Professor wants to launch class on Kanye West for sociology lessons
Despite criticism from social media, McCune is pushing to start his third class on Kanye West's controversial impact on both Black culture and social issues.
Associate professor of African and African American studies at the University of Rochester, Jeffrey McCune Jr., is pushing to introduce his third class on rapper Kanye West's artistry, impact and political views to deliver complex topics to college students.
After teaching his first two Kanye-West-inspired courses - The Politics of Kanye West: Black Genius and Sonic Aesthetics - at Washington University in St. Louis in 2017, delving into themes from Black culture to mental health, McCune said the third course aims to tackle the rapper’s recent anti-Black rhetoric.
“As a cultural critic, as a public intellectual, as a steward of my community, I have to believe that it’s important for me as a professor to counter the messages that Kanye is now advancing, using Christianity as the bedrock for it,” McCune said, adding: “As an educator, as an intellectual, as a scholar, it will be irresponsible for me to just do away with him, knowing the kinds of impacts and effects his work and his weight could have.”
His class will comprise three sections: “the old Kanye, the new Kanye, and the who Kanye,” by analyzing Ye’s recent behavior, without excluding the rapper's past or present controversies, such as donning a “White Lives Matter” shirt during Paris Fashion Week, making antisemitic statements on social media, and saying that George Floyd died of fentanyl use rather than the use of police burtality by a Minnesota police officer.
Kanye told "Drink Champs" podcast hosts N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN that Floyd died as a result of fentanyl consumption rather than officer Chauvin’s knee on his neck: “They hit (Floyd) with the fentanyl. If you look, the guy’s knee wasn’t even on his neck like that,” Ye said. “They said he screamed for his mama; mama was his girlfriend. It’s in the documentary.”
The documentary, “The Greatest Lie Ever Sold: George Floyd and the Rise of BLM" written by and starring conservative political commentator Candace Owens, contradicts Hennepin County medical examiner's office ruling that his death was a homicide caused by "cardiopulmonary arrest" by "restraint and neck compression" while being subdued by police.
Class is not really about Kanye
McCune actually regards Kanye's unstable behavior as a key point in explaining how white evangelical Christianity affects Black culture and how it can breed anti-Blackness, as he cited the rapper's evolution in music, he said: “Even though Kanye may not be conscious of how he’s dancing between these two worlds, it is clear in his move to Christianity … that he’s choosing a very ugly strain of white evangelical Christianity that continuously believes that Christ is a policing white man, who does not in fact revere Blackness,”
“The course has never, ever been about Kanye,” McCune added. “He is the draw. But I, in this course, draw out the significance of Black celebrity to Black life, and for me, that continues with the person who is driving anti-Blackness into the public. I can’t ignore that.”
The course has drawn negative feedback from critics as McCune admitted to receiving hate and aggressive emails while users have been skeptical over social media of the purpose of needing such a course. McCune in turn responded that courses on celebrities like Kanye West, Nicki Minaj and Drake are crucial because they help make topics concerning history, political science, and sociology easier for students to relate to and enjoy learning about.
In an interview with NBC News, McCune told the news channel that to make the picture clearer to students, “we have to use things that the students are listening to and are digesting every day,” he , before adding that by teaching this course, he’s going against the narrative that only certain Black figures are worthy of academic courses.
“We can have a class about Dr. Martin Luther King, right, but we can’t have a class about Malcolm X?” McCune continued. “We can have a class about Jay Z, but we can’t have a class about Kanye West?”
Although the course does not have an official title like his previous two, the professor expressed that if the University of Rochester’s college curriculum committee approves it, he intends to launch it in the spring or fall semester of 2023.
“I think that the catalog of Kanye is still an interesting catalog,” McCune said. “It’s an archive, quite frankly, of my life and the lives of so many other young people who have been entangled in the world of Kanye.”