In a hard-hitting Atlantic essay, called I’m Not Black, I’m Kanye, Ta-Nehisi Coates slammed West saying that he has become a voice for “white freedom” and likened him to Michael Jackson whose skin physically changed from black to white.
The title is also a throwback to the words spoken by OJ Simpson, who disassociated himself with the black community saying, I’m Not Black, I’m OJ.
Coates made a point to draw the comparison after West went on a twitter tirade about free thought last week and anchored his support behind President Donald Trump. Coates said West fed into propaganda and his thoughts were more reckless than free.
“West’s thoughts are not original—the apocryphal Harriet Tubman quote and the notion that slavery was a “choice” echoes the ancient trope that slavery wasn’t that bad; the myth that blacks do not protest crime in their community is pure Giulianism; and West’s desire to “go to Charlottesville and talk to people on both sides” is an extension of Trump’s response to the catastrophe,” Coates writes.
“These are not stray thoughts. They are the propaganda that justifies voter suppression, and feeds police brutality, and minimizes the murder of Heather Heyer. And Kanye West is now a mouthpiece for it.”
West has dangerously disassociated himself from his blackness, Coates argues:
“Kanye West, a god in this time, awakened, recently, from a long public slumber to embrace Donald Trump. He hailed Trump, as a “brother,” a fellow bearer of “dragon energy,” and impugned those who objected as suppressors of “unpopular questions,” “thought police” whose tactics were “based on fear.”
“It was Trump, West argued, not Obama, who gave him hope that a black boy from the South Side of Chicago could be president. “Remember like when I said I was gonna run for president?,” said Kanye in interview with the radio host Charlamagne Tha God. “I had people close to me, friends of mine, making jokes, making memes, talking shit, now it’s like oh, that was proven that that could have happened.”
Coates had time, writing 5,000 words taking West to task. He even outlined a comparison between West and superstar Michael Jackson and his God-like stature in the black community. He discussed Jackson’s physical deterioration and made comparison to prove how much West has disengaged from himself and the black community.
“It is often easier to choose the path of self-destruction when you don’t consider who you are taking along for the ride,” Coates writes.
“And maybe this, too, is naïve, but I wonder how different his life might have been if Michael Jackson knew how much his truly black face was tied to all of our black faces, if he knew that when he destroyed himself, he was destroying part of us, too…And so for Kanye West, I wonder what he might be, if he could find himself back into connection, back to that place where he sought not a disconnected freedom of ‘I,’ but a black freedom that called him back — back to the bone and drum, back to Chicago, back to Home.”