Fashion should push the envelope…But not everyone wearing Kanye West’s shirt will be a black person who is trying to change the meaning of a symbol that has so much pain behind it.
Is the Confederate Flag a New Fashion Trend?
According to Kanye West it is. Kanye West is known to shock. He’s also known to coin phrases (his infamous line about George Bush’s lack of affinity for black folks is hardly forgettable). And he’ll fire off all caps rants into the interwebs on anything. And I mean anything (Kanye’s top 5 rants).
You know the storyline; we’ve seen the blogs. He’s very opinionated. He’s been photographed recently rocking the Confederate flag like it’s no big deal. It doesn’t stop there.
He’s also incorporated the Confederate flag into his Yeezus concert apparel – perhaps playing into the theme of one of his songs titled “Black Skinhead.” So do we expect anything less from hip hop’s most opinionated? We shouldn’t, but this just rubs me the wrong way.
The Confederate Flag Will Never Symbolize Freedom
In my mind the Confederate flag is as offensive as would it be if a white person called me the n-word. So why on earth, and for the love of ‘Yeezus,’ would I wear clothing to support this?
I get it. WE get it. The n-word has been turned around. Black people use it as a term of endearment. Kanye West does what he wants. This is 2013 and everyone is so tolerant. True style is about pushing boundaries. Racism “doesn’t really exist.”
But the Confederate flag is not a symbol of Americanism or freedom, and it’s surely not a fashion statement.
The Confederate battle flag, called the “Southern Cross” or the cross of St. Andrew, has been described as both a symbol of Southern heritage and as a gut-wrenching reminder of slavery and segregation. The Confederate battle flag has been seized by the Ku Klux Klan and other racist hate groups and used as one of their emblems.
And that is the view most of us have of the flag. Not one of strong American heritage, but that of pain, racism and controversy.
Does Controversy Equal Art?
Fashion should push the envelope; after all, that is the only way we see new trends. Someone was brave enough the go against the grain. But not everyone wearing Kanye West’s shirt will be a black person who is trying to change the meaning of a symbol that has so much pain behind it. Kanye West fans are multi-racial.
The real issue becomes a disregard for people’s emotional connections to slavery’s dark past. We dismiss it by trying to embrace a symbol that should be left to rest or maybe even discussed at greater length.
It is OK to still be disgusted by racism (this of course doesn’t mean you run around thinking ‘the man’ is after you). Forgiveness doesn’t always mean forgetfulness–but I simply can’t get with this.
There are SO many other flags. Why this one? Why push the envelope just for the sake of pushing the envelope? Does controversy equal art? The truth is, Kanye West hasn’t explained his use of the confederate flag well enough.
He told Hot 107.9 in a recent interview, “It’s not the question of racism and symbols, but more of being free as an artist. As an artist, I can use whatever I want to use to create with.”
But can he really use whatever he wants? Like I’ve said before, I generally applauded him for his style. He wears interesting things and I can’t be mad at someone who attempts to have a fashion POV. But let’s leave the historically offensive symbols at the door and move towards creating art that yes, evokes emotion, but is ultimately just plain dope – sans unnecessary controversy.
Do you think the confederate flag has lost its meaning? Or is Kanye’s confederate flag just as offensive as it’s ever been?