For those of you who have not heard, Kanye West makes some off-color comments about biracial women in the upcoming issue of Essence. “If it wasn’t for race mixing there’d be no video girls,” West is quoted as saying in the January issue of Essence magazine. “Me and most of our friends like mutts a lot. Yeah, in the hood they call ’em mutts.”
How could West think that referring to women as “mutts” would fly? And as the son of a former Black Panther/College Professor, shouldn’t he know better?
My full response to West’s comments could potentially serve as a term paper for an anthropology or African-American history class, so I won’t respond fully. But I will say this. Somewhere in West’s consciousness, he has to know that most African-Americans who live in the United States have some sort of mixed racial ancestry—including people in his own family. This is a fact that doesn’t even require much research, all you have to do is look at the range of colors and facial features of “black” people in this country and this is obvious. Both my mom and dad’s family trees have African, Native American, and Caucasian elements—this is the truth for MANY of us in America.
This whole discussion made me think about an e-mail I received from a reader of this blog about two weeks ago. The reader wanted to know if I was biracial. I had to pause because I wondered why she had asked. Had she seen me around town or a picture of me somewhere? To my knowledge, we’ve never met.
I guess I could I match the image of lots of “biracial” folks. When I lived in New York, Spanish-speaking people would frequently speak to me in Spanish, assuming that I was a “Boricua” or hailed from some other Latino land. (Boricua is a word sometimes used to denote a Puerto Rican or a person of Puerto Rican descent. It is derived from the Taino name for the island of Puerto Rico, Boriquén.)
The reader said she asked because of the “Nuyorican Poets Café” link that’s included in my “Favorite Sites” to the right. I guess she thought that my interest in the café came from some connection to the “Nuyoricans.” (Nuyorican is a blending of the phases “New York” and “Puerto Rican.”)
Well, yes. I’m connected to the Nuyoricans, as are many black people in New York and many places on the East Coast. As a matter of fact, people from all over the world have either performed there or been an audience member at the Nuyorican Poets Café. It’s a premiere vehicle for poets, musicians and thespians.
Puerto Ricans and Latinos from other places have been a part of my life since childhood. My neighborhood friend David Cruz had a crush on me and I had a mad crush on his cousin Jose, who also lived in the neighborhood.
But my experience can’t be that much different from Kanye’s. I’m sure he’s had biracial friends and people from other cultures in his life. I can’t imagine why he would make such an ugly reference to mixed race women. As Morgan Freeman said recently on the Charlie Rose show, "We as Americans don't really know who we are."
Here’s what Lakissha Taylor has to say about the mess:
Kanye has forgotten our history; historically we were all considered black and had to use the colored only facilities. For Kanye to make such a derogatory statement towards biracial women (society considers us Black women) is indicative of the misogynistic culture we have created and condoned in the world of hip-hop. While not all Bruth'as in hip-hop would put women on par with a mix-breed dog, for Kanye to use his influence and power in such a derogatory way is a HUGE statement for all young people who love his music. He is only participating in the JIM CROW legacy of slavery. I wonder would Kanye call the following a mutt to their face? Sean Paul, Barack Obama, Alicia Keyes, Maria Carey, Faith Evans. I am sure he has produced beats for many of these artists too.
Be blessed, don't fall into the trap, and don't believe the hype!
I’m with Lakissha. Family, let’s pray for Kanye.