Kanye West Accused of Using ‘Classic Anti-Semitic Stereotype’ The Anti-Defamation League has responded to statements made by West in a radio interview

Article in the Entertainment Section in the Times


Last week, Kanye West appeared on an interview show on New York’s 105.1 FM radio and, in between discussing his latest album and comparing himself to Walt Disney and denouncing racism, got to the topic of the difference between rappers and… Jewish people. About 12 minutes into the 42-minute interview (linked above), West says of the atmosphere at Roc-A-Fella that, “We ain’t Jewish. We don’t got family that got money like that. The rappers became the new family.” Later, around the 32-minute mark, discussing the dearth of black billionaires, he says that, “Black people don’t have the same level connections as Jewish people.”

Now, anti-Semitism watchdog the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has responded to his remarks, calling him out for “fueling [a] classic anti-Semitic stereotype.” Abraham H. Foxman’s, the groups’ national director, said in a statement:

There it goes again, the age-old canard that Jews are all-powerful and control the levers of power in government. As a celebrity with a wide following, Kanye West should know better. We hope that he will take responsibility for his words, understand why they are so offensive, and apologize to those he has offended.

So far, no such apology has been forthcoming.

(MOREKanye West Calls Out Nike Executive During Concert)

This isn’t the first time that West has made use of the stereotype about the relationship between Judaism and money. As quoted in Touré’s book Never Drank the Kool-Aid, West once described Jay Z as his “Jewish father,” because “Jewish families show their sons how to make money.” He has also drawn criticism for comparing himself to Hitler (though in that last case he was referring to people looking at him like he’s as bad as Hitler, not to any similarity between his views and Naziism).

The ADL is no stranger to controversy itself, and has been accused of overreacting in other situations, but there’s no doubt that West’s remarks in this most recent radio interview do play into the anti-Semitic stereotype in question. Which is ironic, in the larger context of the interview: the whole point West was trying to make was, at its heart, about the way institutionalized prejudices affect artists working today.

But, if the rest of West’s radio interview was sincere, there’s some hope he might learn from being chastised by the ADL. “I want you to tell me everything that I’m doing wrong in front of everybody,” he says, “so that I can improve that.”




Check out minute 13 and again at 32 minutes.

On The Radio Radio Program The Breakfast Club, Kanye West threw out the most racist anti-Semitic phrase equating Jews to money and ruling the world without one person calling his racism out on a show where one of the main themes was racism in America. His racist thinking was accepted and silently affirmed.

As someone who is surrounded by working class and financially struggling Jewish families in Morocco (that’s in Africa) and America, I am offended by the outright ignorance of his comments. Kanye generalizes an entire group of folks and hates on the few Jews who have succeeded with their intellect and talent despite racism, genocide and a history of slavery.

As Kanye West is trying to break down racism in America and speak about ‘haters’ of his success perhaps he can target his own racist belief that “Jews” run the round the world that is as old fashioned and antiquated but no less ugly as the deep seated hate from the Nazi era.

In the show Kanye says he is: “speaking to the future. I am ten years ahead mentality and I am trapped in today’s time.” I certainly hope that he is not representative of the future but as more and more reports come out about the rise of anti-semitism and broad based acceptance of racism like that of racist posters painting the French Justice Minister Christine Taubira as a monkey, perhaps Kanye is right about being the ugly face of racism in the future with the silent approval even from allies.


Is Lorde’s “Royals” Racist?

A week ago a blogger on the site feministing.com posted in my opinion a very unfair and unbalanced deconstruction of Lorde’s song “Royals”. The blogger quoted from what she wanted, ignoring most of the rest and labelled it “deeply racist.” Why? “Because we all know who she’s thinking when we’re talking gold teeth, Cristal and Maybachs. So why shit on black folks? Why shit on rappers? Why aren’t we critiquing wealth by taking hits at golf or polo or Central Park East?”

Many commentators from New Zealand rightfully accused the blogger of acting in an elitist and an imperialistic manner by taking Lorde and her music out of context as American’s most often do. We see the world not as it is or as others see things but as we see it and it gets annoying to others that inhabit the rest of the world.

In response to her article I had to write the blogger the following:

As a fellow feminist conscious of the intersections of race, class, and (trans)/gender in America, I know what you wanted to say. You wanted to lump Lorde with Miley Cyrus and call it day. People rightfully don’t agree with your argument that is terribly problematic and frankly patronizing not just to readers but to black folks and people of color as well.

Lorde has the right to speak about popular culture and the white-run, white-consumed, minstrel-show that is all too often what we get from mainstream hip hop made for profit that has N-o-t-h-i-n-g to do with underground hip hop and the d-i-v-e-r-s-i-t-y of black culture in America.

a) It is profoundly racist of you to lump “all of blackness” and “people of color” to some music video props.

“Black music” (in a cultural studies context) has a legacy in almost every single American musical art form we have from blues to rock and roll to disco and beyond. Trying to “save black music” from someone demeaning it and dismissing it, is not what you did here. You literally linked all black folks to MTV music video props! That is the only thing racist here.

Lorde never took issue with “black American music” (which is all American music). She loves hip-hop and apparently you do too from your video on Twitter. Lorde didn’t film herself in her hipster apartment trying her best impression of “coolness” on the backdrop of “black musical” hip hop beats (which is what you would expect from a 16 year old). Nope, she made a damn good critique of silly props and consumerism that you would expect from a feminist blog. She has the right to make her thoughtful critique and do what feminism intended: EXPRESS HERSELF, make music if you wants, continue being thoughtful and live without someone unfairly shaming her!

Are you the one that gives permission to who can critique pop culture if that intersects with “black music”? Which brings me to the second point.

b) Feeling entitled to save “blackness” or “protect it” in the way you just did is very infantalizing and condescending.

c) Without looking at class and culture in your critique (as if there is not just one monolithic black culture and it lived in an MTV music video) is problematic at best and racist at worst.

Lorde is not just a feminist but in light of this article seems to be a much more critical and thoughtful than other self-proclaimed older feminists that took a few race and gender classes in college and learned a few concepts they still don’t fully understand. I have become her fan of Lorde thanks to this article. I didn’t realize just how relevant she was.

On a personal note, since we seem to have gone there by calling Lorde a racist based on nothing, I would like to say from one feminist to another, being unable to listen to the wisdom of the great critiques you are getting here is incredibly similar to what it looks like when Miley Cyrus continues to stick her tongue out and call her appropriation sexy and cool. Being unable to listen to the validity of these comments from “laypeople” as you see them and ignore the many people of color who are also writing to you, evidences a kind of insecurity and elitism to be expected from a Ted Cruz type, not a supposedly self-aware feminist that examines culture.

Instead of rejecting the very good critiques coming from all over the world including NZ (that are frankly amazingly thoughtful and intelligent, wow, it’s great to hear their points of views) you recognize that you don’t own a monopoly on truth. You viewed it the way you wished to and that is fine but if you can dish out the scathing accusations and critiques you best be prepared to take the intelligent critiques without waving your Victorian wand at the peasants that aren’t “at your level”.

If Lorde wants to artistically speak about what she sees on TV as a by-product of American Imperialism, she can go there without your permission and she has the obligation to go there as an artist and should feel uninhibited to go.