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Open Letter to Kanye West: Ferguson Is Happening. Where Are You?

Dear ‘Ye,

You have spent much of your career defying naysayers and the standards people have set for you. You refused to be intimidated by guys on the South Side of Chicago for your creativity. You broke free of being only a producer when you proved Jay Z wrong and became one of the biggest names in rap music. When music executives tried to control the content of your music, you released the now-infamous “Jesus Walks.” When Nike would not give you creative control over Yeezys, you took a deal with Adidas instead.

You are, by definition, defiant. And I love that about you.

Many in our community applauded your gall to stand on national television next to Mike Myers and utter seven words that shook the nation: “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.” We praised your courage in the wake of the United States’ failed response to Hurricane Katrina that ultimately resulted in the loss of many lives. You articulated the pain behind the tears many of us cried.

Despite criticism of your “Kanye rants,” people listen when you speak. Regardless of your delivery, many of us find value in your statements on classism and institutionalized racism. Your voice elicits responses from fans and critics alike.

Having said that, Ferguson is happening. Where are you?

I am deeply troubled by your sudden quietness in the midst of such powerful youth activism against police brutality and state violence. The killing of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, has awakened a movement that even garnered responses from protesters in Palestine and Hong Kong, protesters who are fighting for their own just causes in their homeland but found a connection to the injustices that blacks face in the United States.

 

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