“Make America Great Again?” Kayne?

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Photo by Evan Vucci

originally published: https://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/hip-hop/8479571/kanye-west-white-house-donald-trump-quotes

On October 11, 2018 the famed rapper and producer, Kayne West, made a visit to the Oval Office. This episode is one of many demonstrating his support for Donald Trump.  The visit has been widely publicized and left many scratching their heads at Kayne’s seemingly undying support of the 45th president.  The rapper delivered a disjointed soliloquy to the Oval Office and White House Press Pool last Wednesday.  The 10 minute speech has elicited much criticism, however, the rapper did mention key issues for America that demand reform; ranging from police brutality, prison reform and mental health.

West discussed the constitutionally upheld “Stop and Frisk” practice in effect across the country among law enforcement. “Stop and Frisk” allows law enforcement to detain individuals based on reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. The practice is somewhat problematic and can give police far branching authority in detaining citizens and in conducting personal searches. Often, minority populations feel the brunt of this practice when used with overreaching authority and brutality. The practice is a part of general distrust for police officers among Americans.

Last Wednesday’s speech also touched on the problematic 13th amendment to the Constitution-abolishing slavery- albeit preserving it in the form of incarceration. In 2013 over 2.3 million adults were incarcerated across America. With the influx of corporate prisons, this population continues to rise and allows for corruption with the ability for profit.

Kayne also discussed mental health issues and creating jobs. Under the Reagan administration government funded mental health institutions were dismantled. This move has lead to growing homelessness and crime across America. West also mentioned expanding  employment opportunities, specifically in the city of Chicago.

Ignoring the content of Kayne’s speech, what seems to be most appalling is his support for a politician that garners support from white supremacists and the religious right. Political ideologies aligned with these groups often profess bigoted and hateful rhetoric. Kayne has also made statements on race and slavery that are enough to rise eyebrows and question his motive to align himself with the president.

One argument for West’s support of Trump could be about financial motive over true political support. President Trump is one of the wealthiest individuals in America and is supported by a voter base that favors tax breaks for the rich. The wealthiest often benefit the most from fiscally conservative economic policies. Kayne is an A-List celebrity worth $160 Million. The Elite marry the Elite.

However,  the character of the soliloquy seems to be an almost laughable placation to Trump’s insatiable ego and attention seeking addiction. It contains unapologetic praise of Trump and a belief in him to “Make America Great Again.” It speaks a language Trump understands- where he is the center of the universe and ruler of the free world. Kayne even finished his speech with a big hug for ole sir Cheeto.

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Photo Cred: https://www.cnn.com/videos/entertainment/2016/12/13/kanye-west-trump-tower-nr.cnn

Kayne’s support of Trump honestly seems unbelievable. Although Kayne purported to not have voted for Hilary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, Kayne donated thousands to Hilary Clinton’s presidential campaign.  Many of the topics he discussed in his speech were issues that don’t plague most of the voter base of the Republican Party. There seems to be conflict in ideology here.

Given the character of his speech and prior support of Clinton, it begs the question-Is Kayne’s support of Trump really genuine? Is his alignment with Trump some kind of political genius to effectuate change on issues that are impacting millions of Americans? Is he using his position of wealth and status to open discussion on these issues? We can only hope so. Only Kayne really knows….

As reported by NBC, here are some of Kayne’s most choice phrases during his visit.

  • On voting for Trump: “My dad and my mom separated so there was not a lot of male energy in my home and also I’m married to a family where, you know, there’s not a lot of male energy. It’s beautiful though.”
  • On Trump’s support from African-Americans: “Blacks really get caught up in the idea of racism over the idea of industry.”
  • On racism: “Racism can’t control me.”
  • On his mental health: “I wasn’t bipolar, I had sleep deprivation that could cause dementia.”
  • On his speech: “You are tasting a fine wine that has multiple notes to it.”
  • On Trump wanting to implement stop-and-frisk in Chicago: “Well, I feel stop-and-frisk does not help the relationship with people in the city.”
  • On bringing jobs and tax breaks to Chicago: “We’re going to need to get a few breaks to be able to have some places in my hometown of Chicago … where we can create some factories. I think it would be cool for them be Trump factories because he’s a master of industry, he’s a master builder. I think it would be cool to have Yeezy ideation centers.”
  • When asked about Chicago’s gun violence: “The problem is the legal guns. Legal guns is [sic] the problem.”
  • When asked about a possible presidential run: “Let’s stop worrying about the future, all we really have is today.”
  • On Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan: “Another thing is black people have a problem with the word again … because time is a myth.”
  • On being in the Oval Office: “Oh, it is good energy in this.”

No matter what side of the aisle you stand or whether you like Kayne West, some of the ideas mentioned in his speech Wednesday need to be brought to the table.  Even if it is confusing and baffling, the implication could open doors for positive change.

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