By: Ruth Woldemedhine’21
Kanye has always been an iconoclast, but it has still been jarring to see the man who once said that “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” after the disastrous response to Hurricane Katrina shower love on a president who called African nations “shitholes.”
His support caused an uproar on social media, with many people offended by his comments. Those who supported with Trump responded with the fact that it is his right to support President Trump. His right to support President Trump is as much of a right as our right to criticize his support for Trump.
I am aware of the harsh tone this will come as, but is it not true that a man who has attacked so many marginalized communities, including latinos, females, black-Americans, Islam and much more will be criticized. So when Trump supporters claim that people are unfair for unfollowing Kanye, they are going against what they just previously stated. Because if we have the right to free speech, then we have every right to unfollow a man who supports President Trump.
This is because for many of those who don’t support President Trump, it’s not because he’s a Republican. No, it’s deeper than that. It lies in a belief that someone who claims Former President Barack Obama was not born in America, Senator John McCain(R) isn’t a war hero, has bragged about sexual assault, degraded women by their looks, and much more is not fit to be President on the some of the most core and foundational beliefs that humans hold.
When he tweeted out his support of President Trump, I’m disappointed but more than that, I’m angry. I’m angry because when he tweeted his support of President Trump, his tweet suggested that black people are monolith. He is a perfect example of the fact that we aren’t.
Kanye made it sound like anyone who didn’t support President Trump was following the mainstream media and he was ahead of his time. Kanye made it sound like we have no free thought and everyone just goes with the flow. As though our beliefs were somehow us being in a ‘prison’ and not an opinion someone can hold. He made it sound as though our opinions weren’t based off of our own knowledge and held our understanding of politics to a minimum.
Kanye West has also recently spoken out about his use of free thought, yet he seems to have a lack of understanding on what that is. If he did know what it meant he would know that the ideas of free thought is for everyone and would be able to understand the criticism that he faces is apart of his free thought.
On May 1st, Kanye dropped his nearly two hour Charlemagne interview. In reference to Martin Luther King Jr., and Malcolm X, he says: “Man, I know this is going to cause an uproar, but certain icons are just too far in the past and not relatable and that’s what makes them safe.” On his trademark Kanye Rants, he described the as coming from a place of bravery.
Later that day, he stopped by TMZ to share his thoughts on politics and freedom. In the TMZ interview, Kanye made a false statement on slavery in which he said “When you hear about slavery for 400 years. For 400 years?! That sounds like a choice.”
Notice my use of false, because that’s what this was. It wasn’t an opinion, it was a false statement. Isabella Rosabal described it as, “His view on this is uneducated.” I would likely to politely disagree because there is a common consensus and knowledge on slavery in America. This wasn’t a mistake, or a PR stunt as some have suggested. It’s more than that.
Akon Edwang described a feeling of disappointment because, “If it was ‘misinterpreted’ in some type of away, maybe he shouldn’t have said slavery was a choice or at least chose better wording or not have said it at all.”
Black and brown people who were enslaved had absolutely no choice and weren’t just ‘mentally’ enslaved. This is because there is reality and then there is fabrication. Noemie Vitou described her feeling to his comments as, “To say that when my ancestors experience was a choice directly offensively because what they went through was real, they experienced real.” I was unable to comprehend how something so disgraceful could come out of someone’s mouth, especially since he is also a black- American.
Kanye’s comment fail to realize that slavery has resulted in mistreatment through our lives and a marginalization of our community. His comments brought this feeling of anger to many people because it feels like we’re already taking a step back from what I believe America has the potential to be.
His comment on slavery reduces slavery into some choice that people willingly made and shows that he is unable to realize the sacrifices our ancestors made in order for people like him to be famous. He is undermining slavery and therefore any history that is attached to that, including the Civil War.
The comment allows people in white supremacy groups, the alt-right and more to believe that their sentiment is correct and will use his comments to justify their hate. To say that slavery was a choice brings upon a sense of betrayal because it shows us the twisted mentality that people hold in America over a broad subject of issues.
Brianna Gibson recognized that his comments, “Speak to the privilege some celebrities have.” She feels as though he is failing to realize, “How hard his ancestors had to fight to abolish slavery.”
Although Kanye has come out to explain his comments many people, including myself, are still offended by his comments and hope to see a sincere apology because what he said was not free thought but a false accusation towards those who had experienced slavery.