I might be the biggest Kanye fan that you know and everybody that knows me, knows that. His public support of Trump in the aftermath of this election threw the whole black community for a loop, especially his loyal fan base. Since it all went down, people have been asking me how I felt about things. To many, it was black and white: “There’s no way you can support Ye any longer!” “He’s a Kardashian!” “The old Kanye is dead.” At times, I felt myself falling into that line of thinking too. This latest Ye-episode was unlike all of the others (George Bush, Taylor Swift, the Fashion Industry, The Breakfast Club, Sway In The Morning, The Confederate Flag, the Model Call List, etc.).
For a lot of us, this one hurt more than the others, and to some it was the last straw. I spent a lot of time thinking and meditating and managed to find a sliver of peace with the situation. I processed my thoughts and penned an open letter to Kanye which you can read below:
In the wake of the election of America’s first (next) demagogue, you had some controversial things to say and received a lot of backlash. They said you were the abomination of Obama’s nation, but I think that that is a bad way to start the conversation. I’m not sure what exactly was on your heart in Q4 of 2016, but I know that the aftermath isn’t as simple as some of us would like to believe. Perspective (and a wise man) says, “One day, we all find our way.” We’re going to get into the nuances today.
“I needed time alone with my own thoughts”
First things first. I’m disappointed in you Kanye for making political comments without understanding the full ramifications and shame on you for not voting. You claim to have so much influence, and we can’t deny it. People wear oversized clothes with holes in them because of the YZY SZNs. The kids rap and make soul beats to be just like you. The TIME magazine cover was just confirmation for you being the voice of a generation, right?
How could you set such an irresponsible example? I’ve seen people abuse power, use power, misuse and then lose power. And now, I hate it had to be you. The power is already with the people; we call it voting. Every cycle we switch out our representatives depending on if they’re catering to our needs or not. Encouraging those whom you influence, to not engage in the civic process is stripping them of that power!
I know you don’t read books, so here’s one of my favorite movie quotes: “With great power, comes great responsibility.” Knowing and understanding that your words help sway the masses, you have got to be more careful in the way that you use them.
Your privilege has actually removed you so much so that you are NOT one with the people because no champion of ours would ever make such a proclamation. How would your grandfather, (the one that took your mama to sit in those segregated, white folks’ seats), feel about you telling the whole world it’s ok not to vote? Do you still get down for him? Cause it don’t feel like you getting down for us.
“Skate on the paradigm and shift it when I feel like.”
Somebody once asked me if I would want everybody to vote if I knew that they were voting for Trump. My rhetoric has and continues to be, if you can support the agenda of Trump then I can’t support you. HOWEVER COMMA I spent a lot of time with your words (even if you didn’t spend much time with Trump’s). When I looked further into what you said, the stripped down message was clear: “I liked the way he debated”.
Walk with me. Admiring the way that Trump performed is perfectly reasonable. The Donald was able to tap into emotions and galvanize a section of the American people, in a way that has not been done in some time by a politician.
For anybody who cares about affecting public opinion, there were many things to learn from Trump. Respecting the art of persuasion is not the same as endorsing the persuader. Objectively speaking, Hitler is one of the greatest motivational speakers of all time. You often rave about wanting to inspire, so the Trump alignment make sense. The fact that Trump so arduously positioned himself as an outsider to a broken system, likely resonated with you.
I remember you rapping “I’m not out of control, I’m just not in they control.” I remember you saying, “if you ain’t fucking the system, then why the fuck are you living”. I get it. Maybe you didn’t endorse what Trump said, but instead just how he said it. That’s when I take a step back and think about what you say and have always said: it’s always been “love and create”.”Disrupt conventional thought”. Etc. Your message got lost in translation, and really that’s your bad. I’m here for a new approach to governing and new ideas entering the political diaspora, but a more careful selection of words would have muted some of the criticism.
Frankly, you cannot (should not) unabashedly endorse someone who has repeatedly exhibited racist, xenophobic, sexist, bigoted, and fear-mongering rhetoric just because you like the way that he speaks. There are nuances to everything, but good and bad is binary. And when you’re on the wrong side of that line, it does not matter how much good you do.
