When Kanye West "called out" President George W. Bush by saying that "...George Bush doesn't care about Black people..." after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, he was regarded by many as a hero that was willing to break live broadcasting rules in order to make an important statement about the status of racial injustice in this country.
With each subsequent, unrehearsed verbal misstep by Mr. West afterwards, however, Kanye has entered the realm of negative credibility, one that diminishes any kudos he may have earned from others.
And it is sad, too.
Not that I believe Kanye West when he said that President Bush was being racist in not coming to the aid of New Orleans in a quicker fashion - I don't, but I know that we could be here all day talking about the protocol between local, state, and federal levels of government during an emergency of that magnitude, so I digress. I believe that at the same level that same level as I believe Van Jones and the conspiracy of our government allowing 9-11 to happen; (you see how much flak came from both sides on that "theory.") However, Kanye's proclamations on live television in 2005 made for interesting conversation about where we stood as a nation regarding race. That dialogue, in many ways, was not only constructive, but also gauged how we stood as a nation in accepting other racial realities in the 21st century.
Like having a Black president.
Now that Kanye has used his "ad lib manifesto" points up on music awards (now acting inappropriately again at ceremonies repeatedly, including his famous incident with Taylor Swift for which he had to call her personally to apologize only after being called out by Taylor Swift and others), his infamous 2005 opinion seems more like an immature rant from an emotional guy than it does an educated opinion from an outspoken community leader that analyzed the facts and spoke out for justice.
And, again, that is sad.
Not that I'm a fan of Taylor Swift. I didn't even know who she was until Monday morning. Nor was I a big supported of the 43rd president - me and the other 78% of Americans that watched him leave office in January with a 22% approval rating.
Now, perhaps Kanye didn't help the former president directly with his actions on Sunday night, but he surely didn't help the legacy of his (West's) comments from 2005. After repeated incidents of speaking out due to feeling "wronged" - a lot including being "wronged" by Whites in some capacity - some may say that West overreacts with covert charges of racism whenever things don't go his way. That behavior, the logic would go, is what prompted the outburst in 2005, not some actual racist and devious plot against the people of New Orleans. It proves a dark mark on the benefits of the 2005 conversation.
Racist motives are theories that we saw promoted at times with President Bush in power. It's something we are certainly seeing with President Obama in the White House.
And although racism is certainly something that we have seen in America during both presidents' administrations, it is something that we need to see to being careful about throwing out there moving forward.
Not every criticism or wrongdoing is based on race. Not every slight is because we're Black. The race card - because of its explosiveness and its viscosity - has to be held back from being approached at all costs, even by us.
Lest we come across like the guy that spoke up too much too often and discredit ourselves completely in the process.