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  • Kanye West: ‘America doesn’t care about black people’

    by Sunny
    3rd September, 2005 at 9:41 pm    

    The mutterings had started as soon as Katrina hit. Now rapper Kanye West has given voice to the huge amount of frustration felt by blacks in America over George Bush’s slow response to the hurricane. At TV fund-raising event the outspoken rapper hit out at the American president, saying “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.” He said:

    I hate the way they portray us in the media. You see a black family, it says, “They’re looting.” You see a white family, it says, “They’re looking for food.” And, you know, it’s been five days [waiting for federal help] because most of the people are black.

    It wasn’t in the script, obviously, and went out live on the US east coast but NBC edited it out of the west coast tape.

    You can see the video from here, Washington Post has the full transcript.

    Even before Kanye West’s outburst, bloggers had been pointing out the way the media was portraying black citizens as ‘looters’, while apparently white refugees were getting a better treatment on TV and picture captions. Bush’s shoot-to-kill policy regarding looters didn’t help either, considering most people were just trying to feed themselves.

    Salon covered this here (with caption examples) and here, while the New York Times and Reuters have similar stories on frustration felt by black leaders. More press stories on Google News

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    Filed in: Media

    13 Comments below   |  

    Reactions: Twitter, blogs

    1. Martin — on 3rd September, 2005 at 11:22 pm  

      Is Kanye giving voice to frustration or is he generating public attention towards himself and, conincidentally, to his recently released album?

      Just like the explanation that Feds give about building insufficient levees in New Orleans; it’s all about the benjamins baby.

    2. Al-Hack — on 4th September, 2005 at 1:29 am  

      Hahahaha! Good on Kanye! Although Jesse Jackson and a few others have already been saying that on TV.

      Watching the video, I was struck by how nervous Kanye looked while saying what he did. Not his usual confident self. Most probably he knew he would attract a lot of flak for saying what he did, but good on him.

      Martin - it is easy to be cynical, but looking at some of the evidence on blogs, the fact that its taken 5 days for a disaster that was largely predicted, and that the US govt has neglected New Orleans’ river defenses for years - it definitely points to a culture of ignoring the largely black and poor population.

    3. Ben — on 4th September, 2005 at 4:15 am  

      I think Kayne says something that needed to be said. Though I think, as ever, there is too much concentration on the race issue and not enough on the class. The really despicable thing about the N.O. disaster planning is the laissez-faire approach to evacuation. Have money, car, petrol - get out. Have no money, rely on public transport etc - forced to stay. The real issue is that the Republican Party doesn’t care about the poor or the working class. This we all knew, but the physical consequences of that right-wing view on this occasion are especially graphic and awful to contemplate. (I think though that the whole thing about so many Guards being in Iraq is a total red herring and an example of lazy thinking.)

      Congrats on your launch - came here via HP. I think your perspective has real value and needs to be heard far and wide. Common sense, but not the kind of thing you hear conservative “community leaders” saying when they get invited onto the media and given kid-glove treatment. An important voice in the liberal and anti-communalist perspective that we all need to promote.

      Good luck!

    4. Rahul Verma — on 4th September, 2005 at 11:58 am  

      Kanye West deserves massive credit for having the guts to say what he did. Everybody knows it, and the world over is saying it, and he’s had the balls to say it live on national TV.

      Don’t forget the Dixie Chicks’ career has been virtually destroyed by speaking out against Bush and the war in Iraq.

      Clear Channel entertainment (who now own the Mean Fiddler Group in the UK - responsible for Glastonbury, and probably 70% of gigs that take place in the UK), banned the Dixie Chicks from all over their radio stations across the US (verging on hundreds), in a clear example of capitalist censorship.

      The fact West has spoken out at the time of his LP’s release is all the more creditable, Clear Channel could quite easily repeat the Dixie Chicks scenario.

      Much of his new LP rails against Bush, Iraq and how Reagan and corporate America destroyed the Black Civl Rights Movement, and the Black Panters, by flooding the projects with Crack and Heroin in the early 1980s.

