his wife Beyoncé), and Russell Simmons are only the tip of the iceberg, very visible to be sure, but they are leading an ignorant army of (mostly) men who would promulgate this bullshit in their ignorance and greed. Their choices to ignore and participate in continuing institutional/ structural racism and in fact to become pushers of a different dope, is all the more insidious because of it’s economic disempowerment despite the marketing message. This is what I see as the downfall of hip-hop. It is a soul-less genre with no positive messages anymore, certainly not with the likes of XXL, and images of scantily clad black women being paraded around an awards stage watched by millions with dog-collars on a leash to the song, “It’s Hard Out Here for A Pimp,” and Drake’s “Best I Ever Had” among the legions of others with their barely understood denigrating recitative or the simplest melody sung ad nauseam that passes for ‘music.’ I have no interest in helping that machine and wish that more people were truly aware.

  54. For all of the education Mr. West has acquired both formal and informal his lack of clarity on racism/white supremacy will be his downfall if not corrected. Neely Fuller and Dr. Frances Cress Welsing should be on his Christmas book list.

  55. WHO TF cares what this conceited ignorant racist loser has to say?
    His “music” is awful, his attitude is nasty, his self-image is far from his
    actual useless reality. No wonder he is so into fashion. It’s the Emperor’s New Clothes-syndrome.
    As long as his paid minions are terrified to disagree, he is fine.

    Sounds oddly familiar (Obama).

    1. One of the main reasons the Fashion Community did not accept Kanye, as they have done other celebrities and their essays into high end clothing lines, like P Diddy’s Sean John (at its peak), or Victoria Beckham or the Olson Twins’ The Row is because the collection was shite.

      Not because of racism. People were excited to see the collection. And editors were kind in their initial appraisals, as to encourage him. He chose to present his collection in BIG way, with lots of hype, and ultimately there was no there there. He would have been better to have started with a small collection, worked to build an actual consumer base for his collection, as the Olsons have done, and not just hoped he could sell silly fur pieces based on his name and record sales, and solidify relationships with retailers.

      This was not the case. And now we have to hear that racism felled his business. Not exactly.

  56. To be honest, I feel like most of people’s issue with Kanye is his lack of tact. He approaches things in a way that turns people off which is understandable…but he’s right. I feel like people are encouraging him to lower his expectations and his goals. He’s much done the ground up portion…he’s got his tour merchandise in Pac Sun he’s got the adidas deal. To really make an impact you do need a seat at the table…somebody has to help you out and give you support to do things on a grand scale. Fashion is an industry that requires a lot of physical labor and material. It’s not like music you need major capital and backing. It’s like trying to start your own steel company or trying to get into home computers after ibm, microsoft, and apple. You need some sort of backing from the old guard.

  57. Jessica, I am a fan. I am not a fan because you are black. I would be a fan in spite of the color of your skin. I am a fan because you are worth my time. I am a fan because when I read your work, I am instantly engaged; I am instantly stirred to respond emotionally, passionately, and intelligently. I am a fan because you lend me time to think, and I can borrow thoughts from you and those you admire; and I can share my owe thoughts. You stop being you—you stop inspiring me to respond, and I am gone. Yes, and you can’t stop being black, and still, I would be gone. In other words, you are insisting that Kanye stop being Kanye in his present presence of mind. How is that at all possible, black or not?

    Because Kanye is black, he is not by any measure or balance entitled to be a beacon of black liberation above self-economical-liberation—by whatever measures and balances he recognizes, understands, and accepts. While it is not your intention, I sense that you’re inadvertently doing to Kanye the very same thing that many others have done to us in our strides to claim relevance and/or reverence—setting standards by which we can only fail, because we are different and we are the same: limited by what we recognize, understand, and accept about ourselves—our strengths, weaknesses, abilities, and that distant reasoning to change that comes to many owned by the sincerity of greatness, in spite of obstacles.

    Remember Malcolm X, he started by responding to his pain and then limitations, by hating the oppressors skin color and inevitable power over everything.

    Malcolm X: “I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it is for or against. I’m a human being, first and foremost, and as such I’m for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.”

    “We cannot think of being acceptable to others until we have first proven acceptable to ourselves.”

    “Why am I as I am? To understand that of any person, his whole life, from
    Birth must be reviewed. All of our experiences fuse into our personality. Everything that ever happened to us is an ingredient.”

    Jessica, I know change; it is not easy; it is not instant; and one should never allow their change to be measured and balanced by others. Change is measured by he who seeks to know change. And when change is earned via individual ownership, it becomes a constant stay-of-being: thoughts-to-words and words-to-actions—it becomes overt. Kanye has earned economical change, we can only hope that he earns freedom.

    “Hence I have no mercy or compassion in me for a society that will crush people, and then penalize them for not being able to stand up under the weight.” – Malcolm X

  58. I don’t think a “systematic glass ceiling” or Kanye’s being categorized as “urban,” is keeping him from being accepted and making an impact in the fashion world. If that was the case Marc Ecko, Puff Daddy and Jay Z would never have made it in the fashion world. I think his arrogance is holding him back. Just because your on top in the music industry doesn’t mean you can walk into the fashion world and start off on top. You have people in that world, just like the hip-hop world, who have spent a lot of time and hard work to get to the top, so of course your not going to be accepted simply because you have a well known name in another space. Like every other industry you need to pay dues before your taken seriously, before people put their reputation on the line for supporting you. Sometimes you have to start off on the bottom and work your way up, regardless of how much success you have hand in another field. Instead of leather sweatpants he might need to start silk screening some t shirts in his garage. I don’t know Kanye personally but I would go out on a limb and say that he probably thinks he is above that. To write off his nonacceptance in the fashion world as the result of a racist “old money class” is a lazy argument.

  59. I’m not sure why Kanye doesn’t look to link up and fund/partner with some up and coming designers. This seems to be a way to “Backdoor” into the fashion industry. If the European/Caucasian powers that be don’t want to work with you directly start your own thing. They’ll come knocking eventually. Then you really make them pay!!!!

  60. In the end Kanye West (and Jay-Z) are nothing more than creative capitalists … their concern is not the exploitation of Black people or the effects of racism … their concern is only expanding and exploiting their markets.

    1. That doesn’t make any sense. Kanye West is an artist. At the end of the day he is all about promoting his image and brand. So everything this man says or do is marketing. Talking about racism is appealing because he is voicing the concerns that many people feel. On the flip side I am wary of his motives. As Charlamagne points out, Kanye is a walking contradiction. He talks down corporations, yet he is going to them and trying to mold his own. So there is exploitation of blacks when you are rapping about New Slaves but you aren’t walking your talk.

  61. I think this writer is confusing Kanye’s genuine concern with the need for ego stroking we ALL HAVE. We all want OUR THOUGHTS heard.
    The writer cant disagree, mainly because SHE WRITES A BLOG….

    Note she didnt describe when and how he crossed from activist to me-avist.

    Growing up around Pill Hill Chicago, those of us who fist considered ourselves “conscious” rode the middle road between righteousness and prosperity when properly in tune with Self
    We disagreed with injustice done in the name of gain , not a person’s Benz itself.
    It’s not Kanye’s fault that mankind is greedy and always has been and will be. Yet I dont see him promoting foolishness, just nice things.
    It hurts my heart to see people accuse famous folks of supporting materialism when the simple truth is we all want “nice things” and would buy them if possible.

    Just some thoughts.

  62. @Spiral – WOW, I HEAR that.

    I am always torn on how to feel about Kanye. My gut tells me that he is definitely a genius and even that he has the potential to make a great change in the world, but my eyes and ears tell me something completely different. He continues to underwhelm me as time goes on. Someone mentioned that the passing of his mother may have been a catalyst for this egotism, but one part of me thinks that it all might be an act. His behavior is so erradic and bizarre, it’s hard for me to believe that it’s genuine. Some part of me thinks that he’s doing all of this for attention/media.

    1. I don’t think she even watched either of those. That is very evident from her blog that she missed his two most important interviews in years.

  63. Beautifully written post. I love the DuBois and Fanon excerpts, as well. Kanye is the perfect example of a person that is a revolutionary when it’s beneficial for him, or to be trendy… Yet he secretly has meetings with those that he rebels against, and then pillow talks with their daughters at night. I hope that he may find a realistic truth of who he is one day.

  64. I disagree. Did you watch his Breakfast CLub and Sway interviews? I would have agreed with this BEFORE those two interviews. I think he wore the confederate flag in an attempt to neutralize its meaning. His point was that the conferderate flag will only continue to symbolize pain if we let it and if we are letting it, then it will continuously be used to push our buttons.

