Sunday, May 13, 2018

Ta-Nahisi Coates: "I'm Not Black, I'm Kanye"

Wow this is just not good.
That's about the nicest thing I can think to say about. I still have a weird kind of semi-soft spot for Coates, even though he jumped the shark some time ago. He's a good writer when he's on--so there's something nicer, actually. Maybe the incidental themes in the essay are worthwhile...I dunno. I'm not terribly sharp about such things. But the key paragraph seems to be this one:
What Kanye West seeks is what Michael Jackson sought—liberation from the dictates of that we. In his visit with West, the rapper T.I. was stunned to find that West, despite his endorsement of Trump, had never heard of the travel ban. “He don’t know the things that we know because he’s removed himself from society to a point where it don’t reach him,” T.I. said. West calls his struggle the right to be a “free thinker,” and he is, indeed, championing a kind of freedom—a white freedom, freedom without consequence, freedom without criticism, freedom to be proud and ignorant; freedom to profit off a people in one moment and abandon them in the next; a Stand Your Ground freedom, freedom without responsibility, without hard memory; a Monticello without slavery, a Confederate freedom, the freedom of John C. Calhoun, not the freedom of Harriet Tubman, which calls you to risk your own; not the freedom of Nat Turner, which calls you to give even more, but a conqueror’s freedom, freedom of the strong built on antipathy or indifference to the weak, the freedom of rape buttons, pussy grabbers, and fuck you anyway, bitch; freedom of oil and invisible wars, the freedom of suburbs drawn with red lines, the white freedom of Calabasas.
God, what a wreck. I'm not going to wade into that mess. "White freedom"? Jesus, man! I don't pay any attention to West...and I'm on the verge of not paying any attention to Coates. I don't necessarily blame him. His progressive fans tend to fawn slavishly over everything he writes. It's got to make you lose your grip. If you can't get honest feedback, then it's extremely difficult to generate good stuff.
   As for West's "slavery was a choice"... Well, damn. What're you even going to say about that? I could imagine some sort of strained interpretation that might make that worth offering up as some sort of fodder for thought...but I'm not really interested in doing so. That's the kind of thing that could, as my father used to say, make the Pope cuss. So that's a kind of excusing condition in the vicinity, maybe. Bit I'm not going to take sides as between "slavery was a choice" and "white freedom."


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