Why it’s important to have a public discussion about Kanye West’s erratic behavior

usa election kanye west
Credit: Reuters

In 2018, [Kanye] West revealed he has a mental illness. Some mental health advocates are now pushing for the media to reexamine how it covers West’s actions like his comments about slavery, President Trump and his running for office.

One of those advocates is Bassey Ikpi, author of “I’m Telling the Truth, But I’m Lying.” She says her own experience of being hospitalized because of bipolar disorder has impacted her view of West.

For Ikpi, it’s difficult to watch the rapper make headlines for causing an uproar. Every time this happens, she almost immediately recognizes his behavior as a manic episode in the same way a diabetic person can identify diabetic shock in someone else.

This makes her feel compassion toward West. But when people talk about his actions, she says it’s upsetting to see that people “only care about mental health when we like the person who’s experiencing it.”

Related article:  Infographic: Examining shared genetics of different psychiatric disorders
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Honest conversations about mental illness and its impact on the Black people, who are “pathologized and criminalized in ways that other people are not,” require context, she says. Neglecting to look at the complete picture isn’t fair to West — nor to anyone else.

“He’s the most visible person with a bipolar diagnosis in the world right now,” she says. “So he represents more than just someone that people are projecting onto. He represents all of us.”

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