Media folk consistently miss the point these days. The blogosphere blew up when news hit the net that some of Kanye’s merch from his Yeezus tour featured the controversial, historically racist Confederate Flag. While they’re right to cover this as news, it sure feels like most of these “news” outlets are in such a rush to be the first to talk about something that they don’t take the time to even superficially think about it. First and foremost, Kanye’s role in the current cultural milieu is that of one that starts conversations. Intentional or not, it’s no accident that he’s on the minds of 75% of the country every few weeks.
The t-shirts he’s selling are interesting, if not DOPE, for a few reasons. A skull in front of the flag with the text “I Ain’t Comin’ Down” seems like an obvious and apt statement on the antiquated, racist establishment that still runs this country, when you look at it in the context of Kanye’s recent comments about that very subject in his BBC Radio 1 interview. Same goes for the skull armed with a scythe in a confederate robe. It doesn’t take much imagination to see the symbolism there. It wouldn’t take much creativity to pontificate on what it could mean (as opposed to brushing it aside with a few thoughtless words).
And yes, chances are, there will be a lot of white kids who miss the irony and proudly rock this shirt. But so what? The white elite has a well-documented history of appropriating and profiting from black imagery and culture–so what if Ye flipped it on them? We’re not saying that this is the dopest shirt ever made. Nor the raciest. We’re saying that as an artist who by his very nature provokes the masses, pokes the fire, ruffles the feathers, Kanye is completely in the right. And we’re saying that the media’s knee jerk reactions betray their laziness.
Wouldn’t it be a better world–a better internet–if instead of deciding our opinions and posting on our personal soapboxes within minutes of something new happening we put some effort into crafting an informed view point? Instead of championing the repost culture we’re currently inundated with, let’s try and contribute to this shit, folks.