For the better part of a week, we have all been caught up in Kanye West’s whirlwind of tweets. In fact, Kanye’s tweet storm might’ve been more Trumpian than his pride in his autographed “Make America Great Again” hat. For days, West has been at the center of a hot-take extravaganza with writers trying to make sense of a black man from Chicago whose music once embodied all of the hopes and fears of many black folks. A black man raised by his ultra-pro-black mother. A black man who once stood on national television and proclaimed rightfully and proudly that “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.”
We collectively loved that Kanye. He was righteous, honest to a fault, and willing to point out that black people suffer from conspicuous consumption and the allure of the white gaze.
This Kanye, this grown Kanye, suffers from white-adornment syndrome. He loves whiteness—not just the skin, but the power that it embodies. You can see his obsession with it in his relationship with his wife, a manufactured replica of blackness with factory-refurbished, aftermarket, black girl body parts. A white woman whose only marketable skill is being a white woman. If whiteness were a superpower, then Kanye would capture it and wear it like Wolverine’s claws. Now he’s attacking black folks with it.
Kanye’s newfound Trumpianism isn’t just support. He’s literally using his most powerful weapons (his voice and social media—think of these as his adamantium claws) to sing Trump’s praises.
Ever notice that every “genius” Kanye compares himself to is a white person? He will proudly proclaim that he’s this generation’s Walt Disney or Steve Jobs! I’ve never once heard Kanye yell, “I’m this generation’s Madam C.J. Walker, Charles Drew or Paul Laurence Dunbar!”
And since this all started on Twitter, it’s only fitting that a tweet sums up my feelings on young Kanye vs. Kanye now:
Something wrong, I hold my head.
Kanye gone, that nigga dead.
If anyone embodies young Kanye’s spirit, it’s Chance the Rapper. Chance is Chicago-born and -raised, anti-establishment, pro-black and pro-church. He’s openly amazed even at his own success. He channeled all of our emotion when he met Beyoncé. We watched him cry when he received his Grammys. So it was more than a bit disheartening to watch him cape for “MAGA” Kanye. It was troubling to see Chance tweet his support of Kanye’s love for Donald Trump.
Shortly after Kanye claimed that he and Trump shared the same “dragon energy” and that no one could stop him from loving that orange sack of afterbirth, Chance came on Twitter to clear up any doubt that there was anything wrong with the rapper or his position.
It didn’t take long for the right to eat this shit up.
You know you are losing when not only does Lil Donald from Mar-a-Lago shout you out but the big homie aligns you with Darrell Scott, one of the greasiest conks to ever blackface.
Well, it didn’t take long for Chance to realize that he probably should have sat this one out. Shortly after those tweets, he added:
Nah, nigga. As the kids say, “You asked for this wreck.”
Don’t try and Jay-Z your way out of this shit. The stakes are higher than they’ve ever been for people of color. The current administration is fighting to ban Muslims from existing in the United States and fighting to put up a wall on the border of Mexico, which, in the words of the great Atlanta philosophers Goodie Mob in their seminal text Soul Food, chapter “Cell Therapy,” has me wondering if this wall is being put up to “keep crime out, or keep our ass in.”
The Trump administration is helmed by a man so racist that he refused to rent to black people and so delusional that he once masqueraded as an employee to push lies about his money and sex life (though now that I think about it, creating an alter ego to brag on money you don’t have and women you haven’t slept with is actually quite rapperish). I don’t know if you get to “Bennett and I ain’t in it” your way out of this.
And Chance agrees because he issued a mea culpa:
For the TL;DR crowd, I can sum it up like this: Kanye is a brother to Chance, and Chance stood up for his brother while not realizing the ramifications. Now, in hindsight (and after some 5,000 comments on his timeline), Chance would never have aligned himself with such hatred.
OK, two things:
- I dig Chance’s apology because he acknowledges that his love for Kanye is what got him into this fight, and after realizing what has actually happened, he can’t ride with him on this one.
- I’m going to need these rappers to realize their social influence and pay attention to politics if they’re going to jump into these fights.
The costs are too dire. This administration is not only openly and actively racist; it also has no problem being openly and actively racist. Don’t believe me? Just ask James Shaw Jr., the Waffle House hero who risked his life to take down a white terrorist, how many times the president has said his name. Check Twitter for how many times the commander in tweets has acknowledged his heroic act.
I’ll save you the trouble; it’s the same number of “Black Lives Matter” T-shirts he owns.
It’s time for rappers to understand the power of their voices. They should understand that speaking about issues where they are uninformed and being silent about issues that matter speaks volumes. Gone are the days of ignorance about policy and the community. People of color are at war, and if you decide not to add your voice to the struggle of the people who buy your music, just make sure that your silence doesn’t become white noise. But if you decide you want to make noise ...
Please make sure it isn’t white.