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Guest Commentary: Kanye, Herschel, and Blaxploitation

A longtime political observer on the hypocrisy and damage of the infamous Black celebs

Guest Commentary: Kanye, Herschel, and Blaxploitation

A longtime political observer on the hypocrisy and damage of the infamous Black celebs

I start with a statement of indisputable facts: Kanye West is mentally unstable, and Herschel Walker is an idiot and a buffoon. What do these two men have in common other than they are Black? As a Black man myself, I can’t stand to look at their faces or hear their voices. They are poster boys for corporate greed and religious hypocrisy, and that principles, decency, and integrity will be readily sacrificed at the altar of money and political power.

In the 70s we called it “blaxploitation.” More importantly for Black people, the elevation and prominence of these men undermines our years of striving to promote and celebrate Black excellence, especially in music and in politics.

As to West (and I refuse to call him “Ye” or a “genius”), Adidas claims to be agonizing over what to do about his racist, antisemitic rants and antics over the last several days. This behavior is not new. West admitted publicly that he was mentally ill years ago. To paraphrase Maya Angelou, when somebody tells you they are crazy, believe them.

The problem is that he has made the German-based sneaker maker and himself billions of dollars. Incredibly, it is one of the most lucrative sneaker endorsements in history. I must admit that I don’t have a clue as to why that is the case, but I also hate his music and I don’t know why anyone would emulate his fashion sense. Must be a generational thing. My guess is that after all of the public hand-wringing and statements of condemnation, Adidas will stick with him until he is institutionalized or worse. He will at least have achieved for himself and his family one of the most important goals of the civil rights movement: wealth attainment.

Walker’s elevation in politics is a much more pernicious and cynical development than Kanye making money and claiming to speak for Black people. West may not be a genius, but he is brilliant. The same cannot be said of Walker who is clueless as to how stupid he is.

Apart from the rank hypocrisy of Republicans and White so-called Christians embracing him as their standard bearer in the Georgia Senate race, it is also a resurrection (pun intended) of the worst, racist stereotypes of Black men as dumb, hypersexual, irresponsible, immoral brutes.

Such images were used to justify slavery and resulted in the beating, castration and lynching of untold numbers of Black men. Walker’s White supporters also see his success as a way to put an “uppity” Black man in his place. Only in this current racialized, polarized, and volatile political climate could the highly qualified Reverend Ralph Warnock be tied with Walker in the senate race.

I think Walker will lose, but the stain of his cynical campaign will endure. And he could actually learn something from Kanye about being a father and taking care of his children … if he can locate them.

Carl E. Singley is the former dean of Temple University Law School and a counsel to Tucker Law Group.


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