Kanye West, racial bias and the American psyche

Kanye West's behavior during a recent meeting with President Donald Trump evoked a range of public opinions.

Professor Wallace Ford of Medgar Evers College called it a "sideshow" and that many Americans will interpret Kanye's behavior as the voice of the black community.

"The American psyche still, the black athletes and black entertainers, entertainment and athletics are still what defines us in many instances," Ford said.

And it goes even deeper, he said. Society, in general, views Kanye or any African American on the national stage, as representing all African Americans. The practice identifies blacks as monolithic, singular, no variety of thought or intelligence—which no other group in America experiences.

"It is part of the pathology of racism, pathology of oppression and this intoxication with dehumanizing mechanisms in this country," Pastor Michael Walrond, of First Corinthian Baptist Church in Harlem, told Fox 5.

Walrond called this the "Otherization"—viewing blacks as being "The Other" or "less than." It was how our ancestors justified slavery. And, he said, that thread still exists today.

"Black and brown bodies have always been a problem in our culture," Walrond said. "And dehumanizing black and brown bodies has always been second nature to this culture. It is part of the framing of this country."

The pastor said society makes an assumption that it knows who and how blacks are.

Ford said that the stereotypes and images from hundreds of years ago are somehow still stuck in the American psyche.

"Don't group us as one. We are individuals," Cori Murray, a culture writer for Essence magazine, said. "Just as our race comes in different hair textures, skin tones, guess what? We also have different viewpoints of how we live our lives, how we view the world. How we view being Americans."

She added that every other race has the freedom to that and so should hers. Historically, the black community needed leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X to be their voice, he said. But no more.

"We no longer need that one person to be a voice for us because we're empowered enough to have our own voices and we can speak up for our individual selves," Murray said.

Walrond echoed the sentiment that the black community is not monolithic.

"We have diverse opinions, ideologies, thoughts," he said. "Different levels of perceiving the world."

Ford said that many people have an unconscious bias.

"People of good will, once that bias is brought to their attention, try to do something constructive about it," the professor said.