We let Kanye get away with being Kanye for too long
We have to stop diagnosing him with mental illness to deny accountability. Kanye is simply a White supremacist who happens to be Black.
by Kirsten Howard
“When people tell you who they are, believe them the first time.”
Last week marked the return of rapper and producer turned alt-right Twitter provocateur, Kanye West. He came to Twitter with no warning after a long hiatus from the social media platform, and it seemed, at first, that his activity would take on a new life as he tweeted inspirational quotes at his followers.
It did not take long before he was retweeting and supporting Black conservative pundit, Candace Owens, saying, “I like the way she thinks.” This endorsement came as a shock for Kanye fans, as Owens has notably spoken publicly against Black Lives Matter while declaring her hardened support for Trump. In an even more bizarre turn of events, Kanye then tweeted his own feverous support for President Trump.
After all, this is the same Kanye West who famously stood on live TV and said, “George Bush doesn’t care about Black people” after the former President’s poor response to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.
At some point between now and then, something shifted. Many fans blame the sudden death of his mother, Dr. Donda West, in 2007. Dr. West was a gifted educator and a rock for Kanye, who released “Hey Mama” in her honor two years before her death.
I think I have a lot in common with Kanye. We were both raised in a middle class families in Chicago, we both love fashion and hip-hop, our mothers were our best friends and cornerstones, and we lost them in the same year within a month of each other.
It made sense to me that Kanye would wrestle with his trauma through his music, as he did with subsequent albums. As his fans watched him spiraling through his grief — like his infamous “Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time” interruption during Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech at the 2009 VMAs — we all just wanted to protect him.
Things seemed to get better for him when he married Kim Kardashian and started a family. We weren’t sure whether his marriage to the reality star was a ploy for more viewers, it seemed to be the stability that Kanye needed in his life, regardless of our feelings for her.
But this relative peace did not last long. Over time, his tweets only got more and more erratic, and soon it was Kim Kardashian who was apparently to blame for Kanye’s Kanye-ing.
He spiraled even more, through a stint in rehab, lashing outside at the paparazzi, a social media hiatus, and more, leading us up to this moment in which MAGA Kanye has surfaced.
I think it’s unfair to blame either his mother’s death or his marriage to Kim for Kanye the MAGA hat-wearing Black White supremacist.The truth is that we are now seeing what has always been. We just spent so many years coddling him and excusing his behavior.
Every time Kanye was in the news for yet another egregious thing he’d said or done, it was always his mother’s death or his marriage to a fetishist being used as a first line of defense.
“Kanye aint the same since his mama died.”
“Kim K made him into this zombie”
When you lose a parent, the first few years are incredibly hard, but that hardship is no excuse for siding with White supremacists. We cannot keep using this as a way to explain Kanye’s actions. It’s past time to finally admit that it’s him, his lust for Whiteness, and his own internalized anti-Blackness.
But this is a hard thing for us to say out loud, and we know why — we continually defend cishet Black men like Kanye and allow them to skirt accountability.
Harlem-born rapper Azealia Banks, known more for her social media drama than her music, is painfully aware of this truth. Her outbursts have been similar to Kanye’s. Both have shared their endorsement of Trump, giving their support to an administration that embolden s violent racists, all because they claim that Trump “thinks differently.”
The irony of us “cancelling” Azealia Banks for her endorsement, but defending Kanye’s right to do the is rooted in misogynoir, even though they both display ugly anti-Blackness that deserves no defense.
In a similar vein, placing the blame for Kanye on Kim is a product of misogyny, even if our general distaste for her is justified.
Kim Kardashian appropriated her way to celebrity stardom, and Kanye views her as the ultimate trophy. Her whiteness coupled with her appropriation of Blackness, including her enhanced curves and mimicry of the parts of Black femininity that Black women are shamed for, are ideal prizes for the misogynoiristic Black rapper.
Meanwhile, Kanye’s token Black friend existence and worshipping of whiteness is ideal for the white woman who fetishizes Black culture and Black men. Their relationship is symbiotic.
Even so, Kanye is a 40 year-old man, independent of his wife, with control of his own words and actions. She may be a fetishist and an enabler, but she did not create this monster.
Looking at his past lyrics, it’s evident that he has been aligned himself with capitalism, whiteness, misogynoir, and anti-Blackness for quite some time now.
“I bet me and Ray J would be friends/ If we ain’t love the same bitch/ Yeah, he might have hit it first/ Only problem is I’m rich.” Highlights (2016)
“My bitch make your bitch look like Precious.” Mercy (2012)
“And when he get on, he leave your ass for a white girl.” Gold Digger (2005)
Of course, these are just a few.
We have to stop diagnosing him with mental illness as a way to deflect or deny accountability. Kanye is simply a White supremacist who happens to be Black. He’s been telling us exactly who he is, we just didn’t want to believe it, and it’s now time we have to face the music.
There is no excuse for his actions, and neither the presence of his wife nor the absence of his mother are to blame.
Bold, funny, and fearless. Kirsten writes humorous quips on social media on racism, misogynoir, and all things pop culture. In her real life, she is a makeup artist and caretaker and often shares her hilarious stories about her adventures with her 82 year old father. Follow her on Twitter: @AR_goddess