Whether or not you watched the VMAs, as long as you are connected to social media in one way or the other, you likely have heard about the Vanguard award acceptance speech by the famous, or should I say infamous, Kanye West. Like most things done by this audacious man, his declaration to run for the office of the American President in 2020 created such a buzz that even t-shirts are being made out of it. Personally, I thought it, a humorous end to his speech and whether or not he really means to run, we would just have to wait to find out. I must confess, I didn’t watch the VMAs but like most people I have been drawn to this trendy topic (It’s the miracle power of social media).
Because I understand the media’s ability to sometimes take things out of its original context and create a meaning that helps it make headlines, I decided to read the full transcript of this trendy speech for myself and my oh my! it is exceptional (No kidding). It leaves you with something to think about, that is, if you look beyond the occasional ramble and bad grammar (I have never understood why some black Americans choose to mess up their grammar; is it a quest to sound ‘more black’? I find it especially annoying when it is obvious that the person can speak with the correct grammar in the first place).
Nevertheless, there was more than one truth to be drawn for Kanye’s speech. He talks about how in his wanting to elevate and protect one artist, he insults another. I thought it intelligent the way he links this up with the contradiction between intention and actions. This is something I am sure everyone, even the holiest of us, can identify with at one point or the other. It is the very nature of being human and sometimes, we have to look beyond the action to the intention in other to create room in our hearts to forgive those who hurt us. Kanye also highlights the ruthlessness of the media. There is no question that the media, especially social media is a great blessing. It has given the world a louder voice and puts the general public right in the middle of things. However, media houses are also in a money-making business, so at the end of the day, it is really about what version of the story provides the highest ratings and makes more money. If the world can remember that, we would view headlines and stories a little more critically.
‘I don’t understand how they get five people who worked their entire life … sold records, sold concert tickets to come stand on the carpet and for the first time in they life be judged on the chopping block and have the opportunity to be considered a loser! I don’t understand it, bruh!’
– VMA acceptance speech by Kanye West
The excerpt above is my favourite part of the entire speech. My interpretation of this basically centres on competition. How too often our achievements, and even worth, is measured in comparison with others. I appreciate that competition helps drive us, but it is also important, not to allow it take away from the work we have done. It shouldn’t be allowed to reduce our self-esteem or the importance of our own accomplishments. It is always great to know that you are recognised for doing or creating something beautiful but just because you don’t get the loudest ovation doesn’t mean your work has less value. Like Kanye, I believe our life’s work should be measured by the impact it makes and how much of ourselves we put in. At the end of the day, this should be the lesson we pass on to our kids; your biggest competition is you…
I can’t put all of the essence of Kanye’s speech into words otherwise I may just go on forever. It was without doubt a beautiful speech full of deep truths and meaning.