I was scrolling through my social media feeds Saturday afternoon, when I tripped over the headline: "Kanye West Yells at Wheelchair-Bound Concertgoer to Stand." My issues with use of "wheelchair-bound" notwithstanding (seriously?), I continued reading. We all know that Mr. West makes his money off portraying himself as an egotistical, narcissistic douche-nozzle -- that's his schtick. I get it.
He asked all his fans to stand so he could perform his next hit. When he realized that two fans were Persons with Disabilities (one even going so far as to wave their prosthetic leg as proof -- hilarious), he halted the concert so that his security could confirm this, saying that the only way you were exempt from his command was if you "got and handicapped pass and free parking." This is where things get problematic for me.
As someone who lives with a pretty noticeable disability, and am wheelchair-bound (to use the words of the article. Sounds pretty ridiculous, right?), this incident really struck a chord with me. In the work that I do as a Disability Awareness Consultant, I operate with the knowledge that many people need the tools to understand disability, and that is okay. This incident is proof that Mr. West needs a lot of guidance in this area, and MANY, MANY tools. Or, just that he is a tool.
The bigger issue in context for me is not that Mr. West halted the concert until this person -- just out to have a good time, mind you -- stood up, but that his security guard had to check the veracity of this. It suggests that if you cannot stand up, you are not welcome here. Can you imagine the emotional impact this may have had on that person? To have to prove that you are disabled is one thing, but when you have a multi-million dollar artist and thousands of concertgoers waiting for this proof, that is a whole other level of humiliation and shame. Also, I didn't realize it was a crime to "concert while crippled," if you will.
The biggest mistake I think is that Kanye didn't even see it as a mistake. What would have happened if a security guard needed to verify this person's race, and the concert was stopped until there was a consensus of this person's blackness? Would it have been acceptable then? What authority does Kanye have to subject someone to that?
This is one of the times where I am glad that I cannot stand up on my own, because I would never use what little leg strength I do have in support of such a misguided individual. All I can say to you, Mr. Ye: "I am so appalled. You are f***ing ridiculous."