Why Kanye’s Posturing Never Bothered Me
Black women don't have time for humility. We don't have the luxury of being coy about our accomplishments. As Black women--as Black people in general, we have been ill taught in the ways with which to deal with our successes. Boastfulness is likened to sin and pride is seen as same. In reality we endure a situation in which we have to battle baby daddy and baby mama stereotypes among other similarly plaguing titles and characterizations--the implications of which are never positive. We are reminded so frequently of the statistics that emphasize the darkest realities of our condition. We, so consistently, are forced to battle the systematic racism that we were born into. And in merely making a living, we are implicit in this crime. There are seldom any public mainstream forums that characterize us objectively. We are judged by our inadequacies, and never by our accomplishments. We participate in this trajectory when we are silent in our titles, disallowing others to call us doctor or lawyer in public—being shy about our successes. Meanwhile who and what we are up against use freely the words that remind us of the unfortunate aspects of our condition. Where do we seek solace? Where do our children look for hope? How do they come to understand the different models of Blackness? The answer must be found within our speech--in the information we choose to share. We are already vigilant in our journeys toward excellence but we must learn to sing our own praises while we traverse said journey. Our story cannot constantly be told and informed by others. We must start editing these chapters on our own. Only then will the world know--when we share this sort of knowledge of ourselves with ourselves. Because, ultimately, our children and our peers cannot become what they are unaware of. They cannot become what they do not see.
We have a brand to protect. Kanye West has always protected his. He unequivocally shares his greatness in comparison to his peers. He unabashedly shares his opinion of himself. Save some socially unacceptable behavior, Kanye West has been confident in what he has to offer different industries. I can only hope we take a dose of West’s perspective of himself and apply it to ourselves—just a dose though, it won’t hurt. We are Black Girl Fly. And it’s ok to remind ourselves every now and then.
Black women navigate the world with partial stories (we all do, it’s the ill-fated impact of watching edited clips of television shows and reading one-sided accounts of history) sometimes even thinking we're the exception to an unsubstantiated norm. If we believe what is being shared most often, it begins to inform our view of self, for race is a primary means by which we identify. And if we fancy ourselves the exception, it inevitably creates a sort of condescension that serves as poison toward any potential unity. We have to be prepared with this sort of understanding. We must expose the whole truth. Not only is it our responsibility to be successful, it is our responsibility to speak about it. Before you rest your head at night, be sure to ask yourself, “Did I Kanye today?” –I think he will like being turned into a verb.
Ruth Jean-Marie is a recent graduate of New York University where she received her Master’s of Science degree in Global Affairs with a concentration in human rights and international law. Dedicating her life to the alleviation of misery around the world, her greatest goal is to become a superhero. Her interests include fashion, equality for women and Black people--that real equality, not the surface level stuff, traveling around the world and writing. She's excited about life and intends on living it. She also has a mild obsession with shoes, shopping and sharing her opinion. You'll hear all about it. Catch up with Ruth, honoring Black History, past, present and future at @toharrietwithlove.