Opinion

Kanye West and the politics of protest: Why are we so uneasy about Yeezy ?

“I have marched until my feet have bled and I have rioted until they called the feds. What’s left my conscious said ...”

“Revolution” (Arrested Development)

Recently, to the applause of some and the boos and hisses of others, Kanye West, aka “Yeezy,” met with President Donald Trump. While West’s supporters congratulated him, his critics said this was the most embarrassing thing to happen in pop culture since the Milli Vanilli scandal of ‘89 .

Kanye may not be the ideal ambassador to bring the grievances of the American public before the POTUS, but, as the homie Desiderius Erasmus once said, “In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.”

I have never been partial to politics. The few times in my 25-plus years of activism that I, reluctantly, traveled down that dark road, when I got home I always felt the need to take a hot shower. My style has been to take it to the street, to cut out the middleman.

Case in point, after years of trying to convince politicians about the evils of having so many liquor stores in poor communities, one day I discovered that it was more politically expedient to just chase liquor delivery trucks out of the hood and be done with it.

Other activists have used similar unconventional tactics to get their points across. Despite the championing of the “patience is a virtue” mumbo jumbo by elected officials, disruption of the status quo does seem to light a fire under their britches. One could make a strong argument that if the young activists would have waited for the slow wheels of justice to turn, the Confederate statues in Durham and Chapel Hill would have been there for all eternity.

A wise man once said “voting is a democracy’s alternative to rioting in the streets,” a way to keep the peasants from storming the Bastille once a year. However, I think that voting, in most cases, is overrated. As an African American, I am tired of being bombarded with the not-so-veiled threat, every election season, that if I don’t rush to the polls, some white man with a whip is gonna show up at my front door the next day with a pair of raggedy overalls commanding me to pick his cotton.

Contrary to popular opinion, voting is not our only option. While I may not be out there waving the flag of voter registration, I do know that you can vote till the cows come home but if you do not show up at city council, county commissioner, and school board meetings en masse, then your concerns will just fall on deaf ears.

At the end of the day, it’s really not about Kanye West. And it is an indictment on us if we expect a rapper or an athlete to lead us to the Promised Land.

So what is the best way to fight for change? Is it having lunch with Trump, ubering to the polls or throwing a trash can through a window a la “Do the Right Thing.” One thing for sure is that we live in an era where people are fed up with the way things have been going, lately.

Whether the meeting in DC was a sincere effort to speak truth to power or just some convoluted publicity scheme remains to be seen. However, If one truly subscribes to the democratic idea, then Kanye’s approach is the most logical conclusion. If not, we may witness James Baldwin’s cryptic, biblically based prophecy come to pass. “No more water, the fire next time.”

Paul Scott’s column appears on the first and third Saturdays of the month. Follow him at NoWarningShotsFired.com or on Twitter @NWSF

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