In the past week Kanye West has left the internet shaking after expressing his blatant support for notourious American president, Donald Trump. He claimed that, “the mob can’t make me not love him.” West even went as far as posting a picture of himself in a “Make America Great Again” hat. Since then, he has either received seething criticism from the left or fervent praise from the right. Either way, he has everyone talking which probably was his goal to begin with.
How Kanye got to this point is puzzling considering that in the dawn of his career, he was very outspoken about racism. After former president, George Bush, neglected the victims of Hurricane Katrina, West called him out on national television. “George Bush doesn’t care about Black people,” being his exact words. How do we go from that to his current form which is an unmoved supporter of Donald Trump, a white conservative who has made it known that pushing oppressed groups further within the margins is his goal?
West rationalizes his support for Trump by claiming he doesn’t support everything Trump stands for but they both have “dragon energy” and even calls Trump his “brother.” West claimed he was an “independent thinker” who was no longer afraid of receiving backlash for having opinions that go against the grain and he was not democratic or republican but “free.” He criticized Obama and liberals for not doing much for the Black community. In Kanye’s mind, he defies the binary nature of the American political system and floats somewhere in the middle.
What Kanye and his devout following do not understand is, his “independent thinking” is not necessarily unique. A number of Black Americans become interested in republican politics because, along with simply not unpacking internalized anti-Black sentiments, they feel white liberals do not have their best interest at heart in the long run and they also believe that Black Americans should not get hand-outs nor see ourselves as victims. At the end of the day, the very core of Black conservatism is this need to be a contrarian and feel exceptional. What exactly is “independent” or unique about that?
This society is obsessed with binaries. Gender is viewed as a binary: man or woman. Women are viewed as a binary: woman or hoe/bitch/slut. It’s either right or wrong. It’s either black or white. There is little wiggle room for nuance. The American political system is a binary: democrat or republican and Black Americans buy into this notion that if they are not one, they have to be another. That is the danger of thinking in binaries. You are so pressed about being different that you end up still siding with people who would ultimately like to see your demise.
It is true. White liberals will have you convinced that they do care about you and want to fight for the betterment of marginalized communities. White liberals and their racism is “polite” and insidious. The film Get Out by Jordan Peele, remarkably shows how liberal racism operates. Liberals will smile in your face while they have their foot on your neck. White liberals were the ones who wrote a crime bill that ended up with many Black Americans trapped in the prison system. It was liberals who bombed and droned brown people overseas. It was liberals who deported the most immigrants in American history. This narrative that liberals care about marginalized communities is incredibly flawed.
But recognizing how damaging democrats can be should not mean you side with people who will stab you in the chest instead of the back.
At the end of the day, both groups will place shackles on your feet and what is there to celebrate if you are still not free? Sure you’re free to think whatever have you but what’s the point in “free thinking” when you still standing there in chains?
By aligning with a man who is blood thirsty for power and makes it his mission to deny rights to people of color, women, and the LGBT+ community, Kanye has chosen a side within the binary. He can convince himself that he’s an “independent” thinker all he wants but Trump’s political beliefs are inextricable to who he is as a person–in fact they are what defines his whole morality. Just as you can not separate an artist from their art, since their art is an extension of who they are, you can not separate the politician from his politics. To support Trump in any capacity is to support and normalize who he is and what he stands for.
White democrats do not have Black Americans best interest at heart. Sure. But neither do white conservatives. White conservatives have craftily used Black conservatives for their benefit. White conservatives are only about “free thinking” unless that thinking aligns with their oppressive views. Colin Kaepernick was a “free thinker” and we see how that turned out..
White conservatives have convinced Black conservatives that they are “independent thinkers” who have not fallen into victimhood when in actuality Black conservatives still end up becoming tokenized–something they claim white liberals do. White conservatives use these token Black conservatives to make them feel better about themselves–to convince themselves and others that they are not racist. They just don’t feel that anyone should get hand-outs.
When you strip a group of people from their homeland, enslave them for 200 or so years, set them back years after the abolition of slavery via segregation and denial of human rights, you don’t get to tell these same people they have to pull themselves up when it wasn’t them who put themselves down in the first place. That notion in itself is racist. Citing white supremacy for the demise of Black Americans is not self-victimization. It’s sheer facts and pointing that out doesn’t mean we think we’re defeated. It means we know we deserve better and it’s time for America to pay up.
I digress though.
When it comes to politics, there is no need to adhere to the binary structure of the American Political system. It is fine to exist in a place on the spectrum that is neither left or right. Opposition of democrats, does not mean you have to support republicans. You can think for yourself while still thinking about others. “Independent thinker” does not mean thinking outside of the box when it is at the expense of others.