    5. rizwand — on 4th September, 2005 at 1:53 pm  

      Call me cynical, but I’m sure Bush would have been less of a lazy ass on this issue if he was up for re-election.

      Respet to Kanye. I don’t think he has taken the “any publicity is good publicity” approach; as Rahul points out, speaking your mind is not necessarily a good thing in the music world.

      Most of the looters are probably black but that;s because it was most;y poor black people that were left to fend for themselves. While the footage may be an accurate representation of what’s happening, the negative portrayal of black people in the media needs to be addressed.

    6. Joey — on 4th September, 2005 at 3:35 pm  

      Good on Kayne, he pointed out the shame that was the response to Hurricane Katrina. I don`t want to believe that it is because of race that the response was so slow, but I do, the response took way too long unacceptably to long. Perhaps it was hard to get to them and evacuate them, but to not drop food to them for six days is bullshit. We are experts had food drops, we dropped food in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other trouble spots in the world. What took so long in New Orleans?

    7. Al-Hack — on 4th September, 2005 at 4:06 pm  

      Even if he was up for re-election, it would matter little to Bush. New Orleans is a poor and largely Democrat area.

    8. jamal — on 5th September, 2005 at 12:57 am  

      Correct. Bush doesnt have a care or need for New Orleans.

      While the other states were receiving good emergency attention and transportation to safety, I heard a woman in New Orleans say;

      “they sent in many Army vehicles to police us and keep us in, when they should have been sending in buses to take us out!”

      I think that sums up how states with large black populations are considered! … only in America… ‘land of Freedom and Justice’

    9. rizwand — on 5th September, 2005 at 9:49 am  

      the Weekend FT noted that the area wasn’t exactly free from racism before. Previously, the local authorities of New Orleans had sent in black and white students to the famous Bourbon Street. The black researchers found that they were charged more and faced a tougher dress code then the white researchers.

    10. DWMF — on 6th September, 2005 at 4:19 pm  

      Came here via Popinjays.

      A comprehensive answer to KW’s whinings is given by Bill Whittle in his article Tribes.

    11. Sunny — on 7th September, 2005 at 4:01 pm  

      That rant is way too long.

      In the first part though, he makes some implications.

      1) Most of the people were not white-middle class citizens because they had left the city. It was primarily those too poor to leave the city.

      2) This assumption that raping and looting was taking place has been discredited too.

    12. inders — on 7th September, 2005 at 5:39 pm  

      Correction Sunny that article says thats theres no evidence of raping or widescale murder going on, thats different to proof that none of it went on. How do you prove something didn’t happen anyway?

      Theres been a few stories about armed gangs shooting at engineers and law enforcement officers. I’m inclined to believe this because

      > Its an US city and even under the best of times things like that happen. They don’t have one of the highest gun crime rates in the world for no reason. I don’t believe even a tradegy on this scale will stop the criminaly minded. In fact I speculate that it would only encourage them.

      Law and order is needed at all times and I tend to agree with the authorites that it is needed most of all at times like these.

      After say that I wouldn’t agree that taking food from a empty store is looting, i’d call it surviving. But I guess the law and order argument is that if you start allowing that then small business owners that havn’t left their property are at risk and so are private residents that have stayed in their own houses and stocked up on supplies.

      There were stories of childrens hospitals being under siege. People taking expensive clothes and televisions. Is that survival or oppurtunism ? In one amazing broadcast on television engineers who were trying to plug a hole in the water defences came under fire.

    13. SajiniW — on 12th September, 2005 at 8:54 am  

      ‘A thought-provoking response to the disaster, by New Orleans resident historian, Edward J. Branley, can be found at Yat Pundit.


      Mr Branley himself has been displaced by the events that took place, and his perspective, as a democratic liberal, is a refreshing contrast from many American perspectives sent over here. He is in accordance with Kanye’s opposition to Dubya’s handling of the crisis.’

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