Kanye West received the Visionary Award at the 2015 BET Honors, and his acceptance speech was a pretty inspirational take on how racism isn’t a black issue or a white issue, but a human one.
What started with an admittedly funny joke about his wife Kim Kardashian and her dating preference for black men turned into a pretty inspired speech on the state of race relations in America.
Kanye shared a story told to him by Kim about the importance of everyone, regardless of race, understanding what intolerance looks and feels like.
“She told me [about] where her father, Robert Kardashian, walked out and on the side of his Bentley, [protesters] wrote, ‘N***** Lover,’ because Robert Kardashian was the genius that put together the defense team that got O.J. [Simpson] off,” Kanye explained. “She had never saw her father curse, get mad; he was the most laid-back human being. And he went so crazy and tried to chase the people down. And she stood there crying and said, ‘Dad, why are you going so crazy?’ And he said to her, ‘One day, you may have a black child. A beautiful, beautiful, beautiful black child. And it’s going to be hard. You’re going to see how hard it is.'”
And so it came to be: the couple’s daughter North has already experienced racism at less than 2 years old, when a woman on a plane yelled to the other passengers that Kim needed to “shut that black baby up.”
Kanye went on to discuss how important it is to focus on humanity as a group and for black people to use their influence for the betterment of all.
“The ‘micro’ of it is we focus on the different races as opposed to the ‘macro,’ which is the human race,” he said. Using oil as a metaphor for wealth, he continued, “Our oil is our expression, is our influence. Don’t never let them take that away. And when we have the chance to express it and to influence, don’t only just do it for us, do it for the human race.”
Watch Kanye West’s BET Honors speech: