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Kanye West’s anti-Semitism did what his anti-Blackness didn’t.  And some people have a problem with that


On the surface, Kanye West’s case seems rather simple and dry.

West made anti-Semitic remarks that caused companies he was affiliated with — including Adidas and Balenciaga — to end their ties with him this week, ending his tenure on the Forbes billionaires list.

But the million dollar question is why it didn’t happen long ago, given West’s history of anti-Black statements.

Over the years, West, who legally changed his name to Ye, made multiple inflammatory statements that angered many in the black community, including his insistence that slavery was a “choice” and that “racism is a dated concept” and, most recently, his inclusion of “White Lives Matter” shirts in his fashion line.

“The answer to why I wrote ‘White Lives Matter’ on a shirt is because they do,” he said in a recent interview with Tucker Carlson.

Yet none of these met with the same decisive and punitive economic consequences as his anti-Semitism.

“I think it’s a fair assessment to say that Kanye’s punishment is integral to the fact that he makes anti-Jewish remarks and that people care little or nothing about making anti-Black remarks,” Illya Davis, director of freshman and senior academic success at Morehouse College in Atlanta told CNN. “Often black suffering is overlooked or minimized in the culture.”

Others observed the same: It seemed like West offended the Jewish community before his empire, which includes music, fashion and tennis shoes, began to crumble.

Journalist Ernest Owens recently tweeted“FACT: Before Kanye West was ‘the face of anti-Semitism,’ he was one of the hip-hop faces of misogynoir, anti-darkness, Trumpism and slavery denial.”

“And you still gave her contracts, documentaries, endorsements, clothing deals, and millions that turned into billions,” Owens wrote. “Shame.”

Author and Washington Post Magazine contributor Damon Young told CNN the situation is a more nuanced discussion than it sometimes appears on social media.

“Because they reduce it to, ‘Okay, well, Kanye said that anti-black thing had no repercussions, but he said that anti-Semitic thing and he did it,'” Young said. “So obviously that has to mean that anti-darkness didn’t move the needle, but anti-Semitism did. And while that might be true, I think there were other things going on. things.

Young said companies run primarily by white executives, for example, often struggle to respond to anti-black sentiments.

“When a black person says things about black people, it’s like, ‘Okay, what do we do? What do we do with that? “, he said. “It’s kind of an easier conversation and an easier path to consequences when you start talking about people you’re not a part of.”

Najja K. Baptist, an assistant professor at the University of Arkansas, told CNN that West has had a lot of leeway with the black community, which has rallied around him at other times in the past, such as when he said in 2005 that then-President George Bush “didn’t care about black people” after Hurricane Katrina and when he spoke about his mental health issues.

“The reason we never completely shut Kanye down is because we cling to that essence of who he was,” Baptist told CNN.

That goodwill waned recently when West falsely suggested that George Floyd was killed by an overdose of fentanyl, despite medical examiner testimony that fentanyl was not the direct cause of Floyd’s death, only a contributing factor after being kneeled by a police officer.

So the anti-Semitic comments were the “straw that broke the camel’s back,” Baptist said, creating a “perfect storm” in which members of both communities decide West should be “cancelled.”

Illya Davis, who is also a professor of philosophy at Morehouse, said the pain and trauma of everyone, no matter what community they are part of, should be met with love and compassion – including West, who, he says, must be corrected and held accountable.

“I think it’s very important for us to somehow include the idea of ​​how we express love, even in the face of contradiction,” he said. “So, as contradictory as this brother may seem, we have to love him, but rightly criticize him and criticize him when he went crazy, when he went off the rails that way.”

Davis said West “thought his class would prevent any criticism of his anti-Jewish remarks.”

“I think he’s a victim of his own arrogance,” Davis added.


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