Image courtesy of @kanyewest Twitter
Kanye West is antagonizing the Black Community and other People of Color to promote his upcoming album, Love Everyone. His latest tweets, praising Trump and his “Dragon energy,” are a transparent and desperate attempt to create an aura of controversy to prelude his album release. This is not the first time that West has used controversy to promote an album, and it will not be the last; unfortunately, it’s working. Upon his return to Twitter, Kanye West has instigated discussion amongst Twitter users resulting in over four million tweets, demonstrating how calculated his online tirade was. His controversial return to Twitter was predictable, but nonetheless outraging.
Kanye has gone on to tweet and make many outrageous and false claims to draw attention to himself. In an interview he claimed that “over 400 years of slavery was a choice,” misquoted Harriet Tubman via Twitter, claimed that slavery was a mentality, and used the myth of ‘Black on Black crime’ to discredit current social justice movements. His tirades created a viral hashtag, increased support for Trump within the Black Male community, and drew shallow support from conservative voices.
Kanye is disguising his ahistorical, uninformed praise of Trump and other conservative voices as ‘free thinking’, while others on the left would argue that he is doing quite the opposite. Kanye has described his ‘free thinking’ as being anti-status-quo and not following ‘the mob.’ However, with over 60 million people who voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 general election, it seems that West is merely jumping from one version of the status quo to another. He is not thinking on his own like he claims, rather he’s joining millions of other people who are in support of the bigoted, hateful ideology that Trump has brought to light.
The same conservatives who shamed Beyoncé, Colin Kaepernick, and other hypervisible Black voices are quick to uplift Kanye’s ignorant rants because his views align with theirs. They are using Kanye’s ahistorical and unenlightened tweets as a weapon against other Black voices. Their hypocrisy is evident as they weaponize Kanye’s identity to erase the work of other Black activists whose free thoughts are based on facts, history, and lived experiences. Conservatives are attempting to use Kanye’s views as the token Black view.
Recently, Kanye’s views were challenged on TMZ by Van Lathan who suggested that his words were evident of “absence of thought.” Lathan called West out for using his platform to make noise rather than speaking on issues that affect Black folks who don’t have the same privileges as him. Black Political voices are rarely listened to, and Kanye’s vain attempt to create controversy has overshadowed these voices. Although Trump’s ideology is violent and anti-Black, Kanye’s support of Trump is not all the Black community has to worry about. The incarceration rate of Black Trans Women or lack of access to healthcare within the community are examples of issues more pressing than Kanye’s support of Trump. While Kanye chooses to support vicious, racist rhetoric and the man behind that rhetoric, the choice is ours to not listen to his upcoming album. If Kanye can make ridiculous, uneducated claims against the Black community and then go on to successfully sell his album to the same group, then expect other artists to adopt the same marketing strategy.