Thursday, September 17, 2009

How Kanye West Helped George Bush's Legacy

Kanye West seemed like an American willing to take a stand against injustice when he spoke out against President Bush during Hurricane Katrina. Now after another public speaking snafu, it just seems like he merely spoke out of line - again.

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.

1 comment:

  1. So would you apply the same thinking to Joe Wilson. Should his detractors who accuse him of being racially motivated be vindicated? After all Wilson does have a questionable past as it relates to race. He's a proud Son of the Confederate, one of 7 who voted for the Confederate flag to maintain a symbol of SC, in spite its bloody and insidious past. He also made disparaging remarks about his hero, Strom Thurmond's, half black daughter. NOw it is also quite possible that he lied about being an immigration attorney. He once signed a bill allowing tax money to pay for health care for illegal immigrants. kanye was certainly displaying his inner child and it was inappropriate. His assessment was subjective but what he said about Bush is definitely debatable. Personally like most REpublicans, I don't think Bush really thought about black Americans. It's difficult for me take black Republicans seriously because like Steele you guys never speak out against institutionalized racism. Forget poor decorum and childish expletives, when will you truly stand up. Race card? What race card, race is a social construct as I'm sure you are fully aware of and it is insidious in it's outcomes. Most blacks don't complain about racism because not only will whites not believe them but blacks like yourself will downplay or dismiss it because you don't want us to live as "victims" and yet many minorities are victimized, it doesn't disappear because you look the other way. The blacks I know are fighters and yet they are capable of identifying racism, in employment practices, the judicial system, health care, education and housing.
    God Bless you Mr. McAllister