Kanye West and the Book Always Judged
So it's safe to say Kanye West has the world in a frenzy, an uproar, a craze. You call it what you want: I call it genius. Well, some of it. It took me a few days to come to this point. Now just a heads up, I'm going to write this freehandedly, I don't plan to edit my thoughts or ideas to follow through on Kanye's idea of #Freethought. I am currently riding on the 1 train downtown, on the way to the gym and my apple music just started playing J. Cole's "Neighbors", just to give you an idea of why I wanted to write this little piece.
The first line Cole states "I guess the neighbors think I'm selling dope..." and how foretelling that is for the perception of someone else to be considered more valuable than your own life. Now if you know the story of J. Cole's "Neighbors" then you should know exactly what I'm talking about. How the perception of someone else's view on J. Cole and the Dreamville artists plus what they assumed the artists were involved in, lead to a million dollar SWAT raid on their North Carolina music studio. See how easily someone's perception can ruin something good.
Now the neighbors may not have known he was a rapper but based on appearance, his in and out movements, it was perceived that a music studio was actually a drug house. For a SWAT team to break into anyone else's property there is a lot of paperwork involved, a lot of investigations, a lot of prep work but this is why we are the book that's always judged because since J. Cole is the owner of this property, the police had to have known who J. Cole was or his occupation, but they still felt the need to raid his studio despite his image in the public eye.
But had this been a white musician, would this have happened? We both know the answer to this. But fuck it, life is about perception; when you are not actively living through something, it's easy to assume what is going on or create a prediction of someone else's thoughts or actions and even meanings at times.
As a colored man in America, the notion that we are judged on how we look has created a large emphasis on our appearance. In our world, WE are the books that are always being judged. We can walk around with less than the name brand and be judged on not dressing well enough.
Or, we can buy all the designer wear the world has to offer and still be judged on that. No matter what we wear or how we do our hair, how we tone or shape our bodies, there is always a judgment that follows. We will forever be judged - forever be viewed as an amusement whether it's through sports or music. If not to that extreme that people fear us, women grab their purses as if we are the only thieves they've ever come across.
Why is the world so fascinated/afraid of us? Have you ever wondered that? Maybe because we are either viewed as more than human by some or sub-human by others. We are never just regular as everyone else is. We will be viewed as that "Exhibit A" spectacle when we are at our best and when we care less about our image or talents, the world's view of us is dissected, discussed and compared as less than by the media and the masses. In other words, we are overanalyzed and undervalued. This is a form of mental enslavement, believe it or not. To be shackled by appearance, to be judged by your name or skin color, to feel the need to "lighten up" to fit in is a form of slavery in my eyes. The truth of the matter is, we all are responsible. So if you think about it, everyone just wants to be accepted so let's analyze things for what they are. So why do people rob and murder each other?
Unfortunately and honestly that's nothing new. But colored people kill other colored people in the hood for that chance to be marveled at since vanity is the obsession here as well as the enslavement theory. The chance to be viewed higher than where we started; to be the top dog, at least appearance wise. Robberies happen because of the case of the "I Don't Have/Got's" and the ever-growing jealousy of wanting the recognition that comes with certain lifestyles.
Seems like global peer pressure in the tangled webs we weave. Isn't this a form of mental enslavement? We don't have to wear shackles and chains to be slaves. We - as Kendrick has stated many songs ago - are vanity slaves. We can't break the habit; we need Jordans, we need Yeezys, we need that validation to make us who we are. But why, oh why are we still playing the "game"? Now if you haven't noticed, I don't fully agree with Kanye by any means but he had some valid points as I demonstrated with mental enslavement.
