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The Thing About Kanye

Updated: Nov 20, 2023


Dear reader, I initially wrote this blog about Kanye West (now legally known as "Ye") on November 18, 2019. At that time, he had not made antisemitic statements of hate. I was inspired to write this article because I was dismayed by his ignorance of African American history and his lack of empathy for the challenges faced by African American people. I found his case odd yet redeemable. I sincerely hoped he would take the time to educate himself on our history. I hoped that his devotion to Christ would open his heart to SEE things he did not yet see.

In 2022, after learning that he used his platform to spread bigotry, lies, and hate, I felt deep sadness, anger, and profound disappointment for the pain he caused both the African American and Jewish communities. I contemplated whether or not to remove the blog featured below. And as you can see, I determined not to and instead prayed for the healing and renewing of Ye's mind. As a Christian, I am soberly aware of the unearned gift of grace; on my best day, my righteousness is a filthy rag before His throne. So, while I will always reject hate, division, and fear spread through ignorance. I will remember with hope that our redeemer lives and that He is well able to transform the heart of man, including Mr. West. My hope for Ye is this: may God meet you on the road to Damascus, and may you be forever changed.

My ex-husband was a huge Kanye fan in the late 2000's and early 2010's. He would regale me on road trips with tales of Kanye West's musical genius. His producing skills were the perfect blend of eccentricity, steeped in a historical appreciation of the greatest Black musicians of the 20th century. "Kanye,"…he would tell me, "Could do something with a beat that hip-hop hadn't seen the likes of before". "Kanye," he would say, "Could bridge the old and the new while simultaneously crafting something different and unique." Then his face would grow dim, almost like a kid who found out there really isn't a Santa Claus, and he would describe the following watershed moment like a death. "I don't know what happened; Kanye changed, his music got dark, and his style just fell off…I think it had something to do with his mother's death". I would nod and ask questions, more interested in the psychological journey of an esteemed artist who fell from grace than in the music itself. I like hip-hop, but I'm not what you would call a fan.

As a writer, the journey of pain, discovery, triumph, defeat, and peace has always interested me. So to see this particular artist, a man who had obtusely decided that George W. Bush didn't like black people, only to apologize for that very proclamation years later.

  • A man who had once run on a televised awards stage uninvited to rip an award away from a young girl who he felt was undeserving, only to have the woman he felt was deserving take the young girl's side and apologize profusely.

  • A man who wore his feelings on his sleeve, using his music to detail the heartbreak and disappointment of his relationship with a music mogul he at one time considered to be his brother.

  • A man who embraced a divisive, polarizing, corrupt president as a father and mentor. While simultaneously terrorizing black culture with misnomers about our history on a nationally syndicated gossip show.

And finally, a man who, for months, has held impromptu worship events where he genuinely humbled himself and honored God, admitting his transgressions and earnestly asked folks to do the same, compelled me.

If I knew nothing about his music, I was undoubtedly beginning to understand something about the man based on his public antics over the past few years. I knew he was clumsy and almost childlike, with a reckless abandon led entirely by emotion, void of forethought or investigation. And I knew that despite all of that, or maybe because of it, this man was being used by God.

Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.

-1 Corinthians 1:27-29

Politics aside, and believe me, it's coming, but first this.

The religious landscape of America is changing. Or, more aptly put, it has changed.

Those who identify as Christians are declining at a rapid rate. Statistics show that the demographic experiencing exponential growth are those who identify as either spiritual or have no religious affiliation. There is a growing palpable disdain for organized religion and the hypocrisy that often accompanies it.

Don't get me wrong; there IS a need for the love, redemption, and tenderness of Christ. There IS a need for the healing, grace, and faith found only in the spirit of God. But the church is failing to meet that need. The legacy of Christianity in America is tattered and torn, littered with far-right bigotry, pastors for profit, and tribal judgment. In the face of this, is there any wonder that folks have turned away?

For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?

I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.

-Isaiah 43:19

I have a saying: Recognize when God is in the room. Simply put, discern when the spirit of God is at work to heal, to love, to restore and to renew. There are people attending Kanye's Sunday Service who would have never stepped foot in a church. There are people attending Kanye's Sunday Service who need a message in the wild. A word in the wilderness. It's time out for church as usual. This generation requires a radical move of God. They long for His presence without the pomp and circumstance of religion.

But the time is coming—indeed it's here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way.

