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May 17, 2018 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily

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9

Thursday, May 17, 2018
The Michigan Daily — michigandaily.com MICHIGAN IN COLOR

I miss the old Kanye

As my Black Twitter time-

line blew up with Bill Cosby

memes and “now this” videos

about yet another act of violence

against someone Black, my heart

dropped to see Kanye West. I

had recently seen a picture of

him wearing a MAGA hat posing

with two other politicians and I

feared for anything he might say

to make things worse. Neverthe-

less, I opened the video and tried

to brace myself for whatever he

might say. What followed were

feelings of shame and disap-

pointment. Kanye had done

the unthinkable, claiming that

slavery was a “choice” for 400

years. This was something that I

may have expected from Stacey

Dash but coming from the same

man who released “The Col-

lege Dropout” I was devastated.

It’s no secret that Kanye has

long been on the bad side of the

Black community, but this was

something that even the biggest

Kanye critic would have never

seen coming.

The video spread like wild-

fire, instantly creating a war on

two fronts. On one side there

were the people who felt deeply

offended and disappointed by

Kanye’s remarks. For them this

was the last straw, Kanye had

not just fallen from grace — he

crashed and burned. On the

other side were the “stans” who

tried to rationalize his remarks

and look for the deeper meaning

in his poorly worded statement.

Many made posts about how

they felt if there were so many

slaves they should have easily

overpowered their oppressors.

While this may seem like a legit-

imate argument at first glance, it

is very easy to forget the physi-

cal, mental and financial distress

the people were under. Stripped

of all resources, only given what

was provided by a tyrant who

was considered your owner.

Over 150 years later, it is easy to

look at sheer numbers and say

what “should’ve” been done, not

to mention how easy it is to over-

look the numerous revolts and

uprisings that did occur during

this time. We will never be able

to put ourselves in the shoes of

our ancestors and for that rea-

son alone it is not and will never

be our place to speak on what

should have and could have been

done. As my mind filled with

thoughts and emotions concern-

ing the remarks and how we got

here, what came to the forefront

of my mind were not the words

of Kanye, but those of my broth-

er many years prior.

“When he lost the bear, he lost

me.” These were my brother’s

final words on his relationship

with Kanye West. Following

the release of the 2007 album

“Graduation” (the final piece

of the college-themed trilogy

that also featured “The College

Dropout” in 2004 and “Late

Registration” in 2005), Kanye

no longer incorporated the griz-

zly who came to be known as

“Dropout Bear” in his music vid-

eos and cover art. After losing

Dropout Bear, Kanye released

“808s and Heartbreaks” in 2008

which proved to show a more

emotional side of Kanye and

then “My Beautiful Dark Twist-

ed Fantasy” in 2010, the album

that many consider the best of

Kanye’s career. From there he

released popular albums like

“Watch the Throne” made with

Jay-Z in 2011; however, Kanye

would also release more contro-

versial albums such as “Yeezus”

in 2013 (believed to be his worst

album by many fans) and “The

Life of Pablo” in 2016. No mat-

ter the project, for me and many

other fans of early Kanye, no

sound would be as honest and

true as those during his tenure

with Dropout Bear.

However, through his good

and bad, nothing could seem

to deter Kanye West fans. We

were in a musical marriage of

sorts, standing by Kanye for bet-

ter or for worse. We struggled

with Kanye, continued to make

excuses for whatever misun-

derstood actions he made and

overanalyzed every lyric to cre-

ate even more reason to believe

in his musical genius. However,

over time, one by one, fans began

to lose hope that we would ever

get “the old Kanye” back. Many

left in silence, some openly

expressed
their
disappoint-

ment but no criticism would be

more shocking to me than that

of J. Cole. Releasing the song

“False Prophets” in 2016, he

spoke on his former apprecia-

tion of Kanye that bordered on

allegiance, only to now be lim-

ited to reminiscing about the

times when he could appreciate

Kanye’s music. Now two years

later J. Cole’s words seem to

have aged like fine wine, a rather

apt coincidence considering my

sudden need for a drink after

hearing Kanye’s remarks.

In the end, it had a good run.

My relationship with Kanye was

once that of an adult and baby.

The adult is amazed by anything

the baby does no matter how big

or small and is seldom upset —

if so, the anger lasts no longer

than a few minutes. Kanye was

the musical genius that could

do no wrong, a beacon of hope

for hip-hop and a role model

for the next generation of eager

MCs. Almost any aspiring MC,

including myself, had studied

“Graduation” and could likely

rap a verse in every song. Now,

my relationship with Kanye

has turned into a cycle of disap-

pointment and forgiveness with

the hope of a return to grace.

Similar to the way you watch

“Saturday Night Live” knowing

that it will never be as funny as

it was when they had Will Fer-

rell and Jimmy Fallon.

