If you were ever a fan of Kanye West as an artist, you may find yourself scratching your head trying to understand where he’s coming from these days. His public statements have divided audiences into a mixture of those who claim to see his spiritual growth and evolution to others who feel he should be cancelled from Black culture. A culture that according to West, doesn’t even exist. In a recent interview with Big Boy, West proclaims, “We are culture-less. We don’t have our own culture. We signed to culture vultures. We sign our life away, our contracts are culture vultures.” He continues, “Think about everything that’s cultural. Taking the knee is cultural; being on social media is cultural; wearing high-fashion is cultural; pushing a foreign is cultural; all these things are not owned by our culture. So who designed the culture? What does it mean to do it for the culture? That’s why I do it for Christ.”
Whether you agree with Kanye or not, this type of rhetoric has always divided the black community. It highlights one of our most beloved yet problematic ideologies and amplifies the complicated history between blacks and what some believe to be the “white man’s Christianity”. To say that Black people are “culture-less” while promoting a newfound sense of spirituality is truly a conundrum considering, the practice of Christianity was imposed on enslaved peoples by their rapists, murderous, kidnapping, bodies-for-profit slave masters. The fundamental beliefs and practices native to the enslaved were outlawed and deemed abhorrent in this new land. Acclimating to the new laws and religious practices was a mere survival tactic, not “freedom” as West alludes by his statement.
The journey of black people born in America is one of the creative survival. The ancestors found ways to hide pieces and traces of what could be remembered from their native homelands and incorporated it into their daily lives. The culture has not been lost or imagined, it lives. It’s thriving right here in plain sight and continues to be reimagined with each new generation. The culture is in our blood, in our tears, in our art, in our DNA which is why the “vultures” are so intent on profiting from it, from us. Mimicking our walk, talk, style, trying to repurpose the ravished communities they wanted us to die in and try to make it their own by way of gentrification. They can’t copy resilience, they can’t fathom the God-given sustainability that allows a group of people to continue to thrive in spite of having everything stripped from them. Black culture absolutely exists, it always has and will continue to influence the world. Unfortunately, West’s statements reflect and support the success of what has been the agenda all along, to make Black people forget who they really are so that we only have evidence of what “they’ve” done.