    Kanye’s message is now, he is tired of people getting rich off of them. He is tired of white corporations using tastemakers and urban culture shifters to get a bigger check but cutting them out of the bigger picture. In short, he is tired of being a worker. He knows the bosses have lost their touch. This is why we have Alicia Keys for Reebok. Kanye West for Nike. etc. When you get into the Givenchy’s, the arguement weakens a little bit. However, I don’t see a problem with knowing that you are more than a taste maker, you are a culture shifter. Jay-Z had many drinking Cristal. Then they got caught being racist. He rapped about it and switched brands. Look what Diddy was able to do for Ciroc. Kanye West knows he has this SAME power. So what he WANTS to do is say , “Okay, you cut me out, I’ll make your sh-t not hot.”

    Only in those 2 interviews do we find out that he doesn’t price his own items. He took a lot of sh* for the price of the Cruel Summers given he wants to create affordable items for everyone. did Guiseppe ever stand up and say, “Don’t blame Kanye, we priced these shoes.” Nope, Kanye just took it. This is why he wants to be in control of his product. Nike won’t even give him royalties. Who wouldn’t be tired of being a pawn?

    There’s nothing wrong with pointing out that there is strength in numbers. It is a strong message to the urban community. This article had a definite slant. It shoul dhave been written six months ago, though. It seems ill-researched at best. Especially given his most recent interviews. Please do better. If you’re going to villianize someone. Anyone can respect opinions, but this was very very shallow. Shallow examples and relationships. You have to do a little better.

  65. You bring up great points but telling Kanye to not worry about Big Table is like telling Rosa Parks she doesn’t need the bus.

    He wants a seat at the table to show that it shouldn’t be reserved for only one type of people.

  66. hey to the retarded author of this article! THE SWASTIKA A HOLY EMBLEM OF OVER 1 BILLION PEOPLE! HINDUS..BUDDHISTS..SIKHS..AMERICAN NATIVES! but since you black live in a b+w and forget there are other peoples around you wouldnt know that! its dummies like you who help to keep the swastika in nazi hands! thanx retard!

  67. I owe an apology or at least an adjustment.

    I listened to these two interviews again and I have to say that I understand Kanye. I think he represents idealized young Black America at the top of their game and the end of the rainbow- the road, and the story. I’m making a point of saying “young” Black America because plenty of his older contemporaries have made the same journey and simply settled when they came to the same fork in the road he’s come to. He’s made the incredible money and he’s worked with his “idols” and he’s been able to purchase whatever he wants. Now all of a sudden his fame won’t buy him what he yearns for- artistic respect and freedom, more time, power and autonomy. He’s at the place where all of the young boy/young man bullshit gives way to the real world. He’s at a place where his predecessors usually take up “white” hobbies and fall in line with their financial advisors and begin “investing” in mainstream endeavors (worlds away from where they grew up physically or politically). I think Kanye imagined that he’d be able to stay true to the game and simply keep growing using the same vocabulary and the same work ethic. I think he thought that he’d be able to simply say, “the street loves me so you got to love me too” and actually have that count for something. He thought that the love and support of a marginalized audience would always be recognized as legal tender. Nope- it doesn’t work that way. The real world is vicious, selective and racist and you got to bring much more to get a seat at the table he covets.

    You can almost see the ideas careen off the inside of his head and flash behind his eyes as he struggles to verbalize what he thinks nobody in the room seems to grasp. Simply put, he’s got much more to say about the world and his journey through it and he knows that millions of other black and brown people do as well- but they will never ever get the chance. His frustration is palpable and painful to watch. It’s the realization that his skill set hasn’t adequately prepared him to do battle with this brand of devils that drives him to rant like he’s unhinged. This same realization makes him shout his resume and equate his accomplishments to various white men (always white men) who sit atop their fields. This makes him sound like an egomaniac but he’s really only mimicking the same thing he sees his white heroes do- overstate their influence to position their brand and legitimize their dominance. He’d like his audience to take up the charge with him but their battles will always be pale in comparison.

    He’s chosen fashion as his entry point but he might as well have selected the space program or time travel. It would be too simple to say he’s come up against the glass ceiling- because in truth he hasn’t. He can enjoy a long, fruitful career doing exactly what he’s doing right now with a little elevation- but he won’t settle for that. He wants to be rewarded for being artistically superior to others and the reward he wants is not only monetary, he also wants power. That’s where his feelings get hurt and his game plan falls apart. White billionaires are not in the business of “helping” to create Black billionaires (not unless they can control them). White billionaires will happily create millionaires and sign their checks and guide their investments but they will not bequeath or share equal power. In listening to him you naturally wonder why he doesn’t understand this. And then in the next moment you realize that he does and he’s simply scared to death and angry as hell. Fear usually makes you do one of three things- run like a bitch, give up and die or swing back with whatever you can get your hands on. He’s swinging back- the weapons he’s chosen are odd (“reclaiming” the confederate flag- as if rich white men gave a damn about hillbilly history) and his explanation is awkward at best- but you have to give him credit for fighting and you have to respect his frustration.

    Kanye obviously knows that he’s gifted but he also knows that he’s at the stage where his music alone will not sustain his lifestyle or fulfill his creative needs. Truth is, he’s getting older and by his own admission younger lions are appearing and they’re circling that throne.

    Perhaps he’ll realize that real visionaries see opportunities where everyone else sees darkness. Europe ain’t the only place with billionaires and factories. Time will tell.

  68. Not much to say other than it takes a great amount courage to do and less to speak of what has been done. When we get a second chance from conception we will make better choices. Until then we the brave will try, knowing our try will invite criticism from all quarter. Maybe he’s is wrong, maybe he’s a little wrong, but more than likely he is human with the same frailties we all have. I love when we quote our leaders of the past with well quilted revisionist text, as though they themselves did not have fault worthy of mention. The truth is they did, however their contributions outweighed all else. His story has yet to be recorded in full.

  69. Great story. I can’t understand why he wants to be accepted by people who won’t accept him. He needs to make his own path and create his own success in the fashion industry (as he did in the music industry). If his clothes are good, people will buy them. He’s alienating his own people to try to gain acceptance from the majority.

  70. “Watch them all stand in line for a slice of the devil’s pie”
    -DeAngelo

    1619. 394 years and our beautiful black brothers & sisters lost in America are still waiting in vain for our oppressors love. For what reason when it is obviously not forthcoming? The author quoted Frantz Fanon, who like Che Guevara & Maurice Bishop gave their lives for the liberation of our peoples so that they would not integrate or assimilate into our oppressors wicked wasteful western way of life. Our young lost brother Kanye West is but another agent provocateur, a weapon of mass media distraction employed by the Ruling Elite’s system of white supremacy to brainwash & bamboozle you into believing in their American pipe dream. The Ponzi scheme started in 1605 that is the western economies capitalism is running its course and the end of empire is fatally near. The US petrodollar backed by their military will fall to the status of loo paper once it is supplanted by the gold standard & alternative currencies currently being used throughout Africa, Asia & Latin America.
    So please, don’t throw your lot in with US & UK because they are in their twilight and the sun is rising elsewhere in the world. Blessings 1 <3

    “The unpreparedness of the educated classes, the lack of practical links between them and the mass of the people, their laziness, and, let it be said, their cowardice at the decisive moment of the struggle will give rise to tragic mishaps.”
    ― Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth

    “Each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it, or betray it."
    ― Frantz Fanon

    1. As I mentioned yesterday, it is apparent that the higher one climbs, the thinner the air, and one loses a sense of their orientation or coherence. From Kanye not being able to get a sit to LV asking why he felt it was important to meet with their execs to his impose ‘his creative genius’, it is apparent that self importance is what his issue is about. I do believe that Kanye has talent; immense talent but right now he seems more like someone suffering and delusional from what is commonly known as ‘the curse of the gift’, which in turn has taken shape or form proclamations and arrogance to think he could move the black in a particular direction over his trivial and personal matters with brands etc. Even MJ failed to move us against SONY (generally speaking), and come on Kanye, even you must know that your brand in comparison to MJ, is still a pup!! So focus on your music, nurture your child and please stop forcing Kim down our throats!! Lord knows we are tired of Kim, Kris et al!!

    2. i think you raise a very interesting and valid point with regard to the kanye west dichotomy. but food for thought; as far as i’m concerned the jury is still out on mr. west simply for one reason, his insufferable arrogance. i believe that kanye’s desire to “sit at the table” if you will, comes from the arrogance of believing he should be the one who kicks down the door even without the “black cosign”. i think he believes he has the ability/opportunity to breach the glass ceiling and he’s going for it unapologetic-ally. i’m not pretending to understand issues belonging to an aspiring billionaire but i do know that billionaires (and beyond) rule this planet, whether directly or indirectly, and he believes true freedom can only come as an economic equal. this economic equality would allow for complete independence of thought and a restructuring of social norms not based out of lack of options or default actions. i believe he sees what we don’t in that regard and has a genuine difficulty expressing that to others who can’t relate. i think he refers to himself in comparison to historic figures to put a frame on his intentions and ambition. is he tremendously emotional and crass at times? yes, but that same passion makes him courageous enough to strike at reality as we know it even without the support of black people who don’t see what’s at stake on a trillion dollar level. one thing we do know about kanye is that if he gets in, he’s bringing brothers with him. he’s done it before and i’m sure he’ll continue to, at least for those who see where he’s headed.