Now I stayed up until 3 am last night watching the Kanye interview with the hopes of clowning him for his idiotic tweets, but that brought a revelation to me. I was judging a book by the cover without lending an ear to hear why he felt that way. He has an opinion like everyone else and while we are not entitled to agree with it, why are so we entitled to judge it? We depend so much on celebrities to say something worthwhile to help disenfranchised people but does that ever really happen? So why do we wait for a wing and a prayer for them to come save us from ourselves? Kanye is Lakeith Stanfield's character in Get Out, who is fully caught in the matrix but still has the wherewithal to tell Daniel Kaaluya's character to get out. Think about that. Kanye knows he's 100% in the matrix but this out-of-sunken-place moment where he's telling us about mental enslavement did have some importance to it based on what he said.
The problem with the world is that no one listens. We take sound bites and run with the misinformation we heard through "so and so" to slander or put down the next human. I call this the crabs in the bucket theory. I'm not saying Kanye's idea was correct with his slavery comments but the truth is that he has a major point. We're so infatuated with slavery and being HSP, highly sensitive people, that we can't seem to grow because when we are placed outside of our comfort zone we cry afoul. We squirm, we flinch, we live in fear.... Shall I Continue?
YES, YOU CAN.
Let's take the word Nigger, for instance. We all know what it meant, we all know what it means now and how we use it and we all know who can't say it anymore. Take a second to analyze that. We took a stand with this word - and it's just a word - and we have a universal rule that if the wrong party says it, we have consequences for breaking this law; an unspoken law. People have gotten their asses beaten for saying it in a disrespectful way. So why don't we take this same stance on things that matter? Not saying violence is the answer for everything and in no way am I saying beat people up for doing something offensive but we need to incorporate that same principle of enforcement with the things we want to change, things that truly matter.
There need to be non-negotiable laws enforced by us as the colored people to maintain our dignity and respect. If left unchecked people will test boundaries. Supporting black businesses is another thing that needs to be enforced, a universal law to stop killing people who come back to the hood who can help others in the hood. Prime example, Stack Bundles, Chinx Drugz, Lil Snupe, the list goes on. Give people a chance to make a change if you're not running up on previous politicians on not making changes to do so, stop running up on rappers killing them in the streets for a rep. That's ultimately doing your hood a disservice, we need to help each other, the theory of crabs in a bucket is very specific. As the crabs in the bucket pull each other down as they're trying to escape the belly of the beast, unbeknownst to these "crabs", sooner or later they all get cooked.
Will it be a harder journey? Yes but it's not impossible. And I say that to say this: we have to apply that same logic to changing the world and branch out to bigger and better things, reach for more defined dreams, not just rappers, and ball players. That's easy for us. Sometimes we need to take the difficult roads and become a lawyer and doctor or even a police officer to help facilitate the change we seek. Nothing is given if we want to change, it is up to us, and that's how I believe the world will change.
We have to get used to being outside of our comfort zone, but unfortunately, the only way to grow is self-assessment and stepping outside of the comfort box. The second thing we learned from Trump is that there is blatant racism that still exists within America, but it only exists because we allow it. As fucked up as it sounds, we do. To change it we have to become the lawmakers, the even justice, and stop reverting to only our hood for the means to success. That's no slight to my people because it's easy to say we don't have the resources.
Nobody worth mentioning started with everything they wanted. Sometimes you have to put in a little extra, travel a little further, do a little more to get to where you want to be. Not only that though, you also need to double back and supply those shortcuts to your loved ones because we need to do more for each other to orchestrate generational wealth. There were many "foreigners" who came to America (after slavery) and those people are more established within America for sticking together for years to develop the little towns or business they own now on American soil.
We need to stick together and in time these judgments won't matter. We will be the judges and enforcers made to balance the world. I can say so much more but we need to build more for each other, with each other, and that's how we start. Colored people recently came together this year for the Black Panther movie and it sold a billion dollars, that's fucking huge. Imagine if we did that all the time! We have power, we just need to learn how to use it. Imagine that effort was used to collectively buy stocks, bonds, and property. Think on that shit. Generational wealth is obtainable if we teach generational health and build with thy neighbor, friends, and foes if needed.