Can we finally have this conversation about Ye, fame and mental illness?
As innovative as born rapper Kanye West has been in the worlds of music and fashion, I doubt there is a living rapper relevant enough to successfully be a black white supremacist.
After a month of outrageous rants, West’s run to the bottom hit a new low when news broke that the rapper, wearing a full face mask, spoke fondly of Adolf Hitler during an interview with the host. of Infowars Alex Jones.
“I see good things about Hitler,” said the South Side native, who legally changed his name to Ye, in one of the weirdest sentences ever uttered by a black man. As a reminder, his Twitter account was suspended later in the day after posting an image of a swastika combined with the Star of David, because West loves subtlety.
His support for Hitler and his ideals are a direct betrayal of the black American experience and all of his hard-won gains, but that is his own business to reconcile. Surely the biggest casualty in all of this has been his bank account. West himself said he lost $2 billion after companies like Adidas, Gap and fashion house Balenciaga cut ties with him, and several retailers dropped his Yeezy products. West is still worth around $400 million, according to Forbes magazine. “Money is not who I am. People are who I am,” he said in an Instagram post in October.
Some have sought to separate West’s anti-Semitism from mental illness, although I really find it hard to believe that any sane person would deliberately take up a flamethrower for their own career and business dealings from a billion dollars.
West has bipolar disorder, a mental health condition known to cause severe emotional swings that can affect sleep, judgment, behavior and the ability to think clearly, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Some mental health professionals suggest West’s mental health issues are separate from his offensive comments.
“We want to recognize that this person may have their own very strong beliefs about religion or politics, and we want to say that’s separate from the mental health diagnosis,” said Carla Manly, clinical psychologist and author of “Joy from Fear”. United States today.
“There are a lot of people who don’t have mental health issues who are racist and bigoted. And there are people with mental health issues who are neither racist nor bigoted. We want to see these issues as two very different issues,” she says.
It’s certainly possible that West had these deplorable views before his fame, but can anyone say for sure that the destruction of his marriage and personal brand is also completely unrelated to his mental illness?
Part of me wondered if this month-long anti-Semitism tour that started with a big reveal at Paris Fashion Week involving a T-shirt with the slogan “White Lives Matter” was really a live performance piece. exaggerated that was stuffed with more irony and hidden meaning than a Jordan Peele movie.
Another part wondered if this was just a ploy to quickly offload the weight of his business entanglements so that he could continue a wandering existence like the Buddha.
In truth, West exhibited erratic behavior for years before he began peddling Jewish conspiracies.
There was the “Slavery was a choice” and Harriet Tubman “never actually freed the slaves” Kanye. In 2013 he released the track “Black Skinhead”, which now sounds more ominous given his recent turn to Nazism.
There was “fk the youth of Chicago” Kanye, who allegedly made this statement in 2018 to former friend and Chicago rap collaborator Che “Rhymefest” Smith, who alleged that West had abandoned the charity named in the honor of his mother.
Then there’s the seemingly unlikely friendship with reality TV star-turned-President Donald Trump. But it was the MAGA hat-wearing rapper who hugged Trump in the Oval Office that made me realize the couple weren’t so weird.
In all the ways that matter, Trump and West are the same guy. They both owe their debut in the political arena to the public insults of former President Barack Obama. Neither reads books, but both men like to brag about their wealth, be seen with beautiful women, and show spite towards their enemies. Now they both speak fondly of murderous dictators and each runs the risk of slipping into obscurity.
West’s fall to rock bottom is hard to watch when you consider that not too long ago he was Chicago’s golden child, the newest member of its pantheon of Black Chicago products that had become international sensations, such as “Soul Train”, Oprah, Michael Jordan and Obama. I’m still hazy watching his deeply personal acceptance speech from the 2005 Grammy Awards for Best Rap Album.
At the time, Mayor Richard M. Daley saw West’s rising star and made him an ambassador for local arts. West organized free concerts for Chicago public school students, guiding them toward performing and visual arts.
Fast forward 17 years, and West’s legacy has become so toxic that the School of the Art Institute rescinded the honorary doctorate it awarded him in 2015 following an online petition.
West is now the black sheep that is spoken of only in low voices in public places. Bring Kanye to any barber shop, barber shop or family dinner and you’ll instantly get eye rolls and an exasperated sigh and long, mournful lamentations over his inexplicable fall into infamy.
Is he seeking influence or is he subconsciously calling for help? Among local fans, there’s a prevailing thought that West may have lost his way after the 2007 death of his mother, Donda, a former Chicago State University faculty member.
I was not surprised to find few people, especially black people, in the world of entertainment, media or activism willing to discuss West’s comments on the record of an article I have wrote in October, when his barrage of hate speech began.
It’s like a comedy Dave Chappelle performed about actor Jussie Smollett – many of us would rather step back in the background and watch events unfold in silence than publicly denounce a revered black figure.
West’s literal embrace of Trump didn’t stop hundreds of hip youngsters from flocking to the North Island for one of his public ‘Sunday Service’ performances in 2019. If local activists had issues with his change of political position, it was nowhere to be found. in June 2020, when West briefly joined a protest march with hundreds of young people chasing him in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd. Wearing a face mask and black hoodie, West said nothing and kept his head down during the march, but then pledged to donate $2 million to support the families of Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, according to dispatches.
A harsh reality is that we as fans can find ourselves deaf to allegations against celebrities we adore. Many of us are guilty of this.
Once home to a splendid, dazzling nightlife and some of the brightest stars in the black world, Chicago’s Southside neighborhood is now starving for role models as the exodus of black residents continues. Sadly, many of the city’s recent success stories, like R. Kelly, rapper King Von and Jennifer Hudson, are tinged with tragedy.
Turning a blind eye is a familiar issue here in Chicago, where for decades fans ignored singer Kelly’s alliances with young girls because of his oft-praised “musical genius” and the way his music made us feel. The result was a series of emotionally broken young women who came out publicly to demand retaliation for his crimes.
I’ve heard people say dismissively that West’s rants were just “Kanye being Kanye,” or in other words, the understood eccentricity that comes with exploiting the brains of such a gifted performer.
West may be an artist of undeniable talent, but fans young and old should stand firm in lavishing excessive praise on young performers, constantly distorting their reality and sense of self – especially when this star subjects the others to his rants but flees. whenever his interlocutor pushes back in the slightest, as West did.
It’s not just the West. It’s Aaron Carter. It’s Ezra Miller. It’s Britney Spears. It’s Will Smith. It’s the suffocating pressure of the public spotlight and the inability to adapt to the age of social media. Not everyone can comfortably adjust to being a household name that is secretly watched and recorded by strangers every time they leave the house.
In a perfect world, we could calmly tell our favorite stars that we love their art and how it has affected our lives without subjecting them to the unwanted creeping voyeurism that comes with modern stardom.
West is expected to step out of the public eye as he did briefly earlier this year following accusations of bullying Pete Davidson. But for real this time. Travel the world without entourage or trappings to your wealth and success and truly consider the effect your words have. It goes without saying that working to improve your mental health and reduce your stress is a top priority.
For now, I choose to remember West during his shining moment on that Grammy stage as vulnerable and humble as we would ever see him. As fans, we’ll never really know the massive pressure stars and their sanity until we put them on a shaky pedestal and put a microphone in their hand.
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