As someone who walks around rockin’ a fitted-cap with the letters C.O.O.N.—I sorta, kinda understand Kanye’s Confederate flag. I think its peachy-keen how black folk have snatched the ratchetness & wretchedness from the jaws of oppression and flip-da-script on such derogatory words as the N-word (and made a soul food faire of shitlins pig intestines.) Kanye West has a lot of people peeved over his Confederate flag—and rightly so!
Every evil, vile and despicable thing can be said about the Confederate flag. Most of us know what it stood for and stands for. Indeed, Kanye West knows its history, although he hasn’t really expounded on the origins other than to say, “You know, the Confederate flag represented slavery in a way—that’s my abstract take on what I know about it… So I took the Confederate flag and made it my flag! It’s my flag! Now what are you going to do?”
“In a way?” One would think that Kanye would really get down to the nitty-gritty and not talk in “abstraction” about a symbol so hurtful—you know, put some intellectual mustard on his Confederate flag sammach! As we have it, Kanye has found a new toy and wants us to know that it’s his! But Kanye is not the first rapper to don the Confederate flag. He is doing no new thing, save selling it for profit. Rappers Pastor Troy, David Banner and Outkast once waved the Confederate flag, but theirs was more in protest of the southern way of life. Kanye’s appears self-serving. Kanye is marketing and selling the Confederate flag.
But now, let’s kick da ballistics! The Confederate flag and Betsy Ross’s stars & stripes American flag were birthed at the same time and represented identical ideologies in their founding. Say what? Say word! Both flags held sway over an African people for 89 years! (1776-1865) Under both flags slavery persisted! Like the Confederate states in the Antebellum South under President Jefferson Davis, the North promulgated “That Peculiar Institution” (slavery) as well. It was only when the North became more industrial that the slave question began to be of importance. Unlike the agrarian South, which needed slaves to yield crops and work farmland, the North outgrew its use of the slave in vast numbers.
Don’t get it twisted! My point? Northerners were no less racist.
Both flags did us wrong, yet we haven’t taken the stars & stripes to task as we have done with the Confederate flag. We are taught to “pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America," but what we are not told is that that same Republic gave no fucks about us either! Abraham Lincoln aka “The Great Emancipator” was no friend of the Colored race. I know they taught you that he “freed the slaves,” but that just wasn’t the case. Lincoln was no humanitarian as we were lead to believe when we were children. Black freedom came second only to saving the Union. In an August 1862 letter to his good friend Horace Greeley Lincoln wrote:
“If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union.”
I bet your high school history teacher didn’t let you read this! The hell? (Lincoln “freeing” the slaves to save the Union is akin to the ancient Jewish priests forbidding homosexuality to save Israelite religion. Think on it!)
Taking things a step further and proving that The North and their stars & stripes were just as fraudulent as the Confederate, in 1863 Lincoln signed the “Emancipation Proclamation”—the document that supposedly ended slavery, but oh contraire! Lincoln’s document only freed the slaves that were under Southern Confederate rule---south of the Mason-Dixon Line. That document did not (I repeat!) did not free the slaves under Union control! And since President Jefferson (Yes! America had two sitting presidents at the same time!) in the Souf was god, the Emancipation Proclamation was no more than a piece of toilet paper parchment used for wiping one’s ass! It held no weight in the South, thus, later on after the Union won the Civil War Lincoln passed the 13th Amendment, the document which finally ended physical slavery.
But now, get this! Did you know that there were black slaves that fought on the side of the South? Did you know that, like Kanye West’s Confederate flag-wearin’ ass, there were blacks who saw no other way to exist other than helping the Confederate keep a foot on their necks and a boot in their asses? Somewhere between 65,000 to 100,000 blacks fought on the side of the Confederate army where some 13,000 black combatants “saw the elephant” (actually fought).
Can you imagine fighting on the battlefield of freedom only to run up on a fellow slave who’s down with the oppressor? Perhaps that’s a nigga that needs to die (in my humble opinion).
Kanye West is not an original type—not back then or today! Black folk have been intimately entangled in the Confederate flag from the beginning. The question that we want to understand is what is Kanye’s motivation? Is this for show? Is he trying to stimulate a national debate on race? Why are you really wearing the Confederate flag? Are you really trying to put this symbol into the gumbo pot of nigger, coon, and chitlins?
I understand where Kanye might be coming from! How ever deplorable, white folk don't own any word! Yes! You meant harm when you used it--you meant harm when you waved it, but I'm claiming the word and the symbol and taking the power from it! Give me that shit!
Like my word C.O.O.N., which is an acronym for "Consciously Optimistic, Overtly Nihilistic." It is the philosophy of questioning, deconstructing & ridding one's self of antiquated, archaic and outdated thinking--and not merely a word for shock value. Nothing is definitive, concrete or finite! Everything is subjective & debatable!
If nothing more, Kanye West is reppin' for those 100,000 Southern slaves who were down for the Confederate, but I would hope that Kanye is a teacher, because, I sorta, kinda understand his intentions.
Khalil Amani is a blogger for AllHipHop. He also writes for DJ Kay Slay’s Originators Magazine & Straight Stuntin Magazine. Amani also writes for Hoodgrown, Maybach and Sext Magazines. He is the author of six books, including the ground-breaking book, “Hip-Hop Homophobes…” iuniverse.com 07). Amani is gay hip-hop’s self-proclaimed straight advocate. Visit The Coonerific One at http://www.khalilamani.ning.com Follow on Facebook/Twitter @khalilamani. Youtube @ yahweh 12 Khalilamani@yahoo.com