by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Are you an individual? Or are you a cog in the great machine of race? Are your achievements your own, or do they belong to that machine? That’s the big question bubbling up over Kanye West, and The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates has finally brought it to the surface.
… Coates tore into West in brutal fashion, alleging that West had bowed to the power of whiteness, leaving behind his own people. …
… West’s music is not his own — it is the collective property of black people across the world. West is not a creator; he is merely a conduit for black history and culture.
And so West has broken faith with that role by thinking for himself. By embracing Trump — or at least expressing openness to him — West has given way to white history going back to “before there was an America, when the first Carib was bayoneted and the first African delivered up in chains.” West, Coates wrote, has “chosen collaboration.” …
… In attacking West in this fashion, Coates actually proves West’s larger point. West argued that he was an individual, capable of making individual decisions and thinking individual thoughts; he argued that there were many Americans who wanted to box him in, deliberately prevent him from thinking outside that box. Coates’ response: Stop thinking outside the box, or I’ll call you white.