      1. He is headed for failure! To think that you can change the perception of ones that are even more arrogant and selfish than you are is far-fetch from reality. To find your own way and make your own legacy is far more richer than trying crossover only to be sent back after you come up short in meeting the expectation of someone else standards. Set your own standards.

      2. @Speak Joy thanks, for @Quit the Madness, ???. you aren’t grasping what’s at stake and how reality is transformed. Nelson Mandela (may he rest peacefully) changed S Africa and the world from a jail cell. it took 27 years for others to grasp and /or support something he saw so clearly. kanye said he cracks a smile for 2013 but he’s frowning for 2023, what do you think he means? he’s not asking for acceptance he’s demanding his respect as an equal creative. he spoke to succeeding before he’s “out of his moment” because unlike you he sees his window as a popular artist able to earn closing in ways you haven’t thought of yet. us average income folks love to tell “rich people” how grateful for or how they should spend their money, because that’s what we’d think we’d do in that position. the truth is you have no idea what pressures or subversives you’d face in his shoes. i would never say that kanye isn’t “extra” on a lot of occasions but that’s not new and its what got him where he is. to think that he would be the type of “black person” that makes you comfortable by not ruffling feathers in the media is what’s not realistic. what i hear him saying is that with all the fame and money he’s amassed(only about 100 million), he’s constantly reminded that he’s still a “nigger” and he sees it happen to other black men all the time. tiger woods, michael jordan and jackson all have/had a glass ceiling over their ability to be strong minded, outspoken black men of wealth and influence. Jordan is still selling underwear for Hanes as the greatest in his field ever. Tiger has been subdued by his endorsement deals and the media while MJ was forced in seclusion and pimped(despite his great heart and mind) to his death. kanye doesn’t want acceptance from the fashion world his products already sell which is the true measurement of success in that industry. he wants equal power and footing to become an industry himself. that’s a noble ambition to want to empower yourself enough to empower others. wealthy families have generational wealth and power; they can employ, they can develop, they can research and they can sustain. he has to attempt to reach that status through the temperamental circus of entertainment. that’s a real tall order. try parking your emotions about it and being rational in your thinking. besides kanye’s emotional enough for all of us.

      3. He might bring “brothers” with him, but will he be bringing sisters? This is a man who was not just insensed but offended that Anna Wintour chose the FLOTUS – a Black woman (like the one who gave him life) – for the cover of Vogue, instead of his White baby mama. If you know anything at all about Vogue magazine, and he does I’m certain (he’s been featured many times), you know that they rarely have a BW gracing the cover, so for him to be angry that the first Black FLOTUS was on the cover instead of yet another WW (and a trashy one at that) makes it even more obvious what Kanye West is really about. And it sure as hell is not the betterment of Black folks as a group!

  71. Couldn’t agree more on this piece, pure perfection. Only to say the Swastika was a symbol of peace in the Asian culture centuries before the Nazis used it for a symbol of hatred and white supremacy. People give words and symbols power, this isn’t to say Wannabee Yeezy isn’t wearing the flag for Sensationalism.

  72. When I read the original article I thought of Kanye right away and posted the article on Facebook, asking how come Kanye has not spoken out against Barneys or JayZ. His statement about George Bush not caring about blacks leads you to believe that he is so pro black people. Not! These people no longer identify with the black community, they relate to what looks like money, makes money, has money.

    1. I can see that for Jay Z. However, I feel like Kanye is a little more grounded and pretty aware of his skin color because he’s had to deal with exclusion, even with all the money he has. Money doesn’t change the color of your skin. Maybe you should listen to a few of Kanye’s songs. Do you fools listen to music or do you just skim through it?

      1. I completely agree. If you truly listen to his music. The “activism” is in his lyrics. I feel tha his true fan base, understands completely where he is coming from.

    2. Is it fair to put all this responsibility on one person? That’s my main question.
      black artists have to be allowed freedom of expression just like everyone else. I really don’t think it’s right to put pressure on individuals to speak for entire demographics of people. If anything, we should be working to get more artists of color on the platform to speak their opinions and have a variety of ideas floating around through art. But artists are not spokespeople and I don’t think it’s fair to put them on that platform.

      If you don’t agree with someone’s art, you don’t agree with it and that’s fine. You’re entitled to that. But is it really fair to discredit someone’s entire career because you don’t feel that in the past 2 years they’re been working for the benefit of black people? Don’t buy the music, don’t support the artist but you I don’t think its right to their entire portfolio because you think they’re speaking for you “wrong”.

      Will Smith never speaks on on racism at all. And he does this for the purpose of his advancement in his career. And it’s worked for him. He’s a phenomenal actor. Should we discredit him completely because he hasn’t been speaking for ”us”? I think it starts becoming questionable when artist are being forced into stations of life they never asked to be in.

      I don’t know man, I don’t mean to be constantly standing up for Kanye. It’s just that I listen to him more than I listen to people talk about him and I sort of get it. Now I might not agree with all of it, but to me the issue is not so much what Kanye says, but that he’s the only person talking about these type of things in the mainstream. I don’t see many other artists facilitating conversations about race whether I agree with them or not.

      One person that seems to be stepping up to the plate is Nick Cannon. We’ll see where that goes and if people will support him.

      I’m just not ready to write Kanye off yet and I don’t understand why people are acting like the past ten years don’t matter. is our memory as consumers that short term?

      1. this was dope… to me.. to say “we are slaves” when the people ARENT.. is ridiculous… Everybody has the choice to buy what they want. Just because kanye west is one that makes these fads ‘cool’ does not mean that he dictates why they are. Nobody is ENSLAVED to buying high end products; or any product for that matter. Not saying that he has ‘all of the blame’ for anything. I am thinking this is regarding how he is using his power. He is putting a bad message out to the youth ultimately. He isnt saying it for the right reasons and it is easily figured out of his wording. People just takes what he says for the best possible meaning but what happened to ‘say what you mean ; mean what you say’. There is little responsibility for the message he sends to the children who ‘look up to him’. Sidenote: it starts with the parents to show their kids proper role models.

  73. I feel where you are coming from but I still think this is very inaccurate. Kanye is not just mad because he cannot get a seat at the table, he is mad that black people (hisself included) cannot get a seat at the table soley because we are black and “urban” and of course both urban and black have negative connotations. And he is also pissed that he and other black people (he named pharrell and michael jordan) do not have any say so in the fashion they are selling. You would be pissed too if you made nike 3k a shoe and they didnt give you any royalties and were pimping you. Thats not anymore selfish, than any other time blacks have tried to integrate stuff (ie. Jackie Robinson baseball, Brown v Board, Michael Jackson MTV etc.) Your article assumes envy and reform exist on a dichotomy and thats false. Black people’s envy of white peoples right to freedom is what moved us to fight for our freedom. Our envy of their ability to give their children good educations is what propelled us in the fight for equal opportunity in education. Why is Kanye being condemned for that? I bet sway didnt tell Marshall and the NAACP to stop trying to integrate public education and just go build up their own schools. And you oversimplified Kanyes response to sway suggesting he create his own stuff. He told sway and the world that he cannot create his own stuff and have complete control over it and it be successful because in order for it to be successful it 1) has to be able to compete with other fashion companies which kanye cannot compete with because it is an INDUSTRY which means they own factories and they have a monopoly on fashion. (hyper-racial capitalism) and 2) he does not have the time they have to run his own fashion company while also trying to make music to stay relevant. (Starburys are a perfect example of why creating your own line isnt that simple) The confederate flag t shirts along with the 150 blank white t shirts, the bound 2 video, etc are apart of a bigger picture in which kanye has been exposing the absurdity of hyper capitalism (ie. new slaves) through parody. He can literally put anything for sale and people buy it. 150 dollar plain white t shirt, confederate flag, etc. NEW SLAVES. Dont take this out of context.

    1. I agree with you, but much is left to be desired by his methods of getting this message across. He is only attracting negative attention, which we ALL know only gets your words cast into a muted situation (especially with “US”). He has to find a way to do it without making tabloid headlines. 🙁

      1. No it isn’t just negative attention. Don’t forget Malcolm. I don’t know what you do Corey but you clearly don’t understand this game and what he (we) is up against. Sometimes you really have to shake the tree hard to get the fruit to fall.

