Disliking Kanye West Doesn't Mean I'm a Racist
By: Chris O'Shea
It's OK to be a white person who is frustrated by Kanye West. That might seem obvious, but the aftermath of West's epic Twitter rant against Jimmy Kimmel necessitates it be reiterated. The feud is nothing more than the clash of two pop personalities, but it became something much bigger than that. On Twitter and elsewhere, Kimmel was labeled as being emblematic of racism in America. Ergo, white America criticizing West correlates to racism. This is not only wrong, it gives defenders of West an easy way out of a complex issue.
The seeds of West's anger were planted during his interview with BBC Radio 1. As with almost anytime West speaks, he gave equal fuel to the fires of both his fans and his detractors. While West's fans appreciated his candor, his critics latched onto the more absurd parts, like when West compared himself to a character in Disney's Wreck-it Ralph or waxed poetic about his many ideas about "color palettes." Kimmel, whose job it is to make fun of things, took the more humorous segments of the interview and had kids reenact the lines, a similar bit to the time he had Josh Groban sing Kanye's tweets dramatically. It was funny. Only West didn't see it that way.
West's tweets are deleted now. But perhaps the most telling was the first, "JIMMY KIMMEL IS OUT OF LINE TO TRY AND SPOOF IN ANY WAY THE FIRST PIECE OF HONEST MEDIA IN YEARS." This captures West perfectly: He's straddling the line between a normal reaction and hyperbole. He's right that during the BBC interview, he spoke candidly about how the ugly cloud of racism still blots out even the brightest of our culture's stars. But West is wrong for saying Kimmel shouldn't have poked holes in the interview, and that it was the first honest media in years.
West is one of the biggest stars in popular culture. When he says odd things or acts immaturely, he will be called out on it. This is true of all celebrities. And West doesn't get a free pass because he's black. This is the problem with the claim that his white critics are racist. Saying that everything West does is genius, and that his grating ego is a necessary weapon against a society that tries to keep him down, only ignores what's really happening: West is his own worst enemy, and that's frustrating.
See also: Sorry, But Kanye Is the GOAT