Lost in the World: Why Yeezy's Support For Trump Does All Harm And No Good
Kanye West's misguided approach to equality may not end bigotry, but only fuel it.
The glimpses of fandom I ever felt in regards to Kanye West came with the bold and brash assertive moments of him being a spokesperson for the black underdogs. To call myself a fan would be to undermine the true feelings of confusion and doubt from those who have followed him from day one. I'm just someone who appreciated the candor of a black man with a growing platform and potential to really help change the narrative of the grossly misrepresented black community.
Kanye's music is undeniably great, and the genius behind the music is arguably unrivaled. For reasons such as this it makes no sense that his recent return to social media has everyone, fans and non-fans alike, wondering what's happening with one of the music industry's most outspoken figures.
West has pretty much always been thorough–some can even say radical–in his lyrics. The messages in his lyrics of systemic racism, classism, privilege and other societal setbacks always resonated with those who lived the realities he rapped about. He's been conscious and self-aware for quite some time, and no one can take that from him.
However, Kanye's growth and development as a person seems to follow a pattern that doesn't sit well with those who have supported him and have done so even through a series of questionable choices he's made publicly over the course of his career. Most recently, what started off as a return to Twitter to promote his fashion line and upcoming music projects turned out to be a springboard for Kanye's tone-deaf, "genuine" support for public figures who (how can I put this eloquently?) stand on the wrong side of change.
That includes conservative pundit, Candace Owens and, of course, (not my) President Trump.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 25, 2018
Thank you Kanye, very cool! https://t.co/vRIC87M21X
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 25, 2018
What's alarming is Kanye West, who once spoke out against former president George W. Bush and accused him for not liking black people, stands proudly on the shoulders of Trump, a man who has displayed many times over words and acts of racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, transphobia, and the list goes on.
Then, there's this:
Love this!!! 2 years ago who would have thought Kanye and Kim would be public enemy number one of Hollywood/Media for saying it’s ok to think differently and to express yourself as you see fit. https://t.co/nMLccNvF96
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) April 25, 2018
Intellectual hostage taking no longer works. https://t.co/IxZqvTqEpA
— Dave Rubin (@RubinReport) April 26, 2018
There's no true problem with a difference of opinion, that much remains factual. There are, however, several problems with the way Donald Trump has been executing his authority as POTUS. Foreign tensions have been through the roof, excessive use of military force (see: the recent attack on Syria), the future of free trade remains uncertain, and a long list of other causes for concern–these are good places to start.
Some have spoken out in support of Kanye West and his right to "free thinking", like fellow Chicago-native Chance the Rapper.
Black people don’t have to be democrats.
— Chance The Rapper (@chancetherapper) April 25, 2018
Chance has since apologized for his timing, and while he does have a strong point in apologies holding more weight more in actions than in words, it does prove that the problem in Kanye's stance isn't about political positioning but about what enables the devaluing of black lives in this country.
What Kanye doesn't realize, or perhaps he does, is that taking a stand with Trump isn't pioneering the doctrine of free speech. The conservative party has always been outspoken, white nationalists have always openly expressed hatred for black people, and white supremacy has always run rampant in this nation. What Trump has provided since the announcement of his campaign to run was an engine for regression to rear its ugly head. Now Trump and his campaign are capitalizing off Kanye's tweets and using it to bolster support for him and his racist dog-whistle pitch to "Make America Great Again." They will likely use — and dispose — of Kanye and his commentary in ways that fits their motives best — and that can very quickly, and dangerously, lead to real consequences around the treatment of and outreach to black Americans.
While Kanye's mental health has crept into some of the main discussions his tweets have offset, it comes down to what an inflated ego can do for someone with a platform and influence like his. Over the last couple of days, we've watched the support in Yeezy's fanbase not only dwindle but shift. Black people are losing their freedom, their livelihoods and their happiness because of the administration that we're under and the ideologies they share.
It's tough to say in what direction this narrative will go. We're getting a close look at how one of this generations biggest stars, revered by colleagues, friends and millions of adoring fans for making them feel like they were heard, goes against the foundation he built his own career on. A lot of us still have faith that he can change, while the rest of us are done waiting around for it. Ultimately, I just hope Kanye somehow rebounds from all this. He really needs to.
Wake up, Mr. West.