    2. Although JAM makes many great points, I do highly agree with Taylor. Yes, i think Kanye can do a better job expressing is views. opinions, and the representaion of black progression and activism. But a lot of the ignorance in what Kanye exemplifies is created by media, and critics who are looking for more blog hits, bigger controversy for potential gain of there own; while Industry cators to the highclass (old money /racist) and not the majority of Americans.
      JAM: greaaat historical quotes used and they were greatly correlated to Kanye’s actions and words. Taylor: Thank you for keeping a open mind and sharing it.

      1. I would just like to say it is so refreshing to discover this community of genuine and respectful thinkers. I’m so moved, impressed and thankful for the valid, on-topic, informative and respectful arguments. As a non-american I often read comments sections of websites to get a sense of how everyday Americans think about the world. Sad to say I’m often disgusted by the ignorance and hate-drenched comments under the guise of anonymity. Will definitely be reading this enlightening site more! Thank you!

    3. I completely agree! I feel others take in account the media interpretation of Kanye (his out bursts, his interviews, his relationships) and their personal feelings about them, that they cannot comprehend the deeper meaning of his words, actions (150 dollar plain white t shirt, confederate flag, etc. ). It goes over their heads. At the same time, he’s so passionate about his ideas, his plight(as he should be), and he’s trying to get his point across, in these interviews that want to bring up anything/everything that does NOT pertain to the message he wants to send. He get’s so frustrated and that passion is misconstrued as anger. You cannot help but to think that even these interviewers are made to keep from getting his point across, or to at least distract listeners from taking in the reality of what he is saying…… Maybe it’s all meant to distract us, from reality and what we really need to do to break thru the “systematic glass ceiling”.
      ” IT’S A NEW FORM OF COTTON THAT WE ALL PICKING” – Kanye West

      1. Let us not forget who these interviewers work for. Talking heads today are the paid equivalent to hired guns of yesteryear, bounty hunters paid to discredit the threat to the glass ceiling. Kanye is an azz as our timid president surmised, but Kanye is an azz with a purpose and a passion. How many of us have the courage to risk it all to speak our minds and seem foolish in the process?

  74. Why be mad at him wearing the flag but not mad at him and many others using the “N’ word. Both are symbols of deep oppression. I personally dislike the use of both. But here’s another thought–Could our dislike of his pursuit of serious wealth be a sign of our oppression in this nation. You know, Not wanting to see our kind really succeed? Thoughts?

    1. Why should a black women care about his plight to get rich? If, I remember, wasn’t Kanye the one to say, “leave yo azz for a white girl?” And did he not do just that. Again, why should black women care about him helping to enrich not only himself, but the kardashian family?

    2. This, my friend, is a very very valid point. I’ve been trying to put myself in a position that’s against the trend by thinking: What is all the annoyance really for? Is it because we as a people haven’t gotten to the position he’s aspiring for that makes it seem inappropriate for him to aspire for that position? And in the process, trying to push down roadblocks and strongholds in his way, is such a method that we are so unfamiliar with.

  75. A beautifully written piece to the Author! In reading this, I have a question. In looking at Mr. West’s interviews in which he has now come under fire for, the ONE painfully obvious issue you have with him is his behavior, correct? For instance, yelling at Sway (who has always conducted himself professionally, and been a bright spot of positivity in Hip Hop), attacking the President of our country, as though he were involved in a street corner dispute, and a host of other moments. Outside of these horrible offenses, I must say the man made a few great points. So should we not be addressing his behavior as our points of interest? Dr. Fanon’s quote is 100% spot on, but in this case I must pose a question to his most insightful view. We, who wish to achieve economic equality, should we not seek to strive in this, the already standing, and functioning economic body? I ask this question in particular because WE (Black people) are a long way from a Sovereignty such as the American Indian. I mean should Mr. West NOT seek to put forth a product that not only appeals to the Urban existence, but also travels to consumer bases outside of that? For all his foolish antics, Mr. West made a statement concerning the design of a plain white button down shirt, or something resembling business attire, and then proceeded to state that such an idea could never come to fruition on the part of a Black Designer, in the current state of things. Wouldn’t the right thing to do here be to explain to Mr. West that while having a valiant idea/cause is great, deafening your own voice, with your own buffoonery is counter productive (I’m sure he already knows this). I only wish he knew that Subtlety is a much more powerful force than “Force” itself, and to achieve one such a goal, it will have to be done in a low profile, non threatening manner (such has been the path of just about every foreign entity that has gained economic strength, and put this country in a vice right under their noses). They should have never seen Kanye West coming, and most importantly in his case…. They should have never heard him coming either.

  76. “he cares more about having a seat at the table with the same people he accuses of racism and classism, than bringing about change.” For the record, he does care about change, or undermining the people who deny him the ability to share his creative endeavors the way he wants. He talks about changing the system at his concerts, but I see your point. As long as he continues to sit at their tables and invest in their clothes, he is not actively fighting the system that is fucking him over. Even though he is aware that what they’re ding to him is fucked up, he seems intent on gaining respect that they’re never going to show him.
    Fortunately, he is becoming increasingly aware of how fucked up the system is, it’s evident in his Yeezus lyrics, but actions do speak louder than words. He just has to take the revolutionary mentality in his album and act on it.

    1. Once upon a time we lived on the plains of African land. Once upon a time we were in shackles, Once upon a time we were not allowed to to read. Once upon a time were were not allow to vote. Once upon a time we were not allow to sit in a restaurant and eat a meal. Once upon a time… Once upon a time…Once upon a time.

  77. From a Marketing prospective… think about if Kanye was a porn star. Just because you got the cash doesn’t mean people respect your art or how you made your cash. Not all brands, especially high fashion are going to bow down just because some “artist” with money is interested. Off brand.

  78. All communities must be careful in selecting their role models. Wealth and talent does not and should not by themselves make you a role model. With regret the black community imposes the “role model” label on every famous and / or talented and / or wealthy black person. Why, when some are not worthy? There must be a closer analysis of substance over style. Kanye’s embarrassing appearance on stage to take away Taylor Swift’s gong demonstrated a complete misunderstanding of his perceived “influence”, as does his approach to Louis Vuitton. One thing I can bet you is that LV’s profits will not drop one cent because of Kanye. Kanye is a talented rapper etc who has tried his hand at fashion design and other design ideas. However that does not make him one to watch in terms of advancing any black cause. The black community is placing too onerous a burden on Kanye’s Celine fringed shoulders. Such over analysis of what this wealthy successful rapper does only further delays progress. If i wished to retard enlightenment within the black community, i would find Kanye a useful tool. “Look what happens when……..”

  79. First off, I truly enjoyed your first article about Jay-Z, and couldn’t agree more with what you said regarding him and now about Kanye. Sadly, Kanye is like so many other black people both famous and not; all of which are seeking acceptance and a seat at the table with ‘massa.’ Early in my professional career, I worked with a older brother who had ‘de-urbanized’ his first name, and admittedly confided in me, that the closer he to the time for his annual review, he would start shaving off his facial hair, in order to more resemble our white regional director. His justification for his actions, was that he felt the more he looked like them during his review, the more likely his chance was to getting a favorable review and substantial raise. It’s truly disparaging when African-Americans are more willing to comprise their ideals and integrity and expend so much energy in order to gain acceptance or entry into the places where we are not welcomed or wanted, instead of building and creating our own legacies. Examples of this flawed thinking abound, from decades ago when we sought to move into ‘white neighborhoods’ to black actors and actresses relentless pursuit of winning an Oscar. Despite popular belief, our community is in serious need of leadership and guidance. Anytime children believe its more possible for them to be like Rick Ross, than President Obama, you know we are dire straits as a people. Kanye, needs to quit fighting to get into the ranks of those who don’t respect him, and create something to help those who look like him to aspire to.

  80. I do think Kanye has lost the plot! Actually, I have thought that for a while. From his Taylor Swift antics, the Confed flag to attempting to boycott LV!! I just think his way of conveying a message is just too far out for this moment in time. From an artistic point of view, I think I get it…’the whole: take ownership of the flag from the racist symbol’. However, he is pushing it too far, and his ranting is just getting annoying.

  81. I don’t necessarily believe in being perfect but I’ll be damned if this post wasn’t perfection. I actually listen to Some of kanye’s music but there’s no doubt about him having serious internal issues that he needs to fix.

    1. whenever i hear him speak i realize i have an internal issue too. a lot of the music these artists make are as bad as wearing a confederate flag but we still find ways to enjoy and support it. dualities!

  82. Cool article, BUT: You don’t need an apostrophe for “ole” because you’re not replacing a letter (“d”). Ol’, yes, but not ole. Secondly, you can’t imagine people wearing swastikas for fashion? It’s happened about a billion times since the 1970s…punk…Bowie…ASIA.

