When Being Intelligent, Respected and Loved is Not Enough: The Tragic Death of Donda West

First, I’d like to offer my condolences to Kanye West and his family. I know how difficult it is to have a parent die suddenly and unexpectedly. My father died several years ago of an aneurysm.

From all that I have read about the 58-year-old Dr. Donda West, who died this weekend of possible complications due to plastic surgery, she seems to have been an amazing woman. She was a Fulbright scholar, former chair of the English Department at Chicago State University and a beloved and respected colleague. I heard her name mentioned at an communication and education conference I attended earlier this year where she was heralded as one of the pioneers and stalwarts in the field.

And she was loved –truly, madly, deeply — by her only son, internationally renown, Grammy Award-winning rapper/producer, Kanye West.

But for some reason, that will remain unknown forever, this wasn’t enough.

Perhaps she felt the need to look “beautiful”. Beautiful like the girls in the music videos. Beautiful like the models on the runways during Fashion Week. Beautiful like the people who populate her son’s life.

What Dr. West didn’t realize was that she was already beautiful. Beautiful because she, as a single mom, raised a son she could be immensely proud of. Beautiful because she influenced the lives of so many of her students and colleagues. Beautiful because she was what my mother always wanted me to be: black and brilliant.

Ironically in death, Dr. West instructs as to what is important in life.


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