Kanye West and Jimmy Kimmel got into it a little while ago when Kimmel mocked an Radio 1 interview that ‘Ye did with Zane Lowe. Kanye took it “back to highschool” (his own words) and used the ever-popular twitter rant/rampage method to voice his opinion. In a bid to hash things out and show everyone else how okay they were, Kanye went for an interview on Kimmel’s show to discuss things. The interview was cool, I wasn’t okay with Yeezy wearing a denim tunic but whatevs, and I was with him up until about 17minutes in.
Our precious marmite flavoured hip-hop star has things a little…misconstrued. He seems to think that racism is “old school” and that classism is the latest, hippest form of oppression. I wonder if Trayvon Martin’s family and friends feel like that, or Jonathan Ferrell’s, or Mark Dugan’s or Smiley Culture’s. You don’t really have to look far to see that racism is still reigning and doing it’s thing. Kanye’s reasoning for coming to that conclusion is that Kim West* (nee Kardashian) was denied a star on the Hollywood walk of fame because she’s “just” a reality TV star, and by ‘Ye’s analysis, new money rich.
Someone needs to tell Yeezy that they don’t just give stars to anyone. That star is awarded to those who have contributed a significant amount of work to the entertainment industry over many, many years. A star on the walk of fame is like a Nobel Prize for Literature, you need to create classics (more than one) before they even sniff in your direction.
But anyway, Kanye seems to think that the lack of respect being awarded to Kim and himself from the fashion and entertainment industries, has to do with the fact that they’re new money rich and don’t have dynasties behind their names – hence the classism. Two important things Kanye has failed to take into account:
1. Although Kim may be new money rich, she doesn’t come from a poor/working class background. Her father was a famous entertainment lawyer and the lawyer of OJ Simpson during that infamous trail, which was the most expensive at the time. Her step-daddy was an Olympic gold medalist. She’s hardly had to beg for food.
2. The fashion industry is institutionally racist. It seems that Kanye doesn’t realize that his money is the reason why he’s able to sit down and speak with the heads of Versace and YSL and Gucci, etc. They don’t just sit and talk to any old Kwame. This year alone the fashion industry has been called out on most things between cultural appropriation and black face. Kane needs to understand that money won’t buy him a new race, whoever he’s sitting with still sees his (gorgeous) mahogany tones, plump lips, and low-cut afro hair. Until he starts his own clothing label & establishes himself as a high fashion designer, he won’t be taken seriously. And even then, many may still not sneeze in his direction.
The problem is though, Kanye’s popularity puts him on a platform where people (of different races and wage packets) listen to him. His comments have people saying “yeah, he’s right, racism is sooo old school”, meaning that it’s going to be ignored even more than it is, and more people will suffer for it. Between the UK and America alone, racism is notorious. Black men are constantly killed by white hands for being black, and black women are constantly being denied jobs because they have names that sound too “ethnic.”
This isn’t to say that classism is irrelevant, it’s not, it too is very destructive in our societies and oppresses many, in fact both are often linked (POC tend to be the poorest in their communities), we should be using our efforts to combat both instead of placing one above the other.
Watch the full interview here:
*No, they’re not officially married yet.
*Make no jokes about MJ