  83. I love the incorporation of psych theory and Dubois’ double consciousness, and I think this article makes very compelling arguments about Kanye’s behavior with relation to his internal struggle with acceptance. I do, however, think that his struggle to be accepted at the table does say something about injustice and inequality. He’s climbed to the top of the ladder only to be rejected by such powers, entirely because of his race. I would ask, then, how his publicity of this rejection DOES bring about change or at least awareness of the issue. I, personally, have become more aware of corporate nepotism, societal hierarchy, and the corruption within the prison industry, all because of Kanye’s public antics. Awareness doesn’t necessarily equate with change. But I think a large part of present day racism is unawareness, considering a fair amount of our population live obliviously in some made up “post-racial” America. Furthermore, is it Kanye’s responsibility to change this large-scale systemic issue? Why do we feel the need to pin the responsibility on an artist who is only trying make people understand.
    Again, great article. I wrote a piece responding to Kanye’s rants as well:

    http://poeticjustice.me/2013/12/02/kanye-west-the-crazy-ranting-inarticulate-genius/

  84. While this article does make some excellent and highly insightful points (not to mention being beautifully written, kudos), I think it’s generalizing and overamplifying the role of racism in “the table.” Why wouldn’t Kanye want to be able to do things the way they have always been done by successful men who came before him, regardless of their so-called “race?” Don’t we all want a seat at the table? That’s what every man, woman, and child who’s come into this country over the years has come looking for.
    While I do agree with the author’s sentiments about the spinelessness of Kanye’s desperate need to squeeze his way into the binary, I do not agree that he necessarily needs to forge his own path. It seems that broadening the existing path would be a truer equality, the inclusion of black models for example (although I would have thought this would no longer be an issue in 2013, but…). This metaphorical “table” is an elitist structure and racism is merely one of the many tenets of hate employed to keep guest list low.

  85. Unfortunately like many Americans both Black and White Kanye believes in a history of lies and falsehoods.
    I see many Blacks folks that see America in the same way as he does. He supports a system that got it’s start in the surplus wealth generated from Slavery and exploitation of non whites. It fueled Empires and destroyed cultures.
    Todays Capitalism was born out of this system and to use a West Indian saying, What has gone wrong in the morning cannot be put right in the afternoon. ( I will not try to write in Jamacian Patois I’m English)
    The Culture and the system we support in the West is one that is corrupt at it’s root and however we dress it up it it is still the child of Slavery and Exploitation. (Putting a fancy dress on a pig does not change that it is still a pig)
    For those who want some more insight into why Black People still clinge to the distorted history and lies they should read Franz Fanons Black Skin White Mask to help them understand the Kaynes of this world and why Black folks buy into the system.
    White folks get fed the same BS and in America we have the Tea Party and right wing politicians to prove it and similar organizations in Britain, Germany,France, Greece, Italy et al. It uses racism to make poor White folks feel better about themselves and the system and scapegoats Black as the problem like Hitler did with Jews and Gypsys.
    Franz Fanon was required reading for the Black Panthers back in the day. I must say it was at this time I became aware of the evils of racism and racial hatred . Up until then I had been brought up in a society where the idea of Colonialism and Superior race prevailed especially where I was raised because the Tory Party had held sway there for generations ( 3 generations of the same family had held the seat until post 2000.) It was a time of many Colonial nations were getting their independace from Britian and a change we hoped that would lead to a better future for all. When young white folks like me were thrown out of or barred at the door from entering the American Embassy and Canada House in London in our efforts to get support for the ANC in South Africa and called “nigger lovers” and “scum”. Years later we were subjected to the hypocracy of Bush when North America was visited by Mandela with the hugs and backslapping of Mandela by the same people called him a communist terrorist in the 1950’s and 60’s
    I am lod and I know that the system doesn’t work it only corrupts those who believe in it’s lies and is not the way forward that humans need whatever colour their skin. We really need to find a better way

  86. You could also make some great connections between Kanye’s Paris obsession and Fanon’s illustration of the black, Antillean man’s experience of Paris/the métropole in _Black_Skin,_White_Masks_ .

  87. I also notice Kanye has clearly different speech when he is talking to a white interviewer vs a black interviewer. He is EXTREMELY disrespectful when blacks are interviewing him. Not the other way.

  88. It is very interesting to watch the journey of Mr. West as he continues his “mission” within this world. As African Americans, it doesn’t take much study of our contributions in the past to understand certain ways of life we all support and live in in the present. True, there are some in the world on greater platforms that could add tremendous gains for us a people, but that can very well be said about anyone. It’s real easy to look at someone and place judgement on what we feel the should be doing. No one is excluding and true to told Mr. West is very right about us being slaves within the socialization and indoctrination of us as a people in the Western World generated by the perspectives of Western Philosophy. Some where after the Civil Rights Movement we became complacent in our strives to creating a better world for ourselves. Integration has robbed as from so much that doesn’t allow us to actively continue to move forward in the things we merely talk about. It really doesn’t matter the notoriety of what anyone speaks or who it’s coming from, when despite millions of reads, listeners, etc; we still are only talking. He may not be going about what he is after in a “smart” way to a spectator, but give him some credit. He is trying, and he is only one person I’m sure isn’t working alone. It truly takes everyone to play their part. There is no ridicule when those pieces together in active motion produce brighter pictures in the establishment of stronger foundations to build better futures.

    The world is a lot more complex beyond surfaces we have be acclimated to be accustomed to. No one knows what anyone truly sees in the exploration of their lives in this world. We has African-Americans seem to be stuck in one sector of our own perceptions, when there definitely is a force responsible for our slumbers. That force is still present even in current days. We dissect ourselves trying to find answers to solutions, instead of taking it for it is and making those moves to usher in that change. We are content with quoting this brave souls who contributed to the advancement of us as a people when the harsh realities of our challenges were constantly in our face. They made those leaps within the bounds of their faith, which is why we quote them. Are we afraid to have the happiness? Are we afraid to walk away, and journey in the opposite direction? The direction that we know aligns with who we are, what we believe, and everything we know we deserve. The glamor of “Hollywood” doesn’t change the truth; it simply camouflages what the oppressor doesn’t want you to see within yourself- the strength and the power. The illusion isn’t fashion or anything of that nature when we all contribute in sustaining a world that was never intended to be created for us in us building it beyond plantations. How many black owned hospitals do we have that practices our own methods? How many broadcasting studios do we have? How many black owned bases to the regularities of our life are there to affirm or own stance? It’s not racism when in integration we missed the whole reason for the movement. The White House and governments they already developed and established. They created their world way before the inception of what we would know to be America. These aren’t new wars. We fought to build our own- not to continue to build them. We didn’t march to washington to become the surrogate bastard children of the ones who oppress in the world they already created. They knew exactly what would happen to us in integration. That’s why the welcomed it. Mental slavery and brainwashing is a very dynamic, complex, and powerful median for those who know how to use it. The education in schools they already developed. The broadcasting systems affirming the normalcy of their life and where they want us to continue to stand. Where is our representation within all industries in a capitalistic-democracy that holds no rules with what you can create within your capability? No one will do for US. No one is going to give US that affirmation. We have to do it for ourselves, just like how you would tell anyone that they have to do for themselves individually. US as a people are no different.

    We has a collective have around $863 Billion of consumer spending power with estimated growth to have 1.1 Trillion in 2015. We are only 14% of a country, which is considered to be the 16th largest nation in the world. That information can be found on the African American Consumer Report of 2010.

    That’s beyond Kanye West. That’s something no one can fault Kanye on subjectively when we all are to blame. No matter the fight, people on those highest tiers of their creation will never allow those “under” them to take control if those people they pit down don’t learn how to wake up and see it for themselves. That’s what he means when he says we are slaves. It doesn’t matter how free we think we are as a people, when we haven’t learned how to separate ourselves in the confidence of our own power, culture, and love. We haven’t found the confidence within ourselves. We haven’t the balance of US on this land. We haven’t began to walk with our heads high as a collective. We don’t know how to coexist without using the mechanisms that we know prohibit us as crutches, and trying to find exit strategies around a problem that we know is not going away without our full participation. Worlds are very dynamic. Ushering in worlds are not simple.

    When will we as a people begin to see the unlocking truth of our ancestors words? When will we as a people connect in the increase of social capital within ourselves and begin to do for ourselves what we do for everyone else? When will we as a people unit and use all we have gained and learned to the maturity of US? We truly do live on the land of the free. The problem is, we are not united.

