Kanye West is a welcomed disruptive voice

Kanye West is a welcomed disruptive voice
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Kanye WestKanye Omari WestKanye West: 'I buy real estate. It's better now than when Obama was in office' Celebrities from Kanye West to Angelina Jolie donate to coronavirus charities Michael Jackson estate donating 0,000 to help people in entertainment industry during coronavirus MORE’s skyrocketing popularity after his recent conversion to Christianity and vigorous actions to evangelize black Americans has generated aggressive criticism. But in fact, the renowned rapper and entertainer has proven to be a much-needed disruptive force for good

West has led church services that have attracted thousands of black youths, some of whom said they had never entered a church before. More than 14,000 thousand people jammed Joel Osteen’s megachurch when West confessed to his previous lifestyle of arrogance and self-aggrandizement and acknowledged his bouts with mental illness. Departing from conventional forms of worship, Kanye’s large chorus surrounded him and, hands raised, stepped to the beat of his new album, “Jesus is King,” which he rapped as an enthralled crowd swayed with the beat. 

West recently was threatened with legal action for conducting a worship service inside a Texas prison where men were seen embracing one another and giving praise. West’s clarion call for spiritual renewal has been dismissed and criticized by those who point to his personal failures of the past. Yet the people I respect the most don’t have a Ph.D. after their names but an “ex” in front of their names. They are men and women who have escaped the bonds of past failures and risen up to empower others to do the same. Throughout biblical history, God has used broken people. In short, God does not use the capable; He uses the called and makes them capable. 


West’s most fierce opposition will come from the ranks of the “race industry” that profits from keeping black Americans in a state of perpetual grievance. West’s call for personal responsibility and positive action may have the power to topple a lucrative industry that has been built on racial grievance and the claim that the most devastating problems of the black community are rooted in external causes — the legacy of slavery and discrimination — that, according to this theory, have resulted in the today’s crisis of rampant violence, poverty and devastated communities.

West is looking to what the black community could and should be doing for itself. His message is a powerful antidote to the debilitating drumbeat of victimhood and demands that have bamboozled blacks. All the political pundits and academicians reinforce the mantra that the chaos in black communities result from external forces. These pundits, like the New York Times’ 1619 Project, invest themselves in establishing a history to support their claim of an inescapable legacy of racism and slavery.

But these self-proclaimed “social justice warriors” are exacerbating a problem they helped to create, and they demand payment for their efforts to solve the crisis — like the man who murders his parents and appeals for leniency because he is an orphan. Among these opportunists are corporations that have raked in vast profits through “racial sensitivity” training of educators in school districts with high rates of suspensions of black students resulting from school violence and predatory behavior. 

The nation witnessed what happened when, as a candidate in 2008, President Obama challenged black men to take responsibility and the critical reaction against his message from accepted black “spokespersons” such as Jesse Jackson. Now West is bravely utilizing his status as a cultural icon of young people to leverage the scale and impact of his message — that they have the power to change. He is uniquely equipped to serve as the liberating, disruptive force that black America so desperately needs.

West is, in short, applying old values to a new vision that builds on time-honored survival strategies from black America’s past. Throughout the history of the black community, one way of silently resisting oppression was to engage in superior performance. 


For example, in 1943, when the Navy was compelled to train black officers, it utilized strategies designed to ensure their failure. In one instance, 13 black cadets were given eight weeks of training that typically required 16 weeks for whites. When the black cadets discovered this scheme, they doubled down in their efforts and offered each other support. They covered the windows of their barracks and studied all night. Their test scores were in the 93rd percentile. They were then each re-tested and their scores rose by 2 percent. Those men are now honored as the “Golden Thirteen.” 

Nothing was more of a powerful force against oppression than black America’s determination and strong code of moral conduct, which was based upon their Christian tradition. It is this tradition that West is calling back from the past.

When white America was at its worst, black America was at its best. The decimation of the black nuclear family and black-on-black genocide in the streets did not occur even during the Great Depression. In fact, until the mid-1960s, poverty was never associated with social dysfunction and criminal behavior. Black marriage rates were higher than those of any other racial group. Grandparents could safely walk in their neighborhoods without fear of being assaulted. 

Kayne West now has the power to lead a movement that will help black America to begin to confront the enemy within. I, along with thousands of others, am ready to sign up.

Robert L. Woodson, Sr. is the president and founder of the Woodson Center. Follow him on Twitter @BobWoodson.