‘Kanye West, us and Trump’
By Pastor Rasheed Z Baaith
“I have not sat with vain persons, neither will I go in with dissemblers.” (Psalm 96:4)
America is now a place where this country is actually two territories composed of what is called red states and blue states. And we find that among both groups are Democrats and Republicans, Independents and others. These designations are as much about politics, race, gender and social status as they are about geography although the Southern states are usually thought to be red states and the states of the North are blue states. The supporters of President Trump and his polices are red state people, those who oppose him are considered blue state folk. The disdain and loathing each group has for the other is so deep that rules of civility along with common sense are no longer in play. It is so deep that certain ethnicities believe that for one of their own to support one stance or the other is a betrayal of the worst nature. Particularly in our community.
As a result of that thinking, when Kanye West announced he not only supported President Trump but that he “loved” President Trump, condemnations were quick and unrelenting. Like many of us I was appalled at what Kanye said. I thought the statement was uninformed, intellectually lacking and spoke to how confused Kanye is. How can you support anyone who holds your people in such low regard, who believes Nazis are “good people” or has said your homeland is full of “—hole countries?”
Yet here is the thing: no matter how much so many of us are unhappy about what Kanye said, it is his right to say it. For us to attempt to limit his speech because we disagree with it is tantamount to what the slave master did to us. They did not want us to think or speak about anything but the status they forced us into. For us to do the same is apartheid era behavior. In addition, Kanye said that he saw no change in the violence in Chicago when President Obama was in office. While any negative statement about President Obama is considered blasphemy in the black community, I have to agree with Kanye West. Here is what so many of us forget: that before Parkland and since Parkland our children suffered gun violence. In the cities of LA, New York City, Miami and Chicago just to name a few, children of color have been dying by gun violence in epidemic numbers. A lot of officials who could have brought more focus to this epidemic and to those victims, including President Obama, did not. I don’t know if it was because Raul Emmanuel, the Mayor of Chicago, had been his former Chief of Staff and he did not want to threaten their relationship or what. But the fact is he didn’t do all he could have to impact that horror. We may not want to accept that truth but it does not change the fact of it.
Finally there’s this. When Chance said that not all Black people have to be Democrats, he is correct. Some of us need to be everywhere and that includes in the Republican Party, the Independents, the Democrats and among the Progressives. It is without question we certainly have not gotten all we should have from our loyalty to the Democratic Party, but we have gotten a whole lot less from the Republicans.
I believe profoundly that Kanye West is wrong in his support of a racist like President Trump, but I believe it is even more wrong to tell Kanye he cannot voice that support. Think about it.