Kanye West has been in a bit of a downward spiral lately, and he’s taking the American public down with him. After months of relative quiet from the attention-seeking hip-hop star, that all changed when photos surfaced of the unconventional and unpredictable mogul rocking a “White Lives Matter” shirt at a fashion show for his clothing line Yeezy – and at his daughter North’s basketball game.
The backlash and criticism were about what one would expect, but also highlighted the troubled entertainer’s contribution to MAGA narratives and bigoted rhetoric. From White Lives Matter to antisemitic tirades, and now his latest offense – wearing a confederate flag-adorned jacket, a stunt that left the internet in a collective “WTF” moment.
— Kaylan_TX-ish (@Kaylan_TX) October 9, 2022
Since hopping on the Trump Train, Ye’s actions have been as disturbing as his increasingly volatile and inciteful rhetoric – shocking even those familiar with his erratic and unpredictable behavior through the years. But social media wasn’t giving West a pass – refusing to let the narcissist’s known struggles with mental health absolve him of his most current role as an insufferable troll.
He thinks he can hide behind his money. And sadly at the end of the day he might be right. He will still be rich when it’s said and done. I hate how money means you can be an absolute horrible person and get away with it
— Scottie (@sandrewski1966) October 9, 2022
The amount of self loathing is off the charts
— 𝕵𝕱𝖊𝖙𝖟 🍻⚽️ 🇺🇸🇩🇪🇺🇦 (@jfetzenrausch) October 9, 2022
During his short-lived campaign for President in 2020, Ye made the wild claim that legendary abolitionist Harriet Tubman — most widely remembered for her role in helping slaves escape to freedom via the underground railroad – didn’t actually free the slaves, but instead, “She just had the slaves go work for other white people.” In 2018, West asserted that slavery was a “choice,” according to TMZ.
“When you hear about slavery for 400 years — for 400 years? That sounds like a choice. Like, you was there for 400 years and it’s all of y’all? It’s like we’re mentally in prison.” – Kanye West
This didn’t go over too well with historians nor with those well versed in Tubman’s contributions to Black history and American history. Kate Clifford Larson, author of the Tubman biography Bound for the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman, Portrait of an American Hero, weighed in on Kanye’s comments about Tubman.
“She put up with a lot of abuse her whole life.” Larson said of Tubman. “She’s getting the attention and accolades that she deserves. Why tear her down now? It’s just ridiculous.”
Harriet Tubman made 19 trips along the Underground Railroad to free over 300 enslaved people between 1850-1860. She once had a $40,000 ($1.2 million in 2020) bounty on her head. She carried a pistol on her for protection from slave catchers and slaves who wanted to turn back. pic.twitter.com/YLcHZDJAaj
— Detroit Griot (@JustCallmeBHunt) July 19, 2020
It was also in 2018 that West proposed abolishing the 13th amendment – which itself abolished slavery.
this represents good and America becoming whole again. We will no longer outsource to other countries. We build factories here in America and create jobs. We will provide jobs for all who are free from prisons as we abolish the 13th amendment. Message sent with love pic.twitter.com/a15WqI8zgu
— ye (@kanyewest) September 30, 2018
Celebrity worship in this country is at least partly how we ended up with Donald Trump as president to begin with, so we cannot underestimate the power West wields, even if it’s easier to laugh at him than take him seriously.
TMZ journalist Van Lathan realized the significance of someone with Kanye West’s influence using his platform to push stereotypes, narratives, and tropes that are harmful to the culture and marginalized communities.
“Frankly, I’m disappointed, I’m appalled and, brother, I am unbelievably hurt by the fact that you have morphed into something, to me, that’s not real.” – Lathan
According to The Washington Post:
“I think what you’re doing right now is actually the absence of thought. And the reason why I feel like that is because, Kanye, you’re entitled to your opinion. You’re entitled to believe whatever you want,” he said. Lathan continued: “But there is fact, and real-world, real-life consequence behind everything that you just said. And while you are making music and being an artist and living the life that you’ve earned by being a genius, the rest of us in society have to deal with these threats to our lives. We have to deal with the marginalization that has come from the 400 years of slavery that you said, for our people, was a choice.
As of now, it appears Kanye West has made his choice – misinformation, antisemitism , self-hatred, Donald Trump, and useful idiocy–over culture, community, democracy, inclusion, and America.
One can only wonder how much longer his career can survive his offensive personality.
Follow Ty Ross on Twitter @cooltxchick