The hullabaloo about Kanye West’s nonsensical rants, the Bill Cosby conviction and the movement to mute R. Kelly has exposed a clear line of demarcation with two opposing sides.
The first side needs no introduction. Anyone reading this has probably seen at least a few of the extensive catalog of think pieces about why Kanye was wrong, why Bill Cosby needs to go to jail and why people should no longer listen to the remix of “Ignition.”
But there is another side.
The mainstream media rarely shows the other side, mostly because “mainstream media” usually refers to “things white people read.” But there is a huge contingent of black people who believe that Cosby is the latest example of a black man whose legacy is being destroyed by an insidious white cabal.
These people would also have you believe that this same unseen nefarious Caucasian force is out to “publicly lynch” R. Kelly, Russell Simmons and Kanye West by turning public sentiment against these men. According to the fauxtep-adjacent theories, white people are out to destroy semifamous black men so that they can ... umm ... the end result is never truly explained, but trust me, they’re doing it.
People who suffer from mental illness say that we need to understand what Kanye is going through. They say they can see the imbalance in his eyes, and our condemnation does not help. I definitely understand some of it. When Camille Cosby called the verdict against Pill Cosby “mob justice,” I empathized with her. After all, that’s her husband.
I’ve had extensive conversations with people who are so invested in Kanye’s music that they find it difficult to reconcile “MAGA” Ye with the guy who gave us “Graduation.” As a poet, a lover of black comedy and a hip-hop head, I have many friends who have careers because Simmons’ Def Jam gave these art forms an international platform.
But ain’t nobody trying to lynch these Negroes.
Look, I am the last one who will argue with the notion of the Machiavellian nature of wypipo. But the memes comparing Cosby’s conviction to Emmett Till’s murder is one of the most idiotic things I’ve ever seen (and I watched white women vote for Donald Trump).
Far be it from me to discount the evilness of Darth Beckys, but Cosby admitted he did that shit, and some of us still believe this has something to do with him buying NBC.
Apparently, white people teamed up with black feminists, built a time machine, went back to the 1960s and told Cosby: “You know what? I think you should start raping more.”
Then they pooled their money together and paid the special effects division at Industrial Light and Magic to produce a grainy VHS tape of R. Kelly urinating on a teenager. This is before they injected Simmons with a serum that made him like young white girls. All of this happened years before they kidnapped the old Kanye and replaced him with an “alt-right” Yeezy Kardashian clone.
All of these bullshit hypotheses negate one inescapable fact:
There are some people who ain’t shit. Just because someone can compose great music or create hilarious punch lines doesn’t mean they are immune from ain’t-shitness.
The undeniable gap in these conspiracy theories is that they undervalue the worth of blackness by insinuating that we can be neutralized by undercutting a few black semisuperstars. Kanye’s success or lack thereof has never been, nor will it ever be, a rung on the ladder to our freedom. Cosby has done a lot of great things for black people. He’s also done some fucked-up things to black women. I grew up in an era where The Cosby Show was one of the few positive portrayals of black people on television. But had there been no Theo Huxtable, I wouldn’t have self-destructed.
If Cosby goes to jail for the rest of his life, it won’t affect my life in any measurable way. No one is “destroying” Kanye by refuting his illogic. The absolute worst thing I’ve heard anyone say they are willing to do to Kanye is, “I can’t fuck with him no more.”
I can’t help thinking this is because these previously mentioned celebrities are men. No one has said that Mo’Nique was being publicly lynched when half of black America doubled over in laughter when she asked us to boycott Netflix. When Omarosa Manigault Newman embraced Trump and we rescinded her cookout invitation, I don’t quite remember anyone invoking the name of Emmett Till.
White supremacy is real. I truly believe that the power structure in America controls the narrative that shapes this country’s perception of black media. But they don’t need Kanye to do it when they control every aspect of the financial, political, social and academic structures of this country.
There are actual lynchings happening in 2018. Police still haven’t arrested anyone for the murder of DJ Broadus. David Josiah Lawson still hasn’t received justice. Same with Stephon Clark. And Alton Sterling. And Philando Castile. There are names being added to the list of modern-day lynchings every day.
But refuting Kanye’s alternative facts isn’t the same as tying a fan to the neck of Emmett Till with barbed wire and throwing him off a bridge. R. Kelly being excommunicated for his repeated sexual misconduct doesn’t quite rise to the level of the slaughter that occurred in Black Wall Street.
It is up to you to determine how you feel about these men. I won’t even deny that the “mainstream media” gins up the public outrage because these men are famous and black.
But they aren’t being lynched.
Stop saying that shit.