In a 2006 interview with Rolling Stone, Kanye West suggested that if he were “more complacent” his life would be “easier.” However, this sentiment was followed up by his claim that his audience “wouldn’t be as entertained.” There is no doubt that Kanye’s outspoken demeanor and unconventional opinions have kept Americans glued to his every word, but unfortunately, his methods for gaining attention both online and offline are not always sound.
When Kanye West took to Twitter on April 25th to share his “love” for the controversial 45th president, fans were taken aback but not stunned. Kanye has publicly declared his support for Trump in the past, going on a pro-Trump rant before abruptly ending his San Jose show on the Saint Pablo tour, and much to his fans’ disapproval, meeting with the president back in 2016. But proudly showing off his signed MAGA hat on Twitter and posting the absurd claim that him and the president share “dragon energy” are gestures that are inherently more harmful to minorities than any of his previous absurd actions.
President Trump has publicly accused Mexicans of being “rapists” while regarding white supremacists as “very fine people,” a juxtaposition that defines his entire presidency. While Kanye’s support of Trump in no way suggests that the rapper shares the same detrimental beliefs, his admiration of someone with such a harmful rhetoric sends a message to West’s audience: it is okay to support those who blatantly loathe minorities because that is just “their opinion.” This notion is not only a sorry explanation for openly endorsing those with racist or intolerant principles, but an explicit gateway for racists, xenophobes, and misogynists to find validation for their hate.
In order to communicate the inherent disbelief and betrayal many PoC, especially those in the Mexican and black communities, felt during the aftermath of Kanye’s tweets as well as his atrocious TMZ interview, I asked some powerful WoC named Chay, Mikayla, and Bee to share their thoughts on Kanye’s current persona. Chay explained, “[Kanye is] overly opinionated for his own sake along with layers of superiority which [don’t] excuse any of his fake-deep comments. There's a weight that carries on throughout the black community due to racism alone, hateful comments like racial slurs, it's so much that we don't deserve… and he just opened negativity and oppression through a lot more doors for people who are already against us.” Mikayla concurred, asserting that it is “hard seeing [Kanye] saying things as false as [the idea] that slavery is a choice, especially [coming from] someone you've looked up to for their expression of blackness and a prominent figure in hip-hop culture.” Lastly, Bee added that Kanye should be aware that "aligning himself with [Trump] is going to cause a schism in his fans.” Overall, the large majority of feedback from minorities is a narrative of clear disapproval, and rightfully so.
Kanye West is begging us to answer one burning question: do we disregard the years of blood, sweat, and tears an artist has put into their discography because suddenly their persona does not align with our moral bases? Yes and no. While you may respect and love Kanye for his talent as an artist, there is a great importance in calling him out on his destructive idea of what "free thought" is. As a nation that rapidly consumes pop culture, we are faced with the duty of ensuring those who are influential celebrities are not gaining their fame at the expense of others.
Kanye's assertion that his thoughts are unique to him as an individual is simply not realistic. Those who also believe that supporting Trump is okay oftentimes hold beliefs directly correlated with ideas of racism, sexism, and classism. West's sentiment that his imaginary vote for Trump is harmless is the hazardous validation racists, xenophobes, and misogynists need in order to feel correct in their intolerant “opinions.”
Image from Vice News.