Cappuccino Soul

Cappuccino Soul

Monday, December 04, 2006

Kanye West—Son of a Black Panther?

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I had not heard about the unfortunate comments that Kanye West made about biracial women in the upcoming January issue of Essence magazine. But after a Cappuccino Soul reader, Lakissha Taylor, called my attention to West’s comments, I’ll be looking for this issue in the mail.

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.

10 comments:

John H said...

That Morgan Freeman comment works on several levels. Those people who get high and mighty on the immigration issue easily forget that not too many boatloads ago, their ancestors rolled in and were often reviled by the folks that beat them by a boat or two.

Strong post, Alicia. I asked several people at Starbucks the other day if they were Alicia..sadly, none of them were..

jag said...

You're a much kinder soul than I am.

If I heard anyone calling my biracial godchildren 'mutts', Kanye West included, I'd end up being arrested.

I've never been a fan of Kanye's, but did enjoy some of his music. His pious, racist, and egotistical attitude have now even turned me off of that.

Alicia Benjamin-Samuels said...

John,
Thanks for commenting.
That's right. Lots of folks don't know what's in their family tree.

I didn't make it to the open house, but did stop by Star Bucks the next day to get some Cappuccino! Having that place so near us is dangerous!

Alicia Benjamin-Samuels said...

Jag,
Thanks for commenting.

I feel you on not liking Kanye anymore. I'm anxious to hear what he has to say after so many people have scolded him.

peace,
alicia

Sonia said...

good grief...a mutt? Niiiice. I can't stand Kanye's attitude...but the man can put out some good lyrics.

Alicia Benjamin-Samuels said...

Hi Sonia,
Yeah, he has a fews notable songs. Maybe he'll atone for these comments and write about how God made us all the colors of the world. Wouldn't that be nice?
Peace,
alicia

Diadra said...

I wonder why the response to Kanye's comments on so many sites include people breaking down there racial make-up. I wonder why so many of us african americans still have to say "oh, my grandmother was half indian, or half irish, or half anything. I feel like most people aren't ok with just being BLACK! Often when men approach me they will ask what I am, I'm black...then we'll you've got to be something else...as if something else makes a person more appealing. In fact one man told me you can't be all ni**er with hair like that. How disgusting!
I feel that Kanye's comments reflect how a lot of men and women caught up in the hip hop hype lifestyle think. And as a single woman it's sad, people are so lost and so caught in materials that the signs of success are a fancy car (leased), a cribs house (rented)and "exotic woman", even if you sell your soul to achieve it! And we wonder why folks hop from marriage to marriage and bed to bed...the foundation was material - Eddie Murphy said when he saw Nicole he had to marry her, he didn't know her but had to have her, as if she was the latest car...now five kids later they are divorced and he has moved on to another similiar look (no disrespect to Tracey's talent). But when the foundation of your relationship is based on the physical ideal you will crash and burn. Men need to read what God says about a virtous woman (proverbs 31) and seek those in a relationship regardless. If she's black as oil or white as snow, if her heart is for Christ and she meditates on his word she will be a blessing to your life!
Ok - there's my rant, bless you all
D

Alicia Benjamin-Samuels said...

Diadra,
Thanks for commenting. I'm glad you got a chance to get that all out.
I think it's thrilling when people break down their racial make-up. It shows how much a lot of us have in common.
I'm very proud of my African ancestry. I don't think I'll have enough time in my lifetime to explore it.
I don't think it's a matter of "being OK just with just being black." I can't speak for everyone but I like to be realistic about my ancestors. It's good to know the truth and can be empowering.
Peace sister,
alicia

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Anonymous said...

I know it is very old post, but had to comment. Isn't it ironical in a way, that now Kayne's daughter is "a mutt"?