Kanye's Masculinity to Right Wing Pipeline
From R Kelly, to DaBaby, to Kanye the responses are always the same from some folks: “oh you didn’t care when this Black artist was attacking Black people but now you care when he attacks whites/gays/non-Blacks?” I’ve always found this response to be odd. It’s Black people asking for other communities to hold our own accountable when we didn’t do it ourselves. We didn’t crackdown on Kanye then for denigrating Black folks though we should have. And honestly criticisms on Black Twitter don’t matter because Twitter doesn’t matter.
The actual contention with “you didn’t cancel him till only after he insulted non-Black people” comments is that other communities did what many Black folks especially cultural leaders did not and held Kanye accountable. If Kanye’s remarks about colorism and Black women were so offensive, he could’ve been dropped by the Black community, Black culture and commentators but he wasn’t. Other communities don’t tolerate degrading remarks, so we’re left gawking that Black men superstars can’t be freely homophobic, antisemitic or insensitive in the way they are to other Black people.
It’s not other communities’ job to police anti-Blackness and misogyny from Black men. Considering how much of popular Black media is already rampant with this stuff, logically other communities just assume “that’s how Blacks are” and gawk at us. How embarrassing would it be for white people or Asians or Jews to step in and tell Black people what they should be offended by.
But we all know that cancelling a popular Black man for bigotry is hard because there’s a lot of Black people who will defend it. After all where does the phrase “cancelling” come from? That’s right, R. Kelly. A man who for years everyone knew had abused and molested Black girls and women to the extent it was basically a running gag in Black media. (Both R Kelly’s crimes and Black people’s comical defense of him). Only after a herculean consorted campaign to stop listing to his music and “cancel” him was he finally brought down — and no shortage of Black folks making fools of themselves on camera defending him through and through. Want to do Bill Cosby next?
The truth of the matter is that there is a lot of comical masculinity rampant with misogyny, homophobia and bigotry in the Black community. It’s not a secret — it’s long been openly discussed among Black academics, but Kanye's behavior unfortunately has showcased it to a largely non-Black audience. The real reason why non-Black media didn’t cancel Kanye earlier is because they think anti-Blackness by Black people, especially towards Black women, is an inherent part of our culture.
The sad thing about Kanye is that his mental illness doesn’t really inform his beliefs but rather makes him vulnerable to saying them. From a very early period, he’s internalized excessive amounts of anti-Blackness imposed on him by Eurocentric beauty standards in both media and the fashion industry. He’s regularly stated that his fair skinned and biracial preferences in women exclude Black women with his own skin color. That’s not a dunk against interracial relationships — after all I’m in one — but there’s a difference between finding love in spite of someone’s skin color and chasing love because of their skin color.
From there on he dyed his hair blonde, put himself on display for Donald Trump and befriended Republican-operative Candace Owens. Married to Kim Kardashian, the Black billionaire thought he had finally achieved the success of whiteness he long chased after. But once he was divorced, that all crashed down on him: he wasn’t as white as he thought. His insecurity flared up when his ex-wife chose to date a white boy and from there on out, like most Black men insecure about their identities, ran to primitive bigotries offered by the right.
I understand where Kanye’s dislike of the American Left (meaning liberal) comes from. It is the same impulse I get seeing Black Lives Matter signs in yards of million dollar homes in white neighborhoods. Being told you’re oppressed and can’t help yourself, or presumed to have a political position because of your skin color is quite demeaning. Unfortunately, feeling as though he was lacking in his masculinity, he’s turned to Black Hebrew Israelite nonsense. If you’ve ever seen a Trump Rally with the “Blacks For Trump” goofballs behind Trump, they too are the Black Hebrew Israelite.
Irrespective of its teaching, these Black Hebrew Israelites are an organization of Black men insecure about their masculinity who compensate by trying to embrace and commandeer right-wing ideas about society under a Black patriarch philosoph. Usually its just reserved for nuts on the street corner demeaning Black women for having straight hair, but with Kanye’s remarks it’s made it into the big leagues.
Make no mistake, these aspects of Black male culture are the direct product of white supremacy. A white society that has emasculated Black men so much through incarceration and lack of income that the only thing a Black man can feel comfortable in being masculine in is aggressiveness and physical strength. (It’s also not lost on me those traits are why Black people were kidnapped to American to begin with).
But men like Kanye who are wealthy don’t have justification to be so comically aggressive in their behaviors; rather it shows even with immense wealth how destructive internalizing white-created caricatures of Black men have on even the wealthiest Black man.
Antisemitism is a lowly, uneducated, irrational belief system popular among the ignorant. Black Americans and Jewish Americans have a long history of being persecuted by white supremacist organizations and power structures. Blacks and Jews often worked together during the Civil Rights Movement. It doesn’t mean Jews are immune to anti-Blackness and it doesn’t mean Jews don’t benefit from privileges afforded to whites over Blacks. But the people Kanye had bad relations with were bad for their actions — not because they were Jews — and his failure to understand that should not be coddled by other Black men.
This isn’t about Black respectability politics. I think any Black person has a right to express themselves however they want to — with durags or with suits, in slang or otherwis, with their pants up or sagging. The point though is that the American Right isn’t our friend and isn’t going to stop hating us because we hate on Jews.
Kanye and others being patted on the head by the right-wing people whose entire political project is keeping Blacks beneath Whites to win the votes of insecure white men should be an obvious red flag. Responding towards the demeaning rhetoric of white liberals and the white left by becoming the thing they hate without evaluating if it’s right or not is the dumbest, most unintelligent thing a man of any race can do.
Above all, if you’re truly confident in your masculinity as a Black man, it shouldn’t require aggression and demeaning language towards Black women or other Black people of various sexual orientations to accomplish it.