Anyone who knows me knows that as a fellow Chicagoan, I’m a big fan of Kanye West. Been a fan since the early production days, still a fan…of his his music and creative capabilities that is. However, even the most down fan has to give a side-eye to Mr. West’s current appreciation of Confederate flags and the fact that he’s putting them on shirts and selling them as part of his tour merchandise for fans. And you know it’s a real problem when Reverend Al Sharpton is ready to boycott you.
Kanye uses the historically racist symbol to adorn his concert merchandise. One of the tees, for example, shows a confederate flag with a skull and reads “I Ain’t Comin’ Down.” Another one has a skeleton figure draped in a confederate flag holding a scythe. Still others depict skeletons wearing Indian headdresses with the caption “God Wants You.” There are also tote bags with just the confederate flag by itself.
He’s even been seen out in a jacket with the flag embossed on the arm (see above). West tried to explain the use of the flag, claiming he was re-appropriating it from being a symbol of slavery and racism.
“React how you want. Any energy you got is good energy. You know the confederate flag represented slavery in a way — that’s my abstract take on what I know about it. So I made the song ‘New Slaves.’ So I took the Confederate flag and made it my flag. It’s my flag now. Now what are you going to do?”
But Rev. Sharpton and his NAN representatives say it’s more a disgrace than anything else. Political Directer of the Los Angeles National Action Network, Najee Ali, who talked with Sharpton and other reps during a press conference yesterday, says he’s embracing ignorance.
“Kanye West already has several pieces of merchandise from his Yeezus tour that are emblazoned with the controversial Southern Cross at his tour store in Los Angeles. Our organization is determined to shut down that and any other store that decides to sell this merchandise. For African-Americans the confederate flag is symbolic of the hurt and pain of slavery in the South and the legacy it has left for those still living under those ideologies. When Kanye embraces and adorns this confederate flag, He also embraces the ignorance and racism that goes along with it. I challenge Kanye West to create a clothing line of merchandise featuring swastikas if he’s sincere about his beliefs . But we all know Kanye doesn’t have the courage to do that. The Jewish community would run him out of town if he did and so should the African American community.”
Rev. Al Sharpton chimed in to say the following:
“The Confederate flag symbolizes dehumanization, injustice and pain. It is a stark reminder of an era in our history that was defined by the abhorrent practice of slavery. And it is representative of a mentality that looked upon blacks as inferiors who needed to remain in the shackles of subservience.”
What do you think? West definitely shouldn’t be encouraging fans to buy into the idea of purchasing merchandise with the Confederate flag on it just because it says “Yeezus” on the back; especially if they don’t understand all that said flag represents. But then again, West has been out here crying for help for years by being defiant, so is any of this really shocking to you?