Do not gleam in my mixed race heritage any support of Kyrie Irving and Donald Glover’s dismissal of black women, or any support for Kanye West’s obsession with Taylor Swift.
My mother insisted that I respected the black women in my life and the black women around me. She read to me/had me read black women at an early age, wanted me to understand the full range of oppression in regards to my history, and made sure I was around my grandmother and aunts as much as possible. My mother was also an African American lit major (UW, 1973) at a time when color struck black men( Baraka, Bullins, Walcott, Cleaver, Ture) were coming for her neck. She had me around black women not just because she wanted me to respect them, but also because she wanted me to respect HER as well. She wanted me to love a woman for her qualities, not because their color made them a cultural toy; for when one see someone as a toy they don’t see them as a human.
It must be said that a lot of the people finally done with Kanye obsessing over Taylor Swift were mum when he was obsessing and threatening violence over his black ex fiance( Black men abusing black women is more profitable and popular a product than Coca Cola). It also must be said that, as a human being, Swift has the right to the tree of life, no matter how twee and boring her records are. A lot of people are scared to call Kanye on his shit( the temper tantrum at award shows, the video where he had a cut off picture of her head, the incessant mentions of her in interviews) because of “privilege” and an oppression olympic argument. Yes, people should understand their privilege in particular situations, but there comes a point where you lose sight of an individual’s humanity.
Kanye as an artist? Rhymefest’s ghostwriting pen is long gone, and it’s impossible not to notice his absence. It’s impossible not to notice that-when fest had more an imprint-Kanye’s records were tight, impeccably crafted, and filled with a grounded street corner sensibility that made them very listenable. It is also impossible not to notice that- now,when fest is completely gone-Kanye sounds like noting but a disturbed art school jerkoff. Ye has always had a disturbing Doestoevskian identification binary (” to the hustlers’ killers, murders and drug dealers, EVEN the strippers, Jesus Walks with them”,) and-as megan seling noticed-the core of “famous” is that powerful women are in bed and equated with men-bill cosby, chris brown, Donald trump, George W bush-who are abusive monsters.
If I were alive on July 1, 1951, and I wrote about
A: a moderate talent hampered by his sociopathic obsession with white women and who consciously crafted his work free from any cultural signifers to black people, and
B: a middle class kid with a skeevy interest in sex, who is so obsessed with black people not understanding his story that he often forgets to develop his own one.
You could easily assume I would be writing about Richard Wright, Chester Himes and Frank Yerby, the hipster culture heroes before the civil rights movement. So why-when on July 1, 2016, they describe West, Glover, and Irving-do I have to pretend that the cultural discussions we are having about them them are new? In these agonizing, retrograde, backlash fueled discussions about the oppressive structures girding black male privilege, why are we pretending that any of it is “futuristic”; that a new generation is “telling their story”, that we are doing anything except what we are actually doing, which is ignore 65 years of intellectual struggles that actually happened?
My mother-Glennis Lashley-yearned to tell new stories, and yearned to be a part of a cultural mosaic that was better than what she knew. It is sickening that-in the cultural discussions we are having about Kanye West-she-along with the black women in my life and a whole bunch of people- is being erased from history.