“’Tention to detail is so uncanny”
The most influential voice of a generation, the greatest rockstar of the modern era. These are some of the titles that you’ve claimed over the years. In the wake of your recent behavior, you got me thinking Kanye. My first thought was an immediate disapproval and disposal. I’ve made clear that I had zero tolerance for any Trump apologist. People kept on coming up to me and asking ‘well what are you going to do?” I caught myself asking how can I just discard somebody who has been so instrumental in helping me to understand who I am. You may not speak for the people, but you are speaking to the people, and some may not like it, but we’re all listening.
Some people lament that you’ve changed your message, but honestly I feel like you’ve just grown. I think it’s important that people actually hear what you’re saying. I was with you singing “racism still alive, and they just concealing it,” but I’m with you in saying we need to stop focusing on outward racism so much, and instead focus on affecting positive change on the communities that we live in. One candidate or the other is not going to improve this country.
You spoke to how the “media” lied to us. First off, knock it off. There’s no media agenda. There’s not a unified conglomerate that makes all the decisions for every news company to have to follow. The very thought of that is asinine, and introducing that type of idea into the public discourse is a distraction. I will agree that we should be wary of echo chambers, and only listening to outlets that cater to a particular perspective. This last election cycle taught us that yellow journalism is still very much part of our reality. You should attack them (yellow journalists)! You should attack the biased media! Undermining the media as a whole weakens the integrity of our press, and if we can’t trust dedicated journalists reporting on what’s going on in the world…I don’t even want to think about it.
At any rate, we all thought the election would turn out different. And that’s largely because of the bubble that we, the progressives, have chosen to put ourselves in. We’ve built up an intolerance for opposing thoughts, and that’s my greatest takeaway. It’s so easy removing casual acquaintances from my social networks when their political ideologies don’t align with mine. It’s a whole nother story when it is one of your idols that becomes the offending party.
When It Comes to Being True, At Least True to Me…
I came up with every reason in the book for why I should still allow myself to be a fan of yours which put me in a conundrum. I had to decide if my values are really my values: Am I really zero-tolerance or is it just something that I say when it’s convenient? Is there room for acceptance and if so, was I wrong all the times that I wrote somebody off?
As with so many things in my life, you’ve forced some hard thoughts and conversations. Your antics continue to create difficult dialogue for us in your fan base. Every time you do something, we’re the ones who have to answer for it. However, in doing so, you’ve also made me work through some issues that I don’t know I would have ever taken the time to consider otherwise.
People say that you should not look up to public figures, celebrities, or anybody for that matter because people are fallible. I think it is the fallibility that makes them the perfect people to look to, not just in what they do right but also when they do wrong. HOV once said he did *that* so hopefully, we don’t have to go through that. I see myself traipsing around mistakes that I would have otherwise made, if not for seeing you go about doing it the wrong way.
You said back in 2006, “that there are no dreams to be sold but the inspiration is free,” and so I’m choosing NOT to discard all of the lessons that you’ve taught me (and us) over the years while still condemning the idiocracy that you sometimes appear to stand for. At the end of the day, what you choose to do is your choice, but it is my responsibility as a sentient being to make my own decisions.
This is what democracy really looks like. Opposing opinions having the freedom to say what they want and feel.
So yeah, thanks for teaching me a few new lessons in the middle of all this shit. I ain’t planning on buying tickets any time soon because I’m scared that you’ll pull some bullshit again and walk off.
And I ain’t caping for your support of Trump because the dialogue that he has reintroduced to the nation and the appointments that he has already made are setting our country back.
But I AM still a fan, even as the shit hits the fan. Even though I disagree with a lot of what you said, I understand.
“There’s a thousand you’s, there’s only one of me”
I gotta address the leaving the concerts early. You was tripping, too caught up in the moment. Abandoning people who yell and scream your name at a concert that they paid to see you perform at? That’s Michael Jackson bad. I saw you when you came to my city earlier in the year; it was my first concert ever. I held out for years because I wanted to make sure my first show was special. I can only imagine the type of saltiness I’d have experienced if you pulled that stunt in Columbus.
Your shows aren’t cheap, and you have people saving months to be able to see you perform live. Deep down you know that was wrong. And we know it was too. And we ain’t giving you a pass for it, no matter how interesting the words that you shared during your rant were.