Vanessa Beecroft, Kanye West Cannot Offer Racial Amnesty

Vanessa Beecroft, Kanye West Cannot Offer Racial Amnesty

[Opinion] Writer Reads an Artist Who Thinks She is a Black Woman Care of Yeezy

Vanessa Beecroft, Kanye West Cannot Offer Racial Amnesty

Wikimedia Commons

A true friend can lovingly tell another, “You sound like a damn fool.” If you truly care about someone, you don’t let them talk out the side of their necks. As far as intersectional homies go, genuine friendship is a Black friend telling their White friend, “You’re way too comfortable.”

If West can’t find it in his heart to convey any of these sentiments to artist Vanessa Beecroft, he needs to simply change her name in his phone to “Do Not Pick Up” and block any subsequent calls and text. That is, if he takes issue yet another troubling sentiment she’s conveyed about race in the press. I don’t know exactly how close West and artist Beecroft are, but she certainly has no issue using him as a racial beard.



In a new interview with W magazine, Beecroft says of her work with West, “I am protected by Kanye’s talent. I become Black. I am no longer Vanessa Beecroft and I am free to do whatever I want because Kanye allows it."

Unless ‘Ye can wave a magic wand, turn Beecroft into an actual Black woman who gets followed around in a Target by a suburban bigot willing to punch protesters for Donald Trump, this is not how any of this works.

Beecroft is no stranger to controversy when it comes to matters pertaining to race. Not only has she used Blackface in her work before, she has been accused of seeking out Sudanese boys to adopt for the seeming purpose of photographing them for an exhibit. Beecroft proceeded to refer to these orphan kids as poor creature.” Moreover, she reportedly said it was “very stressful to work with Black women.” As if she sounds like a joy to work with.

Vulture once referred to Beecroft as a “hypocritically self-aware, colossally colonial pomo narcissist.” I’d like to add delusional, self-important, casual racist that should report directly into the abyss. However, it should be noted that this is not the first seeming bigot to call Kanye West a friend.

Last year, French A.P.C. designer Jean Touitou’s drew the ire of many over his use of “n*gga” in his latest menswear collection.

As models walked the runway in matching gray sweatpants and A.P.C.-designed Timberlands, Touitou held up a sign that read, “Last Ni##@$ in Paris.” As he explained to Style.com: “I am friends with Kanye, and he and I presented a joint collection at the same place, one year ago, and that this thing is only homage to our friendship. As a matter of fact, when I came up with this idea, I wrote to him, with the picture of the look and the name I was giving to it, and he wrote back immediately, saying something like, ‘I love this vibe.”’

Touitou would go on to apologize, but like Beecroft, Touitou believed that he was protected by his affiliation with West. I don’t know what planet Beecroft resides on nor am certain about whether or not Yeezy gave her a little gas money to fly there. Nevertheless, I do know not only has West expressed that racism is “a dated concept,” he now stands charged with handing out multiple racial hall passes to his artsy and fashion industry friends.

One wonders what exactly West says to these people when he’s in their company. For Beecroft, whatever it was, it was something that convinced her into thinking she can be a Black woman just by virtue of being co-workers. For Jean Touitou, the remarks gave him the strong indication that it was alright for him to use “nigga.”

West has made it painfully clear that he wants acceptance in the worlds of art and fashion, but if this is the kind of company he’s keeping, is it worth it?

Michael Arceneaux hails from Houston, lives in Harlem, and praises Beyoncé’s name wherever he goes. Follow him @youngsinick.





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