I couldn’t bring myself to watch the Youtube interview between Charlamagne Tha God and Kanye West at first. West is visibly suffering from one of the greatest tragedies of fame: a desperation to be loved. Seeing his fall play out through memes and tweets has been painful to watch from the sidelines.
I’m admittedly jilted and drained by the last week of news concerning our Black male leaders and icons, and I’m mentally wading in the crumbling rubble of the statues I built for them in my head.
After I watched TMZ’s Van Lathan verbally articulate the bubbling anger and sadness most Black Americans are emotionally tussling with right now concerning Ye, I had to tap out. I was grateful the words in my heart were in the atmosphere, yet torn apart they even had to be spoken. I finally put the nail in the coffin for my childhood hero—hung the pink polo up in my mind and threw the dirt on the art school drop out, the spoken wordsmith, and the prolific Chi- town iconoclast I knew. Goodbye, Ye.
As I navigated the rest of my evening seeking asylum from Yeezy’s ghost, my Spotify shuffle mockingly threw on “All Falls Down” after “The Devil Is A Lie” wrapped up in my headphones.
“Cuz they made us hate ourselves and love they wealth….” old Kanye raps on the classic track. His own music, now a sonic eulogy of the art we fell in love with. Hell, The man we fell in love with.
Love, at its core, is not meant to be fickle. In Corinthian fashion it is gifted to us to endure all things. Survive conditions. Sustain in a storm.
But when it comes to “loving” our favorite celebs, that endurance wanes. We expect a lot from our famous heroes. Us common folk have to endure rejection from our lovers, jobs, friends and family, but it’s unimaginable to conceive the emotional toll playing that cycle out in front of the world would cost a human being.
Yet, Ye does it every few years. From “George Bush doesn’t care about black People” to “Ima let you finish,” we’ve watched Kanye’s musical genius be overshadowed by his outbursts for decades now.
Ye would eventually credit his “uncontrolled” personality as the catalyst for his fall out with President Barack Obama. In his interview with CThagod, Ye explains that Obama “knows I am his favorite, but I’m not safe. But that’s why you love me.”
And with almost child-like pleading he asks the former president “so just tell me you love me.”
It’s rare in this “no fucks given society” for the sweetness and vulnerability of our inner child to surface through our armor. And there was Ye, raw and open, asking to be loved. I couldn’t help but wonder why a man who wants to be loved so badly continually makes irresponsible decisions that make people hate him.
But then I brought the whole issue out of the cloud of celebrity and down to earth where it could be understood: people who don’t feel they deserve love or who feel unloveable tend to self sabotage. I’ve watched this sordid dance play out among my family members, partners and friends: a push and pull of “ I need you so close to me,” to a sudden series of actions or words that are so harmful, even those I love the most I’ve had to retreat from.
Eckhart Tolle, new age philosopher, describes this cycle as the pain body. While saying we want love, we act in ways that push people away from us to prove to ourselves our deepest fears are right—we are unloveable. I’ve seen men who I’ve loved continually push me away, only to fall into my lap when I finally say “I’m leaving.” I’ve watched men in my own family vacillate between responsible daddy to a “hands off rolling stone” when family expectations kick in.
So it’s not a reach to say, Kanye could say something as heinous as “400 years of slavery was a choice,” with the same lips that are pleading to be loved.
I don’t know the key to deep self love. I believe it’s a journey that ebbs and flows through our lifetime. For Black Americans, that journey is even harder because our “unloveabIlity” is systemic. We were conditioned to hate ourselves and seek white validation.
But I will say, as with any relationship, someone’s inability to truly love and value themselves can eventually bleed all over a connection, and we have to take a step back or walk away—because radical self care is necessary for survival. This is Black America, taking a step back. But this isn’t us versus Ye, it’s Ye vs Ye.
The unrequited love narrative Kanye is playing out with Obama is really a story with himself—one laden with egomania as a cover for insecurity.
I hope you see yourself Ye. As we saw you. As God sees you. And love that image fiercely.
You can follow Keyaira on Twitter & Instagram @keyairakelly