Kanye West, Donald Glover and the correct way to send a message

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Donald Glover

Kanye West is crazy. Not in a “crazy like a fox” way. No, he’s crazy in a “cut off your nose to spite your face” way. In his Gemini-centered quest to be the deepest mind in the room, Kanye has said and has done things that have created more questions and concerns than answers. Wearing a MAGA hat. Becoming a fanboy for Donald Trump. The Kanye that was once known for pushing the envelope has totally ripped the envelope open, only to reveal that there is nothing inside of it. It’s empty. His latest act of career suicide came in the form of an appearance on TMZ last week in which he said the following: “400 years of slavery? That sounds like a choice.” He didn’t qualify this statement in a way that would give it context. He didn’t explain this statement in a way that would give it depth. No, as he has been doing lately, he simply said it and moved on as if we would understand what he meant. We live in the sound bite era, a place where you can say 99 great things and 1 horrible thing, and that 1 horrible thing will become the sword you lay upon. All that anyone was reporting, trolling or sincerely paying attention to Kanye heard was that he thinks slavery was a choice. And when you wear the trappings of white nationalism, and you are quoted fanning out on this villainous administration, and then you speak of slavery as some option that our ancestors could choose or refrain from without giving any depth to the statement, then you, sir, have proven you’re crazy.

In capitalism, one can always profit on the follies of another. Kanye’s statement broke the Internet. It became all that anyone discussed for the next 48 hours. The all-important think pieces began to flow from blog sites, guerilla journalists looking to pen that one piece that goes viral and gets them the looks they need to finally quit their day job and start a podcast. Every talk show on television now had their lead story. The woke community, Black twitter, they had a field day with him. The #ifslaverywasachoice memes were classic. If you haven’t seen them, stop reading this article right now and go check them out. They are hilarious. Every Black musician or creative with a mic in their face during that 48-hour cycle was asked about Kanye’s statements. The thing about it though is that no one ever really spoke with knowledge of what Kanye meant, because Kanye never elaborated. In truth, one could have such a discussion on an intellectual level. One could point to legends like Harriet Tubman, Toussaint L’ouverture and Nat Turner and say that they chose at some point to not be burdened with the yoke of slavery. They chose freedom. But that discussion won’t be had because Kanye opened an empty envelope.

Donald Glover is crazy. Not in a “cut your nose off to spite your face” way. No, Donald Glover is “crazy like a fox.” The man wears basically every creative hat in entertainment. Musician-Actor-Director-Writer-Comedian. His show, Atlanta, is an amazing ride, unique and fresh even as it presents traditional paradigms. He’s found success in the Hip-Hop realm as Childish Gambino and he’s only at the front end of what promises to be an accomplished career. And that’s what makes the recent video he released for his song, This is America, so interesting. Donald didn’t just push the envelope with this video, he ripped the envelope open and poured out hundreds of other sealed envelopes on the floor for you to sift through. The imagery in this video requires its own article, 750 words isn’t enough to touch on everything.The senseless killings of our own, the dancing and minstrel posturing in the foreground holding our attention while chaos exists in the background; death on a pale horse, the end of religion, this video discusses all of it in a way that yields itself only to more discussion and introspection. The think pieces for this are flowing like the river Thames. Social media has had a meaty week indeed, and one that has presented a beautiful juxtaposition. Social and political issues in interviews or in conversation without qualifying their statements or giving you the context of their thought process, they put themselves in danger of being misunderstood. When artists speak to social and political issues in their art, the art itself contextualizes the message and the conversation is left for you, the consumer, to have. Kanye needs to explain himself, he owes it to his fans and listeners to explain why he feels that slavery was a choice. Donald Glover doesn’t owe anyone an explanation. He’s said enough. I miss the old Kanye.