By now, you know about it, have heard about it, have seen it or were watching it: Kanye West, upset again about a Grammy he felt should have gone to Beyonce, made his way on stage as if recreating that magical moment he once shared with Taylor Swift. Taking the award, and then taking to the mic with the now infamous “I’mma let you finish” rant. And while Kanye didn’t intercept the award this time, (Beck is the artist who received it; a footnote in his own Grammy moment. Nice.) he got close enough to, yet again, make the moment about himself and then afterwards, left no doubt as to how serious he was. ~ “Beck needs to respect the integrity of real artists. He need to give that award to Beyonce”.
No sooner had I heard that hilarious claim, tinged with enough racially-coded sentiment to make even Rush Limbaugh blush, than I thought of my step-sister, and a particular memory from my childhood. I was meeting her, along with my other step-sister, at the hair salon. As a kid I liked going there because the women were usually making jokes about one thing or another, and even though I was quiet and nerdy, they were always kind to me. On this day, there was a pretty vocal conversation about one of the hairdresser’s boyfriend. Apparently, he had just moved in, stopped working, and was now demanding to use her car while telling her she could “take the bus.” There was the typical “Oh hell no,” and “Girl, you can do better,” and “Kick that man to the curb” – it was the late 90s. But then, like that ThunderCats famous battlecry, I heard a phrase I would never forget. The woman doing my sister’s hair exclaimed across the salon, “I wish a motherfucker WOULD try to tell me what to do with MY car!” I think I peed and cried with laughter all at the same time.
She was saying everything. Without a disparaging word about the man in question she was saying, “That would NEVER happen over here. And if someone thinks they can run all over me like that, I wish to God they’d try. Because it ain’t gonna go how they think it’s gonna go!”
Which brings me back to Kanye.
If Beyonce won every award each time a new album of hers came out, that’d be fine with me. Similarly, I don’t consider myself a big fan of Beck. He’s been doing some pretty creative stuff for 20 plus years. But this isn’t about their respective music. Everyone has their personal preferences. Just like some people might be okay with their boyfriend/girlfriend moving in, not working and demanding to use a car that’s not even theirs. That’s between them. Judging it is pointless. But for most of us, those actions, that disrespect, you playing like you’re gonna take this award out of my hands, etc. – we ain’t having it.
I closed my eyes and pretended to be Beck in that moment. “I’m not Taylor, man. But if you think you’re built for it, by all means, make a move.” That might have shut the internet down. Or at least tested the available bandwidth of the western hemisphere. I digress.
Kanye is not only arrogant, he’s a bully. And unless one of the Olsen sisters releases an album full of hits, he’s run out of tiny white people to come for.
I giggled watching internet revolutionaries champion his antics as “fighting against white supremacy”. Nah. As a society, we have to be able to recognize and root out the insidious and all too real nature of structural racism. We also need to fight against the casual manipulating of those realities to fit an agenda. Kanye’s agenda is Kanye. As well as pretending like he’s down to really run up on someone. One of these days he’s gonna pick the wrong one. Until then, some of us will be saying, “I wish a motherfucker would.” Amen.