Musician Kanye West’s name was trending on Twitter yet again Monday over the accusation by author Ta-Nehisi Coates that he is a “black god” who is “dying to be white.”
The man who once wrote “The Case for Reparations” for The Atlantic in 2014 made a de facto case against Mr. West this week. Ongoing furor in entertainment and political circles prompted Mr. Coates to write an op-ed titled, “I’m Not Black, I’m Kanye. Kanye West wants freedom — white freedom,” which accused the singer of being a “mouthpiece” for “the racist rhetoric of the conservative movement.”
Mr. Coates segued into an attack on the Yeezy shoe brand entrepreneur by likening the experience to singer Michael Jackson’s changing physical appearance over the course of decades.
“We knew that we were tied to [Michael Jackson], that his physical destruction was our physical destruction, because if the black God, who made the zombies dance, who brokered great wars, who transformed stone to light, if he could not be beautiful in his own eyes, then what hope did we have — mortals, children — of ever escaping what they had taught us, of ever escaping what they said about our mouths, about our hair and our skin, what hope did we ever have of escaping the muck? And he was destroyed,” Mr. Coates wrote. “It happened right before us. God was destroyed, and we could not stop him, though we did love him, we could not stop him, because who can really stop a black god dying to be white?”
An autopsy conducted after Mr. Jackson’s death in 2009 confirmed that he suffered from a skin pigmentation disease known as vitiligo.
“Kanye West, a god in this time, awakened, recently, from a long public slumber to embrace Donald Trump,” Mr. Coates wrote. “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.’ … When West raps, ‘And I basically know now, we get racially profiled / Cuffed up and hosed down, pimped up and ho’d down,’ the we is instructive. What Kanye West seeks is what Michael Jackson sought — liberation from the dictates of that we.
“If his upcoming album is great, the dalliance with Trump will be prologue. If it’s bad, then it will be foreshadowing,” he continued. “In any case what will remain is this — West lending his imprimatur, as well as his Twitter platform of some 28 million people, to the racist rhetoric of the conservative movement. … West’s desire to ‘go to Charlottesville and talk to people on both sides’ is an extension of Trump’s response to the catastrophe. 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.”
Mr. Coates concluded his piece by claiming the singer’s rhetoric will enact a “price” on “the children parted from their parents at the border” and “the transgender soldier fighting for his job,” among others.
“As 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,” he wrote.
Mr. West’s apparent reaction to the latest social media buzz was to tweet, “I’m hyper-focused on the now.”
I’m hyper focused on the now
— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) May 7, 2018
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