On some days, like today, I feel a little piece of it crack and break with the sadness of events that go on around the world. Seeing the recent Kanye West video of his concert Qantas Credit Union Arena in Sydney on Friday (Sept. 12) was one of those events.
Although I can see now it's been a big news maker on many television fronts, it came to my attention through Facebook, on a link another mother shared and the accompanying Bill Board article about the event. (Click here to read the full article). It began when West called out two people in an audience of thousands for not standing when he asked the entire crowd to stand up before performing a song. One person was in a wheelchair, the other had a prosthetic that wouldn't allow them to stand. It turned into a full four minutes of singling out two individuals that ended up being the focus of all others in attendance, while the show was held up. The booing and the chanting "stand up, stand up" continued until West's security determined the wheelchair was in fact real, and finally the show resumed.
So many of us have such a small circle of influence, where we can change a few hearts, minds, and beliefs through our words and actions. We're always hoping to plant just a couple of small seeds that will move the world towards a more inclusive and accepting place for all people and would love to have the kind of reach and impact that Kanye has. With West's ability to reach so many people, used in a positive way this could have been such a wonderful teaching moment for those thousands of fans who live life with able bodies. Instead it turned into a mockery. What a sad message to send and what a missed opportunity to move our world forward.
My biggest heartache is for those two individuals. To have been singled out that way, and made to feel so different and isolated in a world where decades have been dedicated to bring people with all kinds of abilities into typical community places and events. It must have been horrible for them, and sad for the movement towards inclusion and participation.
I've explored deeper to see where things went from there. I do see that almost 5 million people saw the video of the incident that was only published 3 days ago, and it has hit some of the big news. In one video Kanye seems more intent on making sure that the morning news shows don't 'demonize' him, without ever saying that he might have done things differently in retrospect. In another he says there was 'no malicious' intent. Another actually referred to a concert in Austin earlier in the summer when he assisted a young person in a wheelchair to get a better place to sit so he could actually see the concert.
I don't know him, and won't profess to guess where it all stemmed from. Maya Angelou said "we do what we do, when we know better we do better. " Whatever happened, lets hope there's a turnaround lesson learned for the next time, for the artist and his fans. Lets hope some of those 5 million viewers were advocates or self-advocates who are bothered enough by it that they are inspired to continue to educate those in their circle of influence. Circles ripple and seeds grow, so maybe this will be a trigger to so that change can continue to happen and others continue to grow forward by speaking up.
Maybe the bigger question, how can we help people of influence to know better, to understand the journey more deeply and to use those teachable moments to celebrate and include difference.
Till next time