Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Kanye, I knew you had it in you. Also more thoughts on diamonds.

I just read an article in the New Yorker which assuaged somewhat my disappointment in the "Diamonds" single:
"Apparently disturbed by reports of violence and exploitation in the African diamond trade, he made a video for the track that asked viewers not to buy “conflict diamonds.” Then, in June, West remixed the song, replacing the lyrics with verses that address the issue directly: “Over here, it's the drug trade. We die from drugs. / Over there, they die from what we buy from drugs. . . . I thought my Jesus piece was so harmless, / till I seen a picture of a shorty armless, and here's the conflict. / It's in the black person's soul, to rock that gold. / Spend your whole life tryin' to get that ice. / On a polo rugby you look so nice. / How could something so wrong make me feel so right?”
...West doesn't go into much detail about the gem business, but he is the only diamond-wearing rapper to acknowledge the cognitive dissonance of bling."

Interesting idea- applies to all of us, really. De Beers has made the diamond such the must-have on any girl's finger, such the sine qua non of all things wealthy and wedding and wanted, that even otherwise liberally-minded and socially conscious people blanche at the idea of refusing a diamond because its origins might be MUCH less than savory.

But people, people, PEOPLE- and this is all I'll say- if you know anything at all about conflict diamonds ("blood diamonds" is the more appropriate moniker because if you bought your diamond before about 2001, some Sierra Leonian or Liberian or Angolan or Congolese probably paid for it in blood), insist that any future diamond that adorns your finger be "conflict-free"- or just refuse to wear diamonds. This Amnesty International montage thing is a little outdated but it sums up the issue. Also read this. Now you know. Be a good consumer. Find out where your diamond comes from. Or don't buy them at all. Seriously.

Kanye is tackling this, I guess, albeit in a somewhat inscrutable way. I'll watch the video and see what's up with that.


At 7:09 AM, Blogger Lizzie said...

Kudos to Kanye. I always marvel at the hypocrisy of celebrities. All those celebrities that pimped themselves and their big hearts and their deep concern for starving kids in Africa for the ultra-hip ONE campaign then show up at award shows proudly displaying the spoils of the diamond wars around their necks and wrists and on their ears and fingers. P. Diddy (or whatever he's calling himself these days) alone probably funded a year of conflict. Somehow I doubt that any of them took the time to confirm that they were "conflict-free" diamonds. I wonder if any of them will be shamed into giving up their beloved bling? Probably not.

At 8:21 AM, Blogger St. Dickeybird said...

It's a topic we often forget about, but definately something worth supporting.

At 10:00 AM, Blogger Noisette said...

I think he's just going by "Diddy." The P separated him from his fans, apparently.

At 10:36 AM, Blogger Lizzie said...

Yeah, I feel closer to him now that the P is gone. It really created a wall between the 2 of us.

At 1:01 PM, Blogger Bourgeois Wife said...

Oh God. Are vintage diamonds allowed? Not that I'm buying so many of them, but my engagement ring is 1930s.
It's so hard to be an ethical consumer. I can never remember which fish it's OK to eat.

At 1:12 PM, Blogger Noisette said...

Yes, vintage diamonds are fine. The conflicts in question had their heyday in the 1990's, although rebels in Congo, Angola and Liberia are still selling diamonds for arms, and they are still obtaining those diamonds through fear, violence and intimidation. De Beers is still buying up those illicit diamonds from the rebels, because it needs to keep a stranglehold on the diamond market. Efforts of international organizations, national governments and ngo's have done a lot to raise awareness and to encourage purchase of "non-conflict" diamonds from mines in Canada and Russia that aren't controlled by De Beers, but the vast majority of diamonds you find in your local jewellery store passed through the De Beers machine, and might well be conflict, or at any rate the purchase of them gives De Beers the means to keep buying conflict diamonds.
The difference between eating bad fish and buying conflict diamonds is that you NEED to eat, maybe not that particular fish but you get my point- whereas diamonds are a purely luxury item. No one needs them. And yet so many people insist on having them, even if they know they're probably tainted.

At 6:13 AM, Blogger Scotgirl said...

I have to admit that this is something I have not thought/known about before. Thanks for pointing me in the right direction and apologies for misunderstanding/ lack of sensitivity on my part


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