  89. It is very interesting to watch the journey of Mr. West as he continues his “mission” within this world. As African Americans, it doesn’t take much study of our contributions in the past to understand certain ways of life we all support and live in within existing in the present. True, there are some in the world on greater platforms that could add tremendous gains for us a people, but that can very well be said about anyone. It’s real easy to look at someone and place judgments on what we feel they should be doing. No one is excluded in forward mobility of “Us” as a people, and “truth” be told Mr. West is very right about us being slaves within the socialization and indoctrination of us as a people in the western world generated by the perspectives of western philosophy.
    Somewhere after the Civil Rights Movement we became complacent in our own strives to create a better world for ourselves. Integration has robbed us from our self-identity that doesn’t allow us to actively continue to move forward in the things we merely talk about in our discussions. It really doesn’t matter the notoriety of what anyone speaks or who it’s coming from, when despite millions of reads, listeners, etc; we still are only talking. He may not be going about what he is after in a “smart” way to a spectator, but give him some credit. He is trying, and he is only one person. I’m sure he isn’t working alone in his pursuits. It truly takes everyone to play his or her part. There is no ridicule when those pieces together in active motion produce brighter pictures in the establishment of stronger foundations to build better futures outside of an individual person.
    The world is a lot more complex beyond surfaces we have been acclimated to be accustomed to. No one knows what anyone truly sees in the exploration of his or her life in this world that was labeled the “New World Order” we learned in history class. The growth of a seed can never stem away from the root of its inception. We as African-Americans seem to be stuck in one sector of our own perceptions, when there definitely is a force responsible for our slumbers; that force is still present even in current days. We dissect ourselves trying to find answers to solutions, instead of taking it for what it is and making those moves to usher in that change. That’s a philosophy we adopted from our oppressors, when our histories teach us that we focus on holism in the connection of all life. We are content with quoting these brave souls who contributed to the advancement of us as a people, when the harsh realities of our challenges were constantly in our face. They didn’t have the blessing of being comfortable. They made those leaps within the bounds of their faith, which is why we quote them today.
    Are we afraid to have our happiness? Are we afraid to actually see the manifestation of the eradication of the fight? Are we afraid to walk away and journey in the opposite direction- the direction that we know aligns with who we are, what we believe, and everything we know we deserve? The glamour of “Hollywood” doesn’t change the truth; it simply camouflages what the oppressor doesn’t want you to see within yourself- the strength and the power within you and not the image given to what prisons our freedom. The illusion isn’t fashion or anything of that nature when we all contribute in sustaining a world that many African American History scholars would agree was never intended to be created for us, or the intention of us being free within us building this world and way of life we are shackled to beyond plantations. How many black owned hospitals do we have that practices our own methods? How many broadcasting studios do we have? Is music our only method of accepted self-expression? Where are the blueprints that code the developments of a world we can be and truly be confident in? How many black owned bases to the regularities of our life are there to affirm or own stance and realities of the universes through our own eye’s sight? Where are our positive images beyond colorism, double consciousness, and any other term associated with our low self esteem and depressed state? Every other race has that beckon that shines them, where is ours?
    It’s not racism, when in integration we missed the whole reason for the movement. It’s not racism when we have a right to our own representation within our own truths. The White House and governments were already developed, established, and implemented. Those cash cows were already there. The social orders and classes were already developed. They created their world way before the inception of what we would know to be America. These aren’t new wars, and our oppressors don’t implement things on whims- when have they ever? We fought for the right to build our own- not to continue to build them like when our bodies were physically shackled to plantations creating the curse on this land erected by our blood and pain. We didn’t march to Washington to become the surrogate bastard children of the ones who oppress in the world they already created. They knew exactly what would happen to us in integration. That’s why they welcomed it. Mental slavery and brainwashing is a very dynamic, complex, and powerful median for those who know how to use it. No matter if Willie Lynch is real, the concept for a living African American can’t be ignored in it’s truth to how we view ourselves as a society in America. A theory of mind control in the early 1800s, why wouldn’t a government that was established by those same slave masters, not implement the same tactic on a bigger scale? Their education in schools was already developed. We weren’t learning knowledge. We were being socialized to confirm to the world they would continue to have us build and not be apart of without us even knowing it, while blinding us to truths they already knew before they sailed in Virginia to develop those 13 colonies. Their television, radios, and broadcasting systems affirming the normalcy of their life, image, and way are mere tactics to constantly reinforce the structure of the mental prison they created and expect us to depend on for jobs, entertainment, health, information…life. Where is our representation within all industries in a capitalistic-democracy that holds no rules with what you can create within your capability? They don’t want us to build that esteem that burns so passionately inside us. They know the legacies of greatness because they’ve seen it, and they’ve seen in active motion, which is why the “chose” us to be the builders of the world they blueprinted. The only one’s who don’t see it, is us. No one will do for US. No one is going to give US that affirmation. We have to do it for ourselves, just like how you would tell anyone that they have to do for themselves individually if they want to succeed in life. US as a people are no different.
    We as a collective unit have around $843 billion of consumers spending power with estimated growth to have $1.1 trillion in 2015. We are only 14% of a country, which is considered to be the 16th largest nation in the world. That’s a phenomenal statistic for such a small percentage of people that’s only a sub-sect of bigger group of people. That information can be found on the African American Consumer Report of 2010. That’s beyond Kanye West. That’s something no one can fault Kanye on subjectively when we all are to blame for whatever we feel is preventing us from making those enhancements to ourselves. We have to hold ourselves accountable and stop using each other as scapegoat to our problems, instead of focusing on the implementation of solutions.
    No matter the fight, people on those highest tiers of their creation will never allow those “under” them take control, if those people they pit down don’t learn how to wake up and see it for themselves. That’s what he means when he says we are slaves. I’m sure anything he emits for the public perception deals with personal things no one can readily call him out on, being that we all deal with our own personal battles; and unlike him we don’t have to deal with the scrutiny and harsh judgments made from the same people he advocates for. Yea, we can say he made that choice, but in the creation of monsters; where they always monsters or did we make them that way?
    It doesn’t matter how free we think we are as a people, when we haven’t learned how to separate ourselves in the confidence of our own power, culture, and love. We have culture. We are a special set of people within ourselves, branched from the motherlands of Africa that’s just a continent in comparison to mother Earth. Just because we are not physically there doesn’t mean that we aren’t here for a purpose and reason. We have culture. We emit in from having the confidence and pride of being who we are in the discovery of everything we claim to be. Who knows? There have been olmec heads found in the jungles of North America. I think it’s safe to say our footprints have always known the whole entire world.
    We haven’t found the confidence within ourselves. We haven’t found the balance of US on this land. We haven’t begun to walk with our heads high as a collective. We don’t know how to coexist without using the mechanisms that we know prohibits us from our oppressors as crutches. We can’t find exits to better beginnings if we aren’t being honest with ourselves with a problem that we know is not going away without our full vigilance, effort, and participation. Worlds are very dynamic. Ushering in worlds are not simple- as we know because we build this one; but we’ve built so much more before we were even brought to this land in this bracket of time. The ancient ruins of our past crystallize the memories of our greatness.
    When will we as a people begin to see the unlocking truth of our ancestor’s words? When will we as a people connect in the increase of social capital within ourselves, and begin to do for ourselves what we do for everyone else? When will we as a people unit and use all we have gained and learned to the maturity of US in the advancement of everything we were created to be beyond any oppressor? We truly do live on the land of the free. The problem is we are not united.

  90. Let me see… how can I say this… You don’t know what you’re talking about. You really need to (and I know you think you are) look below the surface. I know that you can only speak from what you know. However, it is apparent that you haven’t researched this issue one iota and you have just pulled from what you read and hear on the radio. The gossip. Any responsible journalist knows that you must do some really hard research to make a good story. It is clear that you are an intelligent woman and have some knowledge about African American history. But Mr. West is very well versed on African American History. He couldn’t get away from it. Anywhere he turned in his family it was being drilled into his head. Please read: The Fruit Innate http://wp.me/p1IVZj-2S via @SpeakJoy13 .

    I also find it interesting that you didn’t go deeper into the philosophy of WEB Du Boise’s The Talented Tenth whereby the issues that plague Mr. West as well as all of us are more clear. Furthermore as a brilliant woman it is hard for me to understand why you can’t see how you are acting as a crab in a bucket. I mean if you gone ride the dick at least ride it in such a way that brings people up and not tears us down. We don’t need more Tavis Smiley’s and Cornel West. Please excuse the vernacular but it was my first and honest impression of your article.

  91. I enjoy your work very much especially the Jay-Z article. We also need to examine why we are focused on being ‘equal’ to and ‘compliant’ with a group of people who prove over and over again that they despise us and see us as a threat to their way of life and even their very existence. One of the most insidious activities in America is the way in which African American scholars who have spent years of their lives researching and studying white supremacy racism are ignored marginalized by both mainstream media and the academic community. Please look at Dr. Amos Wilson’s ‘FALSIFICATION OF AFRIKAN CONSCIOUSNESS’ and Dr. Marimba Ani’s ‘YURUGU’ just for a start. We are not struggling with simple issues; I can see you know this, thank you for your efforts.

