If I’m ever asked what the most significant moments in recent African-American history are, I will say Barack Obama’s presidential win and Kanye West’s emotional off-script rant during the Katrina telethon.
Not too long ago, I’d gotten into a really contentious debate about this Kanye incident after a friend argued that Kanye, in his typical “act-now-think-later” fashion, had perpetuated the sterotype that black people are incapable of handling injustices in a civilly appropriate way. The friend went on to say that Yeezy’s remarks were ill-timed—4 days after the storm hit—as it contributed to dividing our nation in a time when we most need to stand united.
Needless to say, I disagreed….passionately. I’ve felt for some time now that my generation has become increasingly stoic about injustices. Most of us rarely, if ever, feel a need to stand up and publicly voice dissatisfaction with social wrongs. We’ve grown to be so complacent; so accustomed to reaping the benefits of our predecessors and their marches, rallies, sit-ins and civil disobedience. NOW, we can’t even recognize a worthy cause even when it’s splattered across our 52-inch HD TV screens. So, Mr. West asked himself “What would Malcolm do?” And responded in a way that would have made Brother Malcolm proud (Truthfully, I’d argue that ‘Ye was doing the same thing when he famously interrupted Taylor Swift at the MTV Video Music Awards—I’m just saying).
While so many kids (and adults, for that matter) would give the “real” award to gangsta rappers for their hardcore lyrics and probably perceive Kanye as the less-threatening alternative, I tip my hat to Yeezy for publicly speaking out in defense of his people in the face of adversity. Now, that’s gangsta.
And for the record, if you’re wondering what sparked this random post dedicated to ‘Ye, well, this August 29th (your favorite bloggers birthday) marks Katrina’s 6th anniversary. But more significantly….I think this says it all.