Two years ago, I wrote a column for Role Reboot about why I had purged my music library of Kanye West, with the exception of Chance the Rapper’s Coloring Book (Slavery is a Choice comments). That album is an audible masterclass on black excellence, and very much a product of the latter’s talent opposed to the former’s ego. 2020, the year that will go down as our true reckoning with the systemic oppression that has propped up the fabric of our country as it continues to spawn with our celebrity-saturated-culture, would not be complete without Ye entering politics, complete with his own unique spin on the traditional campaign rally. I never thought I would long to hear the sounds of a Sousa march behind a speech filled with buzzwords with such a tenacity until now. On second thought, I think I would settle for him taking JK Rowling, Kellyanne Conway and Candace Owen on an extended retreat to one of his ranches in Wyoming.
Our country is in the midst of a pandemic that continues to snowball out of control purely due to hubris. Related to that, is the economy, where it seems that even by publication time on this article, we will be at least a week away from a stimulus package meant to fix after letting our last safety net lapse. Depending on whom you are speaking with, experts want a full shutdown to reset our pandemic response, or at least one for hotspots and a nationwide mask mandate. Our children are set to be political pawns when many of them return to underprepared, overcrowded, underfunded, unsafe classrooms at the end of the month. Black lives are still considered second-tier, somehow a debatable topic, and not choosing to human life above all other aspects of society. Worry not America, Kanye is here to fix it all with his asinine declarations about Harriet Tubman.
Believe me, I am very much aware that everything currently happening with, to, from, involving Kanye is either directly or indirectly related to him not taking his mental health with the seriousness that it requires. Whatever Kanye is choosing to do in regards to his bi-polar disorder is the antithesis of mental wellbeing. Kanye refuses to take medicine, citing that strips him of his creativity. Ye has also spent the pandemic alone in Wyoming on one of his ranches, while his wife and children hunkered down at “Kamp Kardashian” in LA. For all of the things considered with Kim’s decision-making skills, it is apparent that she is putting the wellbeing of her children in higher regard than their father, who felt the need to tell the entire world that when they were first pregnant with North, the topic of abortion was one that circulated early. Little bit of obvious information incoming, when people suffering from mental illnesses are left to their own isolated thoughts and devices, they usually spiral further down the rabbit hole.
I have made it no secret that I live with Borderline Personality Disorder. When I think on the amount of time I have lost due to my mental illness, either literally because I was too lost within intrusive thoughts, or an unrealistic sense of myself and the world around me. Or, the paranoid insistence that everyone I loved hated me, or me feeling so much of everything and nothing all at once that I would end trying to harm myself, or push everyone away; it makes me angrier with Kanye. Suffering from a mental illness does not increase my creative side; it simply makes me unstable. It is a cycle of two good days before something minute and trivial sends me spiraling. It robs me of healthy relationships, and unable to keep a job or stay focused on academic endeavors. It steals my passions, because everything becomes lost under this fog of my own broken thoughts and terrible coping mechanisms. I lost a large chunk of the last decade of my life to just trying to survive the roller coaster going on between my own ears. The fact that I still have people in my life from the worst of it is a testament to their good-hearted love for me, and nothing redeeming about what an absolute jerk of a person I was to be around. Had I had health insurance or access to mental care at the time, I would have figured out that reality without inflicting as much pain onto my loved ones and myself as I did, because underneath my hyper-mania was just hurt. Another point that Kim K. was quite astute about, while mental health does not define a person, the trajectory in relation to their recovery lies completely within their own decisions, something that Kanye refuses to accept and internalize.
Ye’s political endeavors are not what matters. Honestly, the fact that he has deluded with himself that he cannot see that in reality, any genius creativity he had, is currently completely over shadowed by his very public, toxic mental freefall. What I care about is that he has access and resources to mental health treatment and help that the majority of us only dream about during our own struggles. I care that underneath his celebrity, he is the father of four young children who have to live in a world where their father is neither pariah nor messiah, just a sick man insisting he is above living in a world of consequences. While West has more money and fame than I can comprehend, all of that is going to be for naught if his children grow up to have to reckon with the reality that their father chose success and celebrity over caring about their wellbeing and their own mental health. While his polarizing nature and larger-than-life persona make him an enigmatic personality, underneath it all is just a very sick person who is choosing to inflict pain onto himself and his loved ones, and that is nothing to celebrate or champion.
- Asher Kennedy is a writer, activist, transman and cisnerd living an hour outside of Washington in the Eastern Panhandle of WV. An alumnus of Shepherd University where honed both his writing and musical skills, he is the current treasurer of Hagerstown Hopes, serving as a member of its Board of Directors. He is also the co-facilitator of both the Trans and Spouse groups. Through his work with Hagerstown Hopes, he works alongside Trans Healthcare MD to bridge the gap for medical knowledge and coverage for the trans and non-binary communities throughout Maryland. He has been featured on RoleReboot (rolereboot.org) and is an avid speaker for local college and community panels. He is on Twitter @ItsAsherK, and can be found re-watching the same six episodes of The Office in his spare time.