  92. confederate flags STILL represent criminality, pedophilia, rape, black hatred, whiter supremacy, everything blacks HATE and are offended by– bush -reagan stealing black votes and dumping guns and crack and aids in the BLACK COMMUNITY! THE flag says “I am sick and coo-coo, please forgive because I don’t know no -better because I’m a full time ‘skank.’ -don’t wear that b.s. in war torn chicago or memphis…
    KANYE, show some guts and wear some clothes representing VOO-DOO and HOO-DOO!

  93. All of us are entitled to our on point of view about any and every thing. Seem if a rapper who makes moves catch more slack for operating there own way in a industry that has blackballed and got rich off of years. Now that they demonstrate the power to strip down Americas grip on the way they use to control us its not approved. First we could’nt date white women , now we cant were this are buy from them. Who cares marketing comes with business and music is a business entertainment is a business.
    either you tune in or turn the channel who to judge a person values. Were is the good press at about how many jobs this dude creates such as the writers who has there 2 cents to say what is and what’s not… .

  94. There’s only one word needed to describe Kanye, and that word is ASININE!! The media really needs to stop perpetuating his PROPAGANDA!!

  95. What bothers me more than anything about this article is, more than its speculation about Kanye’s character as drawn from his ‘conduct’ (ironic considering what Fanon says about the use of the concept of ‘conduct’ to psychologically berate the black man, the colonized subject) is the blatant misuse of Fanon’s words and extraction of Fanon’s words from any legible context. Then the losing of those words on a cultural context in which Fanon himself was often viewed the way Kanye was — ill-mannered, sardonic/sarcastic, mean, petulant and a trouble-maker (some even saw Fanon as wanting a seat at ‘the table’).

    When Fanon writes of envy in “On Violence” the first chapter in The Wretched of the Earth, he does not do so critically of the colonized subject, he does so plainly devoid of moral judgment; Fanon observed the envy of the colonized subject as a source of violent hatred and a galvanizing force in the way of liberatory action, even violence. Frantz Fanon writes in the text above that which is quote here that this envy is born out of grave circumstances of inequity in which the colonized subject is trapped in the brutality of poverties. The colonizer recognizes this and sees in the colonized’s eyes an envy and a hatred spawned by the material conditions of abjection and then yields nothing to what Fanon is identifying a guilty conscience.

    No where in that passage does Fanon launch an attacked against a colonized subject. He goes on to talk about the educated class and the bourgeoisie later on as useless for revolution and problematic in the assembly of an economic structure that is truly independent from the metropole, but again he does not criticize black people for wanting material goods and on the contrary tells them to seek after them in a marxist way by controlling the means of production.

    Furthermore in Wretched of the Earth and Black Skins, White Masks, Fanon holds up an image of black arrogance, confidence, black ‘misconduct’ (as conduct is a white, upper class ideal which seeks to subordinate that which is ‘other’ into a way of thinking that of course maintains the power-relations between black and white, rich and poor), and general rebellion. Fanon ridicules discourses of respectability as a means for sifting out compliant and non compliant ‘negroes’ (you having placed Kanye in the latter category) and thereby determining that they have nothing of value to add (which you have suggested of Kanye on racism) to the system of respectability and governmentality. When Obama got up to belittle another black man in the media, calling him a ‘jackass’ to get some brownie points (some percentage points, actually) with white America, he exemplified this politics of respectability, a politics which he has worked tirelessly to uphold. Of course, we all just play into it. Kanye is messing it up for the rest of us, Kanye is being a coon, Kanye is spoiled. None of us see Kanye the way Fanon might actually see him, a black man trying to captivate and capture the control of the means of production for once to get the powers to which we supplicate out of the hands of the white man. Like any operation, any combative move, Kanye has to get inside to get the keys and he just so happens to want to do so in the least subordinate way, he has a different tact than the spook who sat by the door, and for those still thinking with the mind of the master (as Fanon might put it) it just looks like he has no tact at all. That’s your problem. Not Kanye’s.

  96. “A colonized man is an envious man.” Until we break the notion that there will ever be equality under capitalism and then strive for equality under an economic system whose purpose is equality, this mindset will not disappear. Capitalism will force this mindset to morph into class-envy and black-on-black violence (economic, political, social). We can’t all climb to the top so people will end up stepping on each other in a manner similar to Kanye.
    good article. I will learn more about Fanon as a result. Please keep writing.

  97. What goes to reinforce your arguments is that Kanye seems (or wants) to ignore the many billionaires or even millionaires that are in emerging countries and some are Africans (old or new money). Yet, he wants acceptance from the old world (read “white establishment”), when the same brands, created and managed by the people he wants respect from and that he worships, are looking towards the new world for financial gains (I hate the term “new world” ….but I digress). Of course I am pointing at Asia, Latin America and very soon Africa (the continent with the highest and most stable growth in recent and upcoming years). Dynamics are pointing at the new moon, yet he decides to stare at the old one. Kanye, indeed, this really makes us wonder what kind of acceptance you need and from whom …

  98. I cannot stop sharing and talking about this article, yu are pure genius to be able to connect the two! So thought provoking, i cannot say enough about this!!

  99. its always so much fun to knock someone and criticize their way of life, because we have it all figured out. I can’t speak of Kanye much, he has achieved extraordinary things and has a platform I can’t relate to. His actions are perplexing to say the least, but regardless of his motives, at least when he speaks, people listen and it gives bloggers a reason to write. Many other activists speak up about issues on a daily basis, and nobody (outside of the activist circle ) will be writing about it, re-tweeting it or debating it. They won’t do any of these because people with passive interest will not care. What Kanye is doing , is obviously having a larger impact. You can call Kanye an imposter all you want, but you need this imposter.

    1. While this was certainly food for thought, and there were some points worth considering, there were also some misses in this article. Just 2 that struck me the most:

      1. “They don’t want him and they never will.” This is where the author begins to lose me…wanting me in your institution has nothing to do with my intents on penetrating it. President Obama certainly did not ask for anyone’s permission or co-sign so putting up that mental barrier just serves to dissuade people from their goals in life. I generally ignore this type of “nay-saying”

      2. Fashion is Kanye’s goal. Not race relations. This author cries him down for wanting to be part of a historically segregationist institution but guess what…what long standing institution isn’t? Further more that dream was given to Kanye, not the author and has nothing to do with her agenda. See my Omaba example. My dream is to be a senior lecturer and publisher, yet you are going to criticize me for wanting to be part of a historically all white fraternity? Come on now.

      Finally, not only is this author trying to inject Kanye’s personal aspirations with the race issue, she is also wrong about him defending black models. In that same Sway interview he criticized the European imagery of what a beautiful woman is supposed to be as is seen on the catwalk, stating that all shapes of women are beautiful. So plz JAM be fair in your critique, instead of inferring correlations between his views on race and his personal consumer habits.

      Congrats to Kanye for dropping Nike and taking up an Adidas deal. I will be looking to see how this young man progresses in the fashion world.

      1. Kayne should use his own money to elevate his business to the level he wants to be. Berry Gordy did it and changed the musical landscape. John Johnson did it and established an African American magazine that still thrives years after his death. A South Los Angeles group of young black males created Cross Colors and energized hip hop fashion in the 90’s. So, in my humble point of view, Kayne needs to stop running his mouth and get busy with his hands.

  100. I really appreciated the way this article got me to think about Kanye. In fact, I appreciate every one of your articles, I’m finding. But your comment that the swastika example is “tired and old” threw me off. Seeing a swastika still generates terror, anger, and sadness, especially among Jews. There are still Holocaust survivors around, my grandmother included, and anti-Semitism is not dead, although I know, of course, that it’s nowhere close to as rampant and systematized as racism.

    And now I’ll get back to reading your work!

  101. Good article. I think it is entirely possible that Kanye is suffering from some kind of mental health disorder relating to the colonized mind. The behaviors are telling and I have no problem with the conclusions drawn above. I will say, however, that any discussion of Kanye’s behavior must include some acknowledgement that his public breakdowns and disconnect from clarity around issues dear to the Black African Diaspora, has occurred after the death his mother (who from all accounts was an intelligent woman with deep understanding white supremacy). It seems to me that after his mother became an ancestor, that nigga went crazy.

  102. Excellent article and one that I will forward to my teenage children. I wonder if in fact the issue is more simplistic and color blind. I suspect that Mr West could be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder. If this is the case, as I suspect it is, his grandiose self perception will never change nor can or will he ever be able to express empathy for others. If it looks good, he will wear it. If it sounds good, he will say it. If he can get away with it, he will take it and without remorse.

