Watch Yasiin Bey x Robert Glasper Perform De La Soul's "Stakes Is High" Live In Paris + Exclusive Photos & Recap [photographed by Mr. Mass for Okayplayer]
Yasiin Bey x Robert Glasper Perform Live In Paris [photographed by Mr. Mass for Okayplayer]

Okayafrica Speaks: Yasiin Bey Is The Hero We Need Right Now [Op-Ed]

Watch Yasiin Bey x Robert Glasper Perform De La Soul's "Stakes Is High" Live In Paris + Exclusive Photos & Recap [photographed by Mr. Mass for Okayplayer]

Yasiin Bey photographed in Paris by Mr. Mass for Okayplayer

As the fall-out continues to unfold from Yasiin Bey's arrest and detainment in South Africa for attempting to travel to Ethiopia under the auspices of his recently-issued World Passport, the conversation about what it all means has devolved pretty quickly towards the trivialized, as regular folks and music fans attempt to parse the lengthy official statement from the South African government as well as a cogent clarification of the artists true intent in adopting the World Passport (which draws it's authority from the internationally-recognized, UN-drafted Universal Declaration Of Human Rights) published by Ferrari Shepard on ACountryCalledEarth website. Into this environment of confusion, Okayafrica has stepped forward with a powerful op-ed spelling out in no uncertain terms both the global context and the greater moral and political issues at stake in Yasiin's struggle for self-determination. Read an excerpt of Okayafrica Managing Editor Aaron Leaf's inspiring piece below, and then click through to read the full essay on OKA.

Many of us play along with the full-body scan, the pat down and the passport scan because we can’t imagine it any other way. Yasiin Bey is a prodigious musician and an actor but he is also an artist in the purest sense, looking for truth while exploring boundaries both moral and physical. The 2013 video of Bey undergoing a force feedinglike those detainees in Guantanamo Bay is a visceral look at the darker corners of American policy and is consequently a powerful work of political art. It’s also, for this writer at least, incredibly hard to watch.

As an artist, Bey is not bound by the conventional. Right now the global media is trying to portray him, at best, as naive and, at worst, a criminal passing off fraudulent documents, but perhaps he is actually a hero—a quixotic hero to be sure—but a hero nonetheless. By renouncing his American passport, as South African media has stated, and opening himself up to prosecution under this broken system, he is giving us a look behind the facade and expanding the idea of what’s possible in the process.


If Bey has indeed given up his American passport, then he has given up his formal connection to the rich world and sided with those on the bottom. He’s given up his paper allegiance to a nation state, The United States, that positions itself as the enforcer of this global hierarchy. By using the World Passport he has thrown his lot in with the idealists who believe a new system is possible. A system free from the hypocrisy of what exists now and toward something that acknowledges the humanity of everyone no matter where they were born.

>>Read More (via Okayafrica)

Serious food for serious thought. And best believe as we digest these events and issues, Okayplayer will have more to say on the matter!