Kanye West’s pro-Trump tweetstorm last week was met with harsh criticism and backlash from fans and celebrities alike. Numerous high-profile musicians tweeted responses to West’s rants, many condemning his support for the president.
Despite his polarizing statements, it isn’t the public’s place to silence Kanye’s voice and assume his (lack of) virtue. Instead, we must welcome the much-needed discussion between two isolated, often closed-minded sides of the political spectrum.
Living in Washington, DC, which is often cited as a “liberal bubble,” we of all people are likely to dismiss West’s comments as ignorant and dumbfounded. However, it’s important for us to recognize that roughly half of the United States voted for Donald Trump, and that not all of these people should be generalized this way.
Many will say that Kanye is out of touch with the average American, as he is extremely wealthy and is now one of the most famous people in America. However, West came from a modest (at best) background in the south side of Chicago, and can relate to the large group of people who feel disenfranchised by Trump’s rhetoric and policies. Admittedly, he lives a much different life now, but you could hardly say that he doesn’t know what it feels like to be in the working class. In addition, West has made a career off of rapping about social issues, as seen in many of his most famous songs, such as “Jesus Walks,” “New Slaves,” and “Crack Music.” His lyrics frequently discuss issues relating to racism and marginalization, including topics such as police brutality, lynching, and the long-lasting effects of slavery. He has also spoken out against the homophobic tendencies of hip-hop culture and accused President George W. Bush of “[not caring] about Black people” amidst the chaos of Hurricane Katrina.
While West made very clear his support of President Trump, he also made an extra effort to ensure that people didn’t take his messages the wrong way. Shortly after he revealed his pro-Trump stance, he also stated that, “I don’t agree with everything Trump does.” While many of Trump’s views have been labeled as “bigoted” and “ignorant,” West never claimed to support these beliefs, and we must be sure not to put these labels on every Trump supporter.
One of the responses to West’s tweet that received the most publicity was that from Chance the Rapper, one of West’s former protégés. Shortly after West posted some of his most controversial tweets, Chance tweeted that “Black people don’t have to be Democrats.” By tweeting this, Chance acknowledged the expectations that are put on marginalized groups to subscribe to the conventional beliefs about what benefits them, rather than allowing them to determine that for themselves.
Especially in today’s political climate, it is crucial for us to be able to tolerate people that we disagree with. As long as a person has not attacked or discriminated against a group of people, peaceful political discussion should be encouraged and is essential in order to cure the toxic division that comes from our political differences.