In February 2016, musical artist Kanye West tweeted out “BILL COSBY INNOCENT !!!!!!!!!!” but I’m sure this escaped your memory, didn’t it?
There is plenty to say about Kanye West, but there are plenty of memories that appear to be missing in the minds of our young social activists. After West showed his support for President Donald Trump and claimed slavery was a “choice,” many people rushed to defend the 21-time Grammy Award winner. The few memories that seem too conscious within the public mind are West is a “musical genius” who is suffering from “mental illness” and still “grieving the loss of his mother,” though one has to wonder if this a way for fans to validate his behavior. Even celebrities rushed to support West, like Chance the Rapper who tweeted, “Black people don’t have to be democrats.” It’s pretty clear though West’s actions continuously prove his incompetence, people will still defend him no matter what he does because they fell in love with the “old Kanye.”
Minority communities have worked to try and support West, and this makes sense because of his cultural significance. In 2004, West released the album “College Dropout”, which won a Grammy award for Best Rap Album. After his debut album, West collaborated with artists such as Jay-Z, Lupe Fiasco and John Legend resulting in multiple songs reaching No. 1 on iTunes. In addition, West’s fearless nature has never been hidden from the public. For example, after the Category 5 storm Hurricane Katrina demolished New Orleans in 2005, West did not back away from calling former President George W. Bush someone who “doesn’t care about Black people.” This was a time when the African-American community appreciated West’s vocalness on issues that affected their lives. Even West’s rap lyrics have always provided deep insight into different societal struggles while still maintaining a very high energy.
However, to support West because he is the victim of his circumstances would be nothing but a twisted fantasy. As West released his newest solo album “Ye” as well as a collaboration with musical artist Kid Cudi titled “Kids See Ghosts,” I was both shocked and disappointed to see how many of my friends have continued to support him. The issue with West is not that he is a Republican or even that he supports Trump, the problem is West continues to present himself as a minority who uses his own voice to abuse other minority populations. West’s tweet declaring Cosby’s innocence clearly shows his inability to see the sheer significance of sexual assault. His blatant disrespect for women portrayed in this tweet shows he has continued to go unscathed while equally working to silence voices. Meanwhile, his claim that slavery was a choice is so disrespectful to centuries of struggle; it doesn’t just negate the struggles of African-American slaves, but also the people from all around who were pillaged and colonized by communities in power.
And minorities all over the world gave him a No. 1 album.
Isn’t that just hypocritical? After Trump’s election, I saw a lot of tweets about how those who voted for him decided racism was not a final straw. Do we hold any standards for those we support with our money? In these moments, I’ve come to realize even those who have felt the quick prick of racist comments are all right with having blood flow if the beat is good enough or if the rap verse slams. Though West’s comments are bad, it is much more than that — this is the type of grotesque behavior that leaves a particularly nasty taste in your mouth, not because of the flavor but, rather, how long it lasts. West’s comments are the reason why people feel marginalized because people actually look up to him. If you see your coworker listening to Kanye West’s album or it happens to play on the radio, you are reminded some people in the world don’t acknowledge your struggles as valid. For me and for so many other people, hearing the comments made by those people is a constant reminder that the factual evidence of abuse against minorities will never be enough to be acknowledged by millions of Americans.
West may be a “musical genius” or “mentally ill” or grieving for his mother, but he has also experienced the same racial prejudice that we all have, only he chose to silence the voices of his own race once he gained additional socioeconomic benefits in order to promote his music. And we supported him for doing that. For those who bought his album, who posted it on their Instagram story, do you have any right to be angry with those who use hate to fuel their social status? So next time I see another minority tweet about conservative commentator Tomi Lahren or wishing to stand up for the immigrant children separated from their parents, I have to wonder, did their pockets ever support a different narrative? West is a not a victim and the words you sing along to hold more oppressive blood than your hashtags can try to counterbalance.
And don’t you forget that.