If there’s ever been a filmmaker whose entire body of work speaks on the brilliance, legacy, and pain of Black people in America, it’s without a doubt Spike Lee.
If he’s calling out Kanye West, well, in the words of Whoopi Goldberg in Sister Act 2, “you better wake up and pay attention.”
Kanye’s “free thinking” tour culminated yesterday on TMZ, when his statements hit a boiling point and Van Lathan put the entire culture on his back to read Yeezy the riot act. His eloquent, passionate, and thoughtful rebuttal seemed to knock the wind out of the 808s & Heartbreak rapper – stopping him dead in his tracks and forcing him to walk off. We’ve all been part of ‘Ye’s version of The Truman Show for weeks now, so apparently it’s finally hit a fever pitch that even Spike couldn’t ignore.
“SLAVERY…A CHOICE”❓❓❓My Brother,OUR Ancestors Did Not Choose To Be Stolen From Mother Africa. OUR Ancestors Did Not Choose To Be Ripped Of Our Religion,Language,Culture. OUR Ancestors Did Not Choose To Be Murdered, Lynched,Castrated,Raped,Burnt At The Stake,Families Sold Apart. OUR Ancestors Built This Country (On Land Stolen From The Native Americans)From The Ground Up Under The Institution Of SLAVERY. Where Is This Brother In The Picture Next To Me❓❓❓I Would Not Be Surprised If OUR Ancestors Are Not Pleased With Your Uneducated Comments. P.S. Your Retraction Does Not Undue The Harm You Cause To Our Beloved ANCESTORS. WAKE UP.????????????????????
Kanye’s now-retracted statement of slavery being a choice rubbed a lot of people wrong, especially for Lee and Lathan, who felt Kanye’s quest for freedom is ignoring the core facts of Black Diaspora, The Transatlantic Slave Trade, and Slavery in the Americas. Lathan spoke on how Kanye is enjoying the life of luxury (moreover safety and comfort) that his genius has afforded him, while the rest of us live the very real consequences of doing anything in America while Black.
We are at a point in history where Blacks can’t wear hoodies without being a target, hold objects while being Black, sit in Starbucks while being Black, sit in the Waffle House while being Black, be treated fairly by police while being Black, enjoy the freedoms of the U.S. Constitution while being Black — you get the point?
To piggyback on that, Lee spoke on the violence that was a daily fact of life for our ancestors. The murders, lynchings, castrations, rapes, and being burnt at the stake while being Black. The point that our favorite “Crooklyn” director wanted to drive home is that ancestors of the Black experience would be ashamed of hKanye’s statements, and it ignores the struggles that they underwent to get us here.
The Shade Room, infamous for comment-creeping, pulled out Kanye’s retraction from Twitter. However, for some — celebs and regular folk alike — there’s so much built-up steam that make ‘Ye’s statements especially dangerous. Too many have died for the freedom of expression that he throws around casually in the pursuit of artistic freedom and, once again “free thought.” This all comes from the man who once stood stone-faced and passionately said this classic quote on NBC all those years ago:
“George Bush doesn’t care about black people!”
Where is this Kanye? Where has he gone?