What Kanye Did
Kanye West is a conservative celebrity, now atypical of the Hollywood elite, whose members are broadly in support of leftist ideology. He is also a black celebrity, who should, in many people’s eyes, make him a representative of the interests of black people.
The words “Thank you Kanye, very cool” were uttered by the 45th President of the United States. From his initial tweets, his sporting of the MAGA hat, meetings with and love for Donald Trump, Kanye is recreating himself. Under the modern left’s ideology, Donald Trump symbolizes the return of racial hatred against non-white people and xenophobia of immigrants to the country, particularly non-white ones.
My opinion of Kanye’s actions is that he is simply thinking differently than he used to, or he has finally been brave enough to say what he thinks despite Hollywood celebrity culture, expectations of his fans, or the accepted mainstream narrative of his racial identity. It seems to me that his opinions are not fully defined beyond wanting to form a political opinion and not going in the direction desired by others.
The Loss of the Individual
The reasons why Kanye did what he did are less telling than the public’s reaction to him. Regardless of whether Kanye is attempting to publicly reason through a political awakening, is finally deciding to share a long-held opinion, or is generating publicity for himself, he has incensed a culture that does not support independent thought or what makes someone an individual. However moral the reason is in their minds, the public outcry has defined his stance as blasphemy. One man has accused him of fraternizing with their enemies. Others fall back on negatively highlighting his mental state, ignoring the many individuals who agree with Kanye. Their responses show a belief that, once a person born into the world with dark skin, they have signed a contract that forces them to define everyone through the lens of racial identity and/or leftist ideology. It is as if there is no possible way to make sense of the world without categories and no future without them. Agree or be cast out. Kanye is not the first black man to have experienced this backlash, and he probably won’t be the last. He is also not the first individual of any identity category to feel the wrath of his self-appointed overlords.
The left’s newly defined ideology has made it so important for people to define good and evil and keep their wards from going astray into danger that they no longer respect the individual’s right over their own thought, nor do they see the gift of seeing seeing differently as the same mechanism that has sparked transformation in the past. Yet, nearly every act society defines as wrong—slavery, theft, murder, rape—comes from the idea that each person has a right to own the self. Even to lie means to deny an individual the information that allows them to make a choice which affects them and their person. Their ideology that defines Trump as the enemy, Kanye’s daughter as a victim, and any supporter of Trump a defender of sexism or racism, is so rigid that it is at the heights of religious conviction, where they are ready to cast out those who never pledged allegiance.
The Loss of the Individual in the (American) “Black Community”
I came across a particularly unpalatable article that highlights this loss of the individual clearly, brought to my attention by YouTuber Benjamin Boyce in an interview I did recently. The article by Ta-Nehisi Coates (see below) casts Kanye West’s actions as the ultimate betrayal, which is similar to Coates’s childhood experience of watching Michael Jackson reject his noble skin color. Coates describes Kanye as wanting to be white and desiring white freedom, which is a kind of freedom that does not exist for a black man. He asks Kanye to come home to his racial identity. Instead of the slave masters telling Kanye that he should know his place “as a black man,” there is now the modern day pro-black activist who tells him how he must engage life “as a black man.” It is not enough for Coates to be satisfied with his own understanding of the world and solutions to the struggles of life. All other people must follow his religion and “come back home,” lest they walk the path of self-destruction. They cannot make their own map, mark their own landmarks, even when they have a different heritage (as is my case as a foreigner), and figure out how to get to the treasure they seek. They must be held in mental bondage to the vision of Coates and others like him.
Examining Coates’ words deeper, he stated:
“It is often easier to choose the path of self-destruction when you don’t consider who you are taking along for the ride, to die drunk in the street if you experience the deprivation as your own, and not the deprivation of family, friends, and community. And maybe this, too, is naive, but I wonder how different his life might have been if Michael Jackson knew how much his truly black face was tied to all of our black faces, if he knew that when he destroyed himself, he was destroying part of us, too. I wonder if his life would have been different, would have been longer. And so for Kanye West, I wonder what he might be, if he could find himself back into connection, back to that place where he sought not a disconnected freedom of ‘I,’ but a black freedom that called him back—back to the bone and drum, back to Chicago, back to Home.”
One person’s personal philosophy being used to have control over another individual does not seem to remind Coates and others like him of the slavery that they diligently wash their personal histories in and bemoan their suffering within, while having no personal experience of it. Coates does not think in isolation, however. The public response to Kanye’s pronouncements seems to be first betrayal, then ridicule. They feel betrayed because Kanye is breaking ranks and aiding the enemy. They feel the need to ridicule because a joke or mental aberration does not have to be taken seriously. Perhaps Kanye’s 400 years of slavery was a choice comment, possibly meant to point out that not every black person was a slave, as so often left off the Black American archives about America and around the world, or that the mental slavery has long outlived the actual numbered years of physical constraints. How could anyone find out if they are not allowed to search? Kanye is not the first, nor will he be the last to walk this path.
There are many individuals who continue to break from the mental script handed to them by the left or their communities, and who receive backlash for it. Until liberal America starts jumping down the throats of so-called minorities who call other minorities racial slurs the way they do against any white person who commits a perceived slight, I know they still do not see minorities as equal in moral standing. I believe that day is a long time coming. And I believe character is one of the most important things an individual can possess, beyond handouts and sympathy, and the virtue signals of care.
Is Kanye a Hero?
Did the Kanye Trump tweet make Kanye a hero? In my eyes, Kanye is a hero because he lights a new path—not because he is perfect. Whether or not celebrities’ opinions should be placed on a pedestal, he is respected in a community that has so far only been familiar with one narrative to guide their path. He is sparking the interest of many to look and consider traveling the journey of the unknown path.
Edited by Em Solis