-John 4:23-24

So I'm not surprised that God would use the clumsy, almost childlike heart of a man surrendered to Him in reckless abandon to gather His people in an uncommon way, with an uncommon worship to manifest a movement.

Kanye West, for all his faults and foolhardy politics, is that dude.

I wouldn't have picked him in a million years, but I'm not God.

And like I said, I recognize when God is using someone despite themselves to gather his people and glorify his name in worship.

As I celebrate what God is doing through Kanye's Sunday Service, I will likewise, with the same passion, speak against that which is NOT founded in truth.

I told you it was coming. It's here now.

I'm not talking about political bias or conservative vs liberal policy. I am a Democrat, and although I can't entirely agree with Kanye's support of the Republican party, I know enough history to understand that neither party has a foothold in righteousness.

What I do find fault with, however, is ignorance and misinformation. While Kanye's transparency is useful in a heart surrendered to share the love of Christ. The word of God also admonishes us to "study to show ourselves approved." In other words, be diligent in learning the truth so that you will know what you are talking about.

Kanye's statements about the black experience in America can only be described as the unfortunate ramblings of a man uneducated in American history and, more specifically, Black American history. Kanye's recent assertions that poverty in the African American community can be laid at the feet of a desire for cars and shoes over land is not only erroneous; it is irresponsible. His claim that we would rather watch a game of basketball instead of fight for the rights of ourselves and our brethren is not only fiction but also a gross insult to the historical evidence that stands to rebuke it. It's as if he determined that the blaxploitation movies from the 70s were an accurate depiction of African American values, which is equivalent to believing that the movie Pretty Woman is a factual representation of life as a prostitute.

But my bigger issue is that the truth about these matters is not hidden in some secret vault placed high on an unreachable hill surrounded by a mote flanked with armed guards and lions.


This is the information age, for goodness sake! IT AIN'T HARD.

But since I started this, let me help.

Black folks are the forbears of the greatest fight for equal rights this country has EVER witnessed. Many marginalized groups reap the benefit of what our people have protested, marched, fought, and died for. We have laid down our lives for the freedom of ourselves and others. To say anything less is a ridiculous notion that history itself rejects.

Regarding the pursuit of land ownership in the African American community, the story is neither simple nor pretty. It involves the history of diabolical systems and practices the government used to rob African Americans of their land as well as prevent African American families from owning new land. Redlining was used to obliterate hope and wealth-building in our communities. Yet, as a people, we fought against and stood with others to expose and dismantle it. The history is too vast and layered to aptly address in one blog, but it certainly can not be swept up in the racially insensitive stereotype that black folks would rather floss than own land. That is simply not true.

Yes, in every race, creed and culture you will find those without vision and gumption to progress. But in every race, creed and culture you will not also find a transatlantic slave trade or the forced free labor of a people who built wealth for an entire race, government and country, yet received NOTHING in return to build their own. The case of the disparity of African American homeownership is particular, and it includes:

The same thing and more was done to black farmers, making it not only extremely difficult to own land but also to work the land.

The difference between the two political parties is that the Democratic party admits wrongdoing and attempts to make amends in some small ways. In contrast, the Republican party upholds an untenable fragility that wants to ignore the past and champion false equity.

Unfortunately, neither party has fully addressed the systemic and institutionalized racism that perpetuates our current dilemma. This makes Kanye's statement that African-American poverty is all about a desire for cars and shoes all the more troubling. Look deeper.

Kanye's statement that if Black people wanted land instead of a pair of Jordans, we'd solve all equality issues is amazingly naive. There are African Americans with degrees and without degrees who have worked every day of their adult lives, have never owned a pair of Jordans-don't want to, who would love to own land, and yet do not. How does he explain them? How does he explain the black farmer who has worked the land all of his life and been denied subsidies and loans white farmers receive ad nauseam? How does he explain the Central Park Five? Where was their love of stuff over land?

His broad sweep generalization is the evidence of his miseducation. A miseducation on things that, again, can be EASILY Googled.

My hope for Kanye is that as his faith in God grows, so will his desire to educate himself on our shared humanity. Loving God's people comes with a responsibility to the truth. Learning the truth of our history, the truth of our challenges, and the truth of God's love to redeem any situation or circumstance. But it all begins with truth.

Educate yourself, my brother, so that you can be used after the worship service is over. Educate yourself so that you can participate in the edification and building of a people with a history of overcoming and advancing by God's eminent grace. SEE us clearly; we are FAR MORE than you've been told.

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