College Dropout

Dear Kanye West,

It's true, I am out of the musical loop, and have therefore just heard your new song "Goldigger" this weekend for the first time. I...I'd really appreciate if you would explain just one, small thing to me.

You were very outspoken and boisterous about your feelings surrounding Gee Dub's treatment of hurricane victims in New Orleans, saying, "George Bush doesn't like black people." I think you are wrong - George Bush doesn't like POOR people. However, how exactly does rapping these lyrics:

I'm not sayin' she's a goldigger
But she ain't messin' with a broke nigger

How, EXACTLY HOW, does that further the cause in support of breaking racial divides or, you know, NOT perpetuating sterotypes?

I know that it's more likely for rap music to be fun and danceable rather than have a political message - lord knows I like to take my kitchen clock off the wall, hang it around my neck, and dance around to "911 is a Joke" as much as the next guy. But if you're going to make such blatant, wide-swinging statements such as yours, shouldn't you, oh I don't know, walk it like you talk it? Because really, the way you bandy about the "n" word while simultaneously stereotyping and degrading women....kind of makes me not care about you.

* * * * *

After posting this in my personal blog, I received a comment from a reader in which she stated nothing about the song points to Mr. West saying he doesn't like white people, and in that way he was not the same as George Bush. She also pointed out that there is a familiarity among black people that allows "the N word" to be accepted and a part of the everyday lexicon. The use of the word "familiarity", and the fact that I am a black woman who happens to disagree with her statement, prompted the following response.

* * * * *

I'm not comparing Kanye West to GeeDub. I'm saying that Kanye West, through his lyrics, attitude, and public statements, proves to be just as ignorant as our president.

You say: "And let's be realistic there are goldiggers, both male and female so, solely in that context I'm not sure how that's degrading to women."

I agree. However, in this song, he specifically references women, therefore it is degrading TO WOMEN. I personally believe that men frequently dismiss and degrade women as a means of proving their power and demand for respect. This is rampant in rap music - not ONLY rap, but specifically. I can easily name 55 songs where a woman is referred to as a "bitch", "slut", "ho", or, in this case, "golddigger". Does this not seem like a problem, especially since rap speaks directly to such a specific portion of society (i.e. young black men)?

I was raised by people that suffered the civil rights movement. The use of the term "n*****" will NEVER, EVER be socially acceptable to me. I have trouble typing the word. I'm sure volumes have been written about the subject, but at this point I just wish to point out that no matter how widely regarded it is as being "accepted and allowed among black people", I, a black person, find it deplorable. It sets us back as LEAST 50 years in the civil rights movement, and, at the very least, makes people sound ignorant and disrespectful. I EXPECT MORE FROM MY PEOPLE, plain and simple. Black people that frequently use the "n" word, in my eyes, have completely forgotten that as few as 40 years ago a black person couldn't get a job because of the color of their skin. Had to drink from a different fountain if they were thirsty. In some areas, couldn't attend public schools.

And in all of these cases, were regularly called NIGGER.

I don't have to live through these atrocities in order to have compassion for the people that did, the people that DIED for me to be able to go to any college I want, have the chance to educate myself in any manner I choose, and travel freely without repurcussion in the country in which I was born.

As someone whose full-time job involves diversity, affirmative action, and protected class status, I can tell you that basic civil rights are continually violated on a regular basis. The struggle is far from over. On the contrary - now we're seeing more cases of people being discriminated against not only because of the color of their skin, but sexuality, national origin, and gender bias as well. You can see how I have little tolerance for even ONE song promoting this behavior. Because if that one song reaches a child whom, to that day had never thought of a woman as inferior, and now refers to girls as 'golddiggers', we're setting a dangerous precedence for our future.

I'm also not entirely humorless, and use the word "negro" a lot. Not to justify it, but "negro" doesn't have the same social implications that the other 'n' word does, being a Latin-based word and literal meaning for the color black.

But I do think Kanye West should walk it like he talks it. Calling someone else ignorant and then IGNORANTLY portraying women in such a negative manner isn't far enough apart for me to compartmentalize as "totally different".

While I agree that there is always a lexicon that bonds people of certain age, racial, and social structures, it pains me that my people chose to revamp such a hurtful word as their unifier.

People that unobjectively use the word NIGGER do not have compassion for those that came before us, plain and simple.

That includes Mr. Kanye West.

So I bring it to you, bloghers:
Do you think there exists a cultural familiarity that begs acceptance of degradation or disrespect?


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