Kanye West is one of Black America’s biggest challenges. He is a supremely talented musician and our introduction to him made us celebrate his success. It wasn’t just the catchy hooks and rhythmic melodies. It was his lyrics. His transparency and self-awareness spoke to us. He said what we wanted to, or wouldn’t, or couldn’t say. He translated our innermost thoughts, insecurities, and fears into a palatable form of sensational samples and heart-thumping bass. Kanye wasn’t just making us dance. He was making us think.
Kanye is a creative. Creatives see the world differently, and help transform our world into something new and exciting. Creatives have energy and drive and seem to extract the very essence of life to deliver it to us mere mortals. He is our favorite Uncle who enters the house with fantastic fury and flair. The kids love him because he does magic tricks and tells stories of wonderful places and adventures we’ve only seen in movies. However, what we don’t see is the subtle eye rolls of the adults who have seen this before and know it doesn’t end well. Our favorite uncle is also our “crazy uncle” and the adults have to put things back together when he implodes.
The “crazy uncle” is a common theme among African Americans. It’s a blanket moniker used to describe a multitude of bizarre behaviors exhibited by a family member. Consistent in this themology are the family’s decision to take over care, and little-to-no medical intervention. The family coordinates their efforts to keep his behavior under control, keep him out of jail, and off substances. This collaboration can be due to a mix of reasons including:
- Lack of comprehensive insurance coverage
- Mistrust of medical professionals and care
- Lack of understanding of mental illness course, care, and treatment
- Patient’s unwillingness to seek and engage with care
- Stigma associated with mental illness in the Black community
Rhetorical question time. “Is the above the best way to handle Kanye or our ‘crazy uncles’?” Is the stress and strain imposed by their outbursts worth the beauty of their creativity? Has our silent suffering enabled them to push the boundaries of their maniacal manifestations? The short and obvious answers are