  103. Kanye West will NEVER be accepted by the Fashion or any other industry but Music because he is a self-absorbed, arrogant ass who will say outrageous things and put companies in very compromising positions. Its not because he’s black, its simply because he’s a lunatic. If Givenchy made Erykah Badu the new face of its brand, there is proof that not all of them want to exclude diverse cultures. But most certainly all of them want to exclude Kanye, and I don’t blame them.

    1. You are 100% correct. Kanye loves to claim that he’s not getting what he wants – be it approval from White people in general or the fashion industry specifically, because he’s Black, but it is really because he’s an a-hole without no sense of propriety. He’s rude, disrespectful and and, yes, arrogant. But he has somehow convinced himself that these traits will get him further instead of holding him back. This fact alone tells me that the man is delusional.

  104. I LOVE your approach. You are really good writer. Your arguments are solid, there’s no doubting that. And you’ve pulled in quotes of some ‘greats’ that were dead on. Great read!

  105. Amazing piece! I’ve always said that Kanye’s problem is not injustice or inequality, but rather that he’s an adult toddler throwing a hissy fit because he got picked last at PE – in an adult it’s nothing short of narcissistic paranoia. Talking about symbols in fashion (and I guess general). There is a British brand “Boy London” (you must have seen the likes of Rihanna and Rita Ora sporting apparel with Boy written in bold font). One of their designs uses the eagle commonly used by Nazi’s. Going back further, the Swastika is actually a very positive, century-old Hindu symbol. The meaning of symbols, just like culture, is fluid and ever-changing, and meaning is attributed by people and society, which is how it should be not the other way around. The ignorant use of anything should be discouraged, but that doesn’t mean that Kanye wearing the confed flag makes him a bad person, in his defense it could be interpreted as a statement of “your symbols (ie your beliefs) don’t mean anything and have no power”, it’s a provocation of those that would use this symbol against him.

  106. First and foremost Kanye is an artist, and as an artist his job is to polarize to elicit thought- within the context of social experimentation he has crossed no lines. Frankly, I can’t recall another person (not just a black person) who’s recently created such thoughtful dialog across the country. This is especially important in the time where it’s a primary goal of media to pretend we are completely behind racism.

    He is responsible for elevating the intellectual discourse in mainstream black culture. The other day Jay-Z was interviewed and asked about Yeezus on power 105, and I’m paraphrasing but he said, “It forces you to have an opinion because it’s polarizing and that is the hallmark of progressive art. Some things he got right and maybe some things he got wrong. Now the next person can come and correct what he got wrong. In that sense he’s a pioneer”. Before Jayz and Kanye, this level of criticism was not spoken on mainstream radio about rap music.

    Secondly, there are two predominant reasons why the whole baggy-jeans, self-marginalizing “thug” culture is not so popular: (1) the dress code in the NBA, and (2) Kanye West. Hiphop went from empowering the marginalized up to the early 90s to glorifying gangsters, black-on-black crime, self-hate, etc up to the present. Kanye has corrected this significantly, and looking forward, rather than going back to empowering the marginalized, he is taking hiphop to empowering the intellectual, and not the wanna-be-thug.

    If he never does anything again for the rest of his life, these are major accomplishments.

    1. PLEASE LETS NOT CONFUSED TALK WITH ACTION. KANYE TALKS A GOOD GAME AND MY DISAGREEMENT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH NOT LOVING THIS BROTHER, I LOVE HIM WHOLE HEARTLY. BUT, WE MUST BE CONSCIOUS OF THE TALKING AND THE ACTION, WHICH FOR KANYE IS SIMPLY A CONUNDRUM…NOT THAT MUCH DIFFERENT FROM JAY-Z. THE TONGUE IS THE SHARPEST OF BLOUNT INSTRUMENTS, BUT BECOMES A DOUBLE EDGED SWORD WHEN PEOPLE LIKE KANYE AND JAY-Z FALL VICTIM TO THEIR OWN WORDS…WE MUST LIVE WHAT WE SPEAK AT ALL TIMES. OK, SO LETS SAY HE GETS AT THE TABLE, THEN WHAT?… ARE YOU GOING TO CHANGE THE POWER STRUCTURE’S MIND…”NO”. HIS ACTIONS ONLY “DEMON”STRATE HIS WILLINGNESS OF SELF-SACRIFICE TO APPEASE THE VERY POWER STRUCTURE WHO’S OBJECTIVE HAS NOT ONLY BEEN TO OBJECTIFY BUT, EUGENICALLY ANNIHILATE GENETICALLY OUR PEOPLE. THE TONGUE MAY BE MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD BUT, THE ACTIONS OF BROTHERS LIKE THESE TWO AND MANY OTHERS ARE VERY REVEALING.

      :DEYDANYU NESTA AARUNGAH MONROE

    2. Major accomplishments for sure and Kanye’s artistic capabilities are undeniable if not unmatched. Still, that in itself is not an armor from hipocracy and often utter nonsense. He still influences people and I have to agree that his comments on race and actions don’t align whatsoever. So…does he make great clothes and music, absolutely. Is he materialistic and partakes in the brainwashing of our youth, no doubt in my mind. I understand it is hard though and he is a person with an agenda. It is not his job to educate us, unfortunately, it is his job to entertain us. I simply take it with a grain of salt. I look up to him for inspiration but try not to take his statements too seriously since he is in a unique position and will say some unique things that frankly don’t apply to anyone else in the world.

  107. Invokes Frantz Fanon’s most famous work which calls for revolution as the only means of truly eradicating racism. Criticizes Kanye for not advocating reform to allow for upward mobility, and for having the envious gaze of the colonized subject. Doesn’t see the deep irony in holding this position of a liberal “selfless” envy that there might be more opportunity for the possibility of black representation at the colonist’s table.

    Time to re-read Fanon.

    You missed the whole point of The Wretched of the Earth, and worse you are spreading a gross misinterpretation of his thought.

    1. Jumping on this train and throwing mounds of coal into the fire. Please re-read Fanon or trash the secondary source you used to research this article. Lewis Gordon writes a wonderful secondary source that also highlights the concept of the double consciousness abd breaks down how adding words like “potentiated” to the concept of the double consciousness conversation can extrapolate the nuanace of a sessile concept and that of one in motion.

  108. Very interesting perspective. I must say, however, that Kanye understands the importance of getting a seat at the colonizer’s table. One can instigate change at the table of the colonizer and not just outside of the colonizer’s table. It’s not the colonizer’s table that Fanon despises as much as colonized people falling in love with the colonizer and his table. I’m not sure that we can accurately say that this is what has happened to Kayne. I do agree with you, though, that we need his strong public voice protesting the racism at play in Ferguson, Missouri.

  109. You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this matter to be really
    something that I think I would never understand. It seems too complex and extremely
    broad for me. I am looking forward for your next post,
    I’ll try to get the hang of it!

  110. Beautiful article – Frantz Fanon inspires me as well as Du Bois. They seem to speak to my spirit from the grave. As far as for Kanye, he doesn’t inspire nor enervate my persona; but, then again I read. Perhaps, we shouldn’t look to these entertainers to define our cause and focus on our plight from the common man’s perspective.

  111. Reblogged this on Legally Suited and commented:
    Interesting piece, not 100% sure I entirely agree with everything described but this is definitely an interesting perspective that can be used to understand part of the effects of colonisation and the de-colonising process and the issues now facing all those born into a climate with a history of western suppression. Must read!

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  113. Why are you overlooking the historical fact that America’s racist barriers (structural, institutional and otherwise) are broken by exceptional individuals first? Kanye’s agitation for racial equity and justice is individualistic because he is the exceptional person that can lay bare the racist underpinnings of Black exclusion in his proven field of excellence.

    In fact, HE is taking the risk of being an agitator that could (and has) undermine his mainstream popularity and access to resources. There is nothing more revolutionary than risking everything to speak the Truth.
    I will skip writing a “that’s the problem with Black people” paragraph.
    Maybe Kanye’s methods annoy you. However, when you minimize racial justice issues because you don’t like how these issues specifically apply to Kanye West, you also minimize racial justice issues overall.
    Objectively, Kanye is not the Enemy.

    1. You’re speaking gibberish. No where did I overlook anything about America’s racist barriers. This article is about how Kanye laments about those barriers and yet upholds them at the same time when it benefits them. But stay caping Mr Niggas in Paris.

    2. Lmao. Although your a good writer. I fear that you misunderstood this article. What has kanye done to promote change in this country. Every word out of his mind is controversial to promote his own fame. His actions of stupidity also to get more attention. And lets not forget he married a drama queen to further his career. Next time you want to look up to someone how about choosing someone who has more actions than words.

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