May. Not only is it the
time
for
Asian
Pacific
American Heritage Month
(APAHM), but the first Mon-
day of this month signifies,
essentially, the fashion Super
Bowl formally known as the
Met Gala. And per usual, in
addition to other self-pro-
claimed fashion aficionados,
I sat with both my cellphone
in hand and Macbook on lap
perusing Twitter timelines,
the Vogue magazine website
and Getty images— review-
ing each celebrity outfit as if
we are in the New York City
front lines as esteemed crit-
ics and not regular people on
comfy sofas.
(My personal favorites,
but definitely not all of the
highlights, included SZA,
Janelle Monáe, Solange, and
Zendaya. Rihanna is obvi-
ously one of the best dressed
as one of three co-chairs
of the Met Gala adorned in
custom John Galliano with
Christian Louboutin heels.
Shoutout to Chadwick Bose-
man for doing THAT for
menswear.)
This year’s theme for
the Met Gala was “Heav-
enly Bodies: Fashion and the

Catholic Imagination”. This
theme really spoke to me.
It brings attention to some-
thing quite prevalent to my
Filipino American upbring-
ing — religion and specifi-
cally Catholicism.
I grew up Catholic like
many other Filipinx Ameri-
cans, which makes sense
because the Philippines is
super Catholic — 85 percent
of the Philippines is Chris-
tian. I thought nothing of
how my Filipino roots were
related to Catholicism before
coming to college. These
important aspects of my life
seemed rather separate. But
after learning about Phil-
ippine history and culture
in college, I realized they
were not mutually exclu-
sive. Though there is a lot to
say about Christianity in the
Philippines, and while I am
definitely not an expert in
the matter, what I will say is
that Catholicism was used
by the Spanish as a tool with
the ill intention of colonizing
the Philippines. In succeed-
ing, interestingly enough,
Catholicism as a whole? was
transformed in the Phil-
ippines.
Filipinx
claimed
Catholicism in many ways;
pre-colonial practices were
mixed with the religion to

form Folk Catholicism. In
times of hardship, like the
People Powers Revolution
to overthrow former dicta-
tor Ferdinand Marcos, many
activists used the figure of
Mother Mary to empower
themselves.

I think because of such
rich context, I have a spe-
cial connection to this year’s
Met Gala theme. Where
many of the looks took to
European art as reference,
once I caught word of the
theme, my mind immedi-
ately shifted to the Catholic
imagery that situates itself in

many Filipinx and Filipinx
American
communities.
There is the Santo Niño—
an icon of baby Jesus who is
often depicted in a beautiful,
embellished cape. There is
also Maria Clara — a fictional
character of the famous Phil-

ippine hero, José Rizal. She
is the depiction of controver-
sial Filipina beauty based on
purity in parallel to the Vir-
gin Mary that inspired a new
sect of fashion. Moreover, I
am reminded of the subtle
moments from my life: See-
ing Santo Niño figures along
with Catholic symbols on

shelves in my own family’s
and my extended families’
houses, the different pamay-
pays or fans that many would
use in churches in the Philip-
pines to combat the intense
heat. Though fashion can
be thought of something
superficial, it can be a his-
torical, artistic vehicle for
social commentary. As I said
before, there are many com-
plex implications of Catholi-
cism as it exists in Philippine
culture that I can’t do justice
in this musing of the Met
Gala. There is a lot to say
about how the conversion
tactics of the Spanish speak
to a greater conversation sur-
rounding colonialism. Not
to mention that the effects
of colonial mentality con-
tinue to perpetuate harm-
ful beauty standards, such
as colorism and body image,
in Filipinx and Filipinx
American
communities.
On a slightly different note,
there is a lot to talk about in
terms of how some elements
of Philippine culture before
colonial rule have endured
time and transformed Cath-
olic practices to make them
unique to the Philippines
and its many regions. Aes-
thetics here can play more
sacred roles beyond appear-

ance. I myself frequently
think about how Christian-
ity has influenced the experi-
ences of Filipinx families in
the United States. But maybe
those are even more the rea-
sons why I am so fixated with
the Met Gala’s theme. I feel
like “Catholic Imagination”
fits perfectly in how Filipinx,
and Filipinx Americans by
consequence, have histori-
cally transformed practice
while keeping core beliefs
intact for the most part. It’s
always fun to chit-chat with
friends about which celeb-
rities we loved and which
celebrities we could not be
bothered with on that. That
said, this first Monday of
May had me thinking about
myself: the fashion lover, the
Filipino American, and my
roots. It would have been so
interesting to see more of
how Catholicism has meta-
phorized from cultures that
have experienced oppression
from conversion like with the
Philippines, perhaps even
from a Filipinx designer.
Now, who would I want to
style for the Met Gala? A cou-
ple of names come to mind.
Probably
eternal
Filipina
icon Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach,
the former Miss Universe.
Either her or Bretman Rock.

By CHRISTIAN PANEDA

MiC Senior Editor

By ANGELO MCKOY

MiC Editor

PHOTO COURTESY OF PDAVID PHOTOGRAPHY

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