Kanye West is a brilliant musician.
I start with that reminder because he’s also a jackass.
The same iconoclastic impulses that make him so fascinating to listen to on the mic make him almost impossible to take seriously anywhere else.
About a week ago, he took to Twitter to say the most controversial thing he could think of – that he still likes Donald Trump:
“You don’t have to agree with trump but the mob can’t make me not love him. We are both dragon energy. He is my brother. I love everyone. I don’t agree with everything anyone does. That’s what makes us individuals. And we have the right to independent thought.”
Say what you will, he got the mileage he wanted out of it. People’s heads exploded all over the place.
How can a black man (other than Ben Carson) support perhaps the most racist Chief Executive in the history of this country?
Trump was endorsed by David Duke (a former KKK Grand Dragon), his supporters include white nationalists (Read: Nazis) whom he refuses to criticize, he was a notorious birther refusing to accept any of the overwhelming evidence that Barack Obama was a U.S. citizen, and his real estate company avoided renting to African Americans and gave preferential treatment to white people. And that’s only the most cursory list! I could go on and on and on!
But Kanye loves him. Okay. How do you feel about James Earl Ray? When he shot and killed the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., did he, too, have Dragon Energy?
Perhaps Duke does – literally. Yet Yeezy ain’t tweeting him any support!
However, Kanye wasn’t done. Today on TMZ, he doubled down on his contrarianism:
“When you hear about slavery for 400 years … For 400 years? That sounds like a choice.“
“You were there for 400 years and it’s all of y’all. It’s like we’re mentally imprisoned.“
Yes, slavery works by imprisoning minds as well as bodies. The same with our contemporary racial and economic cast system.
But to call slavery a choice – while true in a sense – minimizes how constrained that choice was.
Before the Emancipation Proclamation, most slaves had a choice between life in bondage or torture and death. They could try to run, try to organize and revolt or just try to survive.
What kind of choice is that?
Run and you might get caught – risk the little you have and risk the safety of anyone you care about for a dim chance at freedom.
And that was if there was anywhere to go. Without connections on the Underground Railroad or other sympathetic forces, the very idea of trying to free one’s self must have seemed next to impossible.
Sure, you could try to organize and overthrow your taskmasters – but that’s generally not how human psychology works. You convince yourself that going along is better, that if you just listen to authority, you’ll survive. It’s the same thought 6 million Jewish people had as they were being marched to the gas chambers.
I guess that’s your point. Human psychology is wrong. It’s better to fight than go along.
Then how do you explain your support for Trump?
You’re exercising your right to free thought by voicing an unpopular opinion – BECAUSE IT’S UNPOPULAR. But that’s not freedom – that’s merely thesis and antithesis. Everyone says THIS, so I say THAT.
I imagine plenty house slaves did the same thing back on the plantation. “The Master is kind and caring and he looks out for me.”
That’s really what you’re saying when you praise Trump.
One of the criticisms often leveled at rap music is how much it idolizes wealth and conspicuous consumption.
“ …And this rich n– racism
That’s that “Come in, please buy more
What you want, a Bentley? Fur coat? A diamond chain?
All you blacks want all the same things”
Used to only be n–s now everybody playing
Spending everything on Alexander Wang…”
That was you, Kanye, on “New Slaves” back in 2013.
The Yeezus who spouted those rhymes was criticizing exactly the kind of BS you’re spewing today.
Yeah, Trump is a symbol of having made it in America. But if he’s who you emulate, you’ve betrayed everything you used to stand for.
Fight the power – don’t befriend it!
Overthrow our classist, racist society – don’t defend it!
But who am I to criticize you? You’re a black man and I’m just a white observer. If you want to throw shade on your own people, go for it. If you want to trade in rebellion for a MAGA hat, you do it. That’s your right. Just don’t be surprised if no one thanks you for it.