CAMPUS, Culture, LIFE+STYLE

OPINION | The Gospel According to Ye

Sunday Service was on a Saturday

Photo by Payton Mack

By Jada Orr

Sounds of organized noise and drum beats were rising, meeting the students and alum walking curiously up Georgia Avenue. The high notes seemed to whisper in the early morning winds of a homecoming weekend secret. Choral harmonies continued to rise and carried on to meet everyone on campus where they were. I thought, “Let me get up and give Ye a chance.”

I knew many students, some extremists of cancel-culture, would be in bed and wake up just in time to preach their ideas later in the day, before forgetting it all at the tailgate. Looking to identify the space in cancel-culture that allows an individual to be redeemed, I got up to be present in the capacity that many would soon criticize without being there to know the facts of the matter they’d be arguing about later.

I walked that dreadful hill with white women rushing aimlessly in front of me. “Which way is the yard?” and, “You think Kim is here?” I heard them ask. I looked across the street and saw little white boys in their sneakers and streetwear; proud hypebeasts on the way to a Kanye show. 

The yard, the central space of the spiritual experience that is Howard, had oddly become the most uncomfortable and inauthentic I never imagined it could be. Kanye West, the self-proclaimed god, was surrounded by his choir with their hands up in praise, singing sanctified renditions of his songs. 

In just those few hours, our institution was clowned and our culture became questionable. I watched Howard women scurry with excitement to catch a glimpse, a photo, something that would prove they were in the presence of a woman who had made millions imitating and reshaping beauty standards to match those of black female bodies and still be unattainable for black women.

 “Oh my God, it’s Kim!” said the Howard woman next to me.

Kanye West was at Howard University, negating his cancellation and attempting to create a spiritual experience. For me, Howard had never felt more unholy.

In favor of identifying the space of redemption in cancel-culture, I will acknowledge Kanye, and even Kim’s, good intent. However, ignorance is bliss. 

On the basis of religion, I question how Ye equates a mini-tour, with complimenting overpriced merch, to creating a church. A church is more than just a few words to touch the heart and some gospel music; creating an illusion. On that same note, wanting to start a church doesn’t necessarily make you fit to do so either. I understand the comical Christians Ye was referring to that refuse to believe him when he says he’s been reborn again. Who are they, or anyone, to tell someone who they are in God’s eyes or their purpose in ministry? Everyone’s ministry is different and we are all called to serve in different ways. So, I’m going to leave that alone. 

However, my question is: Is Ye familiar with the story of Jesus and the “den of thieves”?

Throughout my entire Christian upbringing, from the quiet Catholic church to one of the biggest black Baptist churches in South Carolina, the story of the den of thieves always stuck out to me in a very sinister way. Jesus arrives at the temple in Jerusalem to find merchants selling and buying, making profits in what is meant to be a house of prayer. Jesus literally destroys everything; overturns tables and sets cattle loose, driving out all those in the temple who participated in trade. It’s the only story I knew when reading I could imagine Jesus Christ, as pure and forgiving as he had been depicted, to be furiously disappointed. And it was all because practices of capitalism made a way into the temple of God.      

To make a spectacle out of God, blatantly intersecting the Christian faith and his capitalist gain, I can’t support Kanye on that. 

On the basis of politics, I am not that impressed with Ye and Kim. 

We all understand the lack of logic in Kanye and 45’s relationship. But unlike 45, Ye has been open about his mental health as well as his reasoning for forming a relationship with 45. While Kim attempts to follow in the footsteps of her father, she finds herself disagreeing with 45 and Ye’s politics. This is where they lose me: If Kim and Ye are really using so much of their time and resources to understand how people, especially those of color, have been unjustly imprisoned and treated by the well functioning system that is the US justice system, they’d understand the grand scheme that has manipulated the individuals they’ve helped. It is amazing that they’ve been able to help multiple individuals with their various efforts. But if they’re really about that work, and using their strange connection to 45 to their advantage, I need to see more work on legislation and public policy. Although they’ve helped so many individuals already, there’s too many just like them that deserve just as much consideration. 

The only contribution we can determine in this unusual encounter between Kanye and our university is our own. We need to focus on the role of our university at this particular point in our history. 

Howard embraces and welcomes black intellectuals, perspectives of all walks of the black experience. It’s a part of what makes us Howard. We embrace each aspect that makes black life this multifaceted reality. So while some students are disappointed in their fellow bison who made that early morning trip up the hill, other students went for their own legitimate reasons. It was strange to see how quick students were to call fellow bison “coons” for not identifying within the same space as them on the subject matter. I understand why many students were upset with students that attended; however, I believe it’s a matter of students contrasting in discerning Kanye’s presence at Howard to be about politics, religion, culture, or just straight entertainment. 

This does not include the students who could care less with comments like “I don’t care about the slavery was a choice stuff, dude makes good music and that’s all that matters”. Yes, everything a black person does or doesn’t do should not be inherently political. Unfortunately, until someone like Kanye can make comments that represent only him and not the rest of the black community, every move a black leader makes will continue to be inherently political to the American public and detrimental to the rest of us. 

On the note of black mental health, if Ye is trying to find himself after battling with his bipolar disorder, why are we not being supportive of that? This is where cancel-culture becomes virulent. What does Kanye, or anyone that the black community has decided no longer deserves support, need to do or express to show repentance from deeds of their past? For some students, it was important to not show up to the yard to show a lack of support for his political ideas. But for

others, it was about seeing if this figure our community once held is seriously trying to find the guy we paid tickets and bought albums, memorized Graduation and thought of him to be.

This homecoming left me with so many questions and concerns. Maybe there are bigger concerns than if North and Saint know Howard as that place daddy performed at or as the illustrious university that we know to be. I think one thing that may bring a sense of relief to all the tension surrounding the situation, one we all could agree on, is if Ye takes on Dr. Carr’s offer for some good reads.  

“If they throwing slave nets again, how about we all don’t stand in the exact same place?”  

Lord, wake up Mr. West. 

2 Timothy 4:3.       

October 18, 2019