Seeing as it's all the rest of the Internet wants to talk about, let's talk about Kanye West for a minute, shall we? If you have been alive in the last 48 hours, you've probably heard that Kanye West had a concert in Sydney Australia the other night. What's so special about this concert, you may ask: in mid-performance Kanye told the crowd that he needed everyone to stand up in order for him to perform his next song. When he saw two people in the crowd were not standing up, he stopped the performance and demanded that they stood. It was soon discovered that the two people Kanye had chosen to single out were wheelchair users, and therefore could not stand up on his request. Effectively Kanye had stopped a concert to yell at a kid in the wheelchair for not standing up. Bad Kanye, bad! Right? I I'm not so sure...
Let me back up for second. Do I like Kanye West? No. Do I think Kanye West is a good person? Not particularly, no. Do I do any respect for Kanye West whatsoever? Nope, I can’t say that I do. But, do I think that he is a horrible human for yelling at a kid in a wheelchair to stand up? No. Let me explain.
As most of you know, and as I hope the name of my blog would imply, I am in a wheelchair, and I have been in one all my life. Growing up, I can honestly say, the greatest personal insults anyone could ever give me was to give me a double standard. Obviously, my being asked to stand up, or climb a rope in gym class, just wasn’t going to happen. I'm not talking about the physical double standard. I'm talking about one on a much more personal level. When someone completely changes who they are or what they expect from me because I am sitting in a wheelchair, that is insulting. Example: The teacher who is known as the biggest hard ass in school yells at the entire class, demanding that they do better, then turns to me and tells me in a much lower, softer, kinder voice, "you are doing an awesome job! Keep it up." If I have been doing the exact same thing the other kids in the class have been doing (which was true more often than not) then that little conversation hurts more than an actual slap in the face.
There is nothing more patronizing than someone who changes everything about them, their expectations, their personality, their communication style for me, and only me. It hurts, because they might as well be saying, "because you are in that chair, you obviously can't handle the real me, so hang on one second, let me dumb it down a little bit."
Back to the whole Kanye situation: He's a jerk. He's a jerk to everyone. He thinks that everyone should stand up when he says so, because that's who he is. He thinks that the world revolves around him, and he has thought that for a very long time. He's a jerk, and you know what? He was a jerk to those people in wheelchairs too. I know that I might be stepping on rocky ground here (yes, pun intended), I know that I wasn't the person in that situation, and I might feel differently if I was, but to me that's a compliment. I know that it was in no way intended as one, but he didn't stop and change who he was because of the wheelchairs. He yelled about it, and then when he realized why they weren't standing, he continued on with his business being his usual jerky self while standing on top of the world. He didn't stop and talk to them in a different tone, he didn't apologize, he moved on.
Kanye West is a jerk, and he didn't "dumb it down" when he realized these people were in wheelchairs. I don't like him, what he did, or the way he carries himself, but I like that. All this being said, I have a question: Are we mad at him because he demanded for everyone to stand up? Or, are we mad at him because he treated some kids in wheelchairs the way he treats everyone else? Because let's be real here, he shouldn't have demanded for anyone to stand up. But if he had, and he had stopped the concert because two able-bodied people hadn't stood, this wouldn't have gone viral, and I wouldn't be talking about it right now. Why is that?