Rapper, Kevin Gates is never too far away from controversy. He continued his foot-in-mouth routine in a recent interview with 106KMEL radio station, when asked about his views on Stacey Dash’s idea of eradicating BET, and identifying as an American rather than African-American.
Gates said that he agreed with Dash’s comments, and also shared his stance on the Black Lives Matter movement. He began by saying that all lives matter and that “picking up a sign wouldn’t change anything.” He cited that his past personal experiences of being assaulted by police officers were a direct response to him being “belligerent” and acting like an “ignorant n*gger.” He continued in saying that his tattoos and outward appearance fit the description of what society deems as a threat but, when he approaches officers in a respectable manner, he does not face brutality or disrespect at the hands of law enforcement.
Gates’ problematic perspective suggests that he’s not well-versed in what the Black Lives Matter movement stands for, and why respectability has no place in it. What’s most telling about this entire exchange is that even when the interviewer, Shay Diddy, attempts to challenge his views with facts — that black people who were abiding by Gates respectability philosophy have still suffered injustice at the hands of law enforcement — he deflects and says that people in the BLM movement probably haven’t even faced the same harsh treatment that he has.
For someone who likes to brag about how he is such a fan of reality, and despises being contrived in the media, it’s clear that Gates has a very warped perception of the BLM movement. Not only does the movement stand for the eradication of police violence and brutality against black lives, it also calls for an end to the racial inequality and racial profiling that he admitted to being a victim of. Respectability isn’t up for debate when black men, women, and children have been murdered and assaulted in their own homes, at pool parties, and for even cooperating with the police in a manner deemed respectable by Gates’ standards. Respectability is not a solution, it is in fact a symptom of the entire problem. Believing that in order to be respected by the police, one must adhere to the unwritten rules of what it means to be a good citizen, only plays into the fact that black skin isn’t viewed as good in the first place and continues the cycle of blackness being synonymous with negative stereotypes. What Gates also fails to realize is that some of those Black Lives Matter protesters he claims are only holding up signs are actually at the forefront of addressing the systemic end to eradicating police prejudice and subsequent violence against black lives, from the grass roots to the federal levels and they stare violence in the face when they do it.
One thing that Gates did make very clear is that perception is daunting and can alter the ways in which one views the world and in which the world views you. This reaffirms the necessity of the BLM movement because as long as the black aesthetic is deemed as cause for concern, or a threat, black folks will be fighting for the justice to end that system of prejudice and oppression. It would be for the best if Gates took a deeper look at why his appearance is such a deciding factor for police harrassment before he opens his mouth to spew any more saving graces rooted in elitist ideals designed to oppress black folks. While he’s doing that research he could also look up why such an idea is nowhere near an answer to healing the deeply wounded relationship between black people and the justice system of the United States. His anomalous experiences do not speak for the lives ended unjustly, and if he thinks that he is forever exempt from unfair treatment of the police because he doesn’t sag his pants or raise his voice, it’s clear that he has a lot to learn.