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Donald Trump and Kanye West

It’s so damn sad to witness the man who gave us The College Dropout fall down into this trajectory.

Early Tuesday morning, Kanye West — after spending several days in a hospital over exhaustion, according to CNN — strolled with his entourage through the golden corridors of Trump Tower for a private meeting with President-Elect Donald Trump.

Side note: Despite the fact that mainstream outlets are reporting that West was hospitalized for a “nervous breakdown,” our aim is not to pathologize anyone diagnosed with a mental illness. We must also emphasize that West has never publicly stated that he’s been diagnosed with a mental illness.

The optics of that scene alone, as well as the sight of them standing side by side and smiling during the press conference that followed, was sufficient grist for memes, expletives and outrage. Watching a clip of it on a local news station, my immediate instinctual reaction, quietly uttered in my head, was, “It was only a matter of time.”

Honestly, what else could I say? Weeks before, during one of his infamous, tedious rants about a bunch of shit that didn’t make much sense while performing in concert, West admitted to the crowd that he didn’t vote — but said that had he cast his ballot, it would’ve been for Donald Trump.

Premonition of weird stunts to come? I think so.

What exactly was said, whether or not any grand ideas were exchanged in this titanic meeting of minds — after all, we’re talking about arguably two of the most narcissistic personalities on the face of the entire planet — has not been disclosed. According to a tweet West published, the two discussed a range of “multicultural issues.” “These issues included bullying, supporting teachers, modernizing curriculums, and violence in Chicago,” West tweeted. 

Classic Kanye.

Trump was even more sparing with the details, simply saying he and West discussed “life.” Life? Like, WTF are we supposed to do with that?

Anyway, one thing we can all agree on is that no pushback or criticism of Trump’s “new deal” for Black America, or any kind of informed, well-thought-out, progressive recommendations about an alternative set of steps the incoming president should take to improve the lives of Black America was put forward by Mr. West during this meeting. Guaranteed.

But what more can we expect from a man who has fallen far from celebrity grace to become the preferred token black of white America?

Old Kanye West said, “George Bush does not care about black people,” in response to the inept manner in which the 43rd president handled the Hurricane Katrina disaster that rocked the southern world of New Orleans and, through his lyrics, criticized his obsession over material things. New Kanye West idolizes rich, powerful white men. He has likened himself to Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Howard Hughes, Henry Ford and even Walt Disney — notwithstanding documentation of Disney’s virulently racist attitude. He fancies himself an amalgam of these personalities, presumably the very best and most intelligent of white society. He’s even managed to befriend pop star Taylor Swift after an awkward and nasty icebreaker at the 2009 MTV Awards.

Oh, and he married a Kardashian.

In West’s eyes, these disgustingly wealthy and seemingly invincible white humans epitomize the frontier of human greatness. Never mind how they “earned” — and I use the term very loosely here — their fortunes, who they clawed and stomped on to ascend to the apex of our extremely stratified American pyramid. West demonstrably doesn’t care. He emotes opportunism and men like Trump are just the sort of company an aspiring black capitalist aims to keep.

Related: “But Some Of Us Are Brave”: On Kanye and The Disposal of Black Women & Femmes’ Mental Health

It’s just so damn sad to witness the man who, once upon an age ago, gave us an album mocking whiteness, gleefully consent to being cast as the token black guy to gain access to the halls of power populated primarily by white captains of industry.

But what does Trump collect from all this?

Simple. He gets what any white person who adopts or allows a black person into his social circle — or, at minimal, a wing of it — gets: credibility. And a mouthpiece.

In a vein similar to the recent antics of Floyd Mayweather, Lil’ Wayne and Cam Newton, Kanye West is that black friend white folks love to keep around for the sake of appearances, and who, when the occasion arrives, say in public all the things that, under any other circumstance, they would be summarily eviscerated for saying. Stuff like, “Black people need to worry more about the high rates of crime tearing apart their own community, not making things difficult for police.” Or, “Foolish acting niggas is the real reason black people can’t get ahead, not white supremacy.” We know this as the black pathology argument. Or, “Slavery and Jim Crow happened years ago. Get over it!”

He may not see or, for that matter, understand this. He may not get that he’s further cementing that trope. But that’s what’s going on.

It’s time for an intervention, y’all, to paraphrase a Facebook post that Black Lives Matter leader Alicia Garza posted about the meeting. It’s been time. This is getting out of hand.

The black community, for far too long, has been inspired and led by “false prophets.”


Antwan is an educator, cultural critic, actor, and writer for Wear Your Voice Mag (WYV), where he focuses on the dynamics of class, race, gender, politics, and pop culture. Prior to joining the team at WYV, he was an adjunct professor in the African American Studies Department at Valdosta State University in southern Georgia, where he taught African American Literature. He has traveled the U.S. and U.K. showcasing a fifty-five minute, one-person play titled Whitewash, which focuses on the state of black men in the post-civil rights era. Antwan received his B.A. in English and Literature from California State University, Dominguez Hills, and M.A. in African American Studies from University of California, Los Angeles. He is a Ronald E. McNair Scholar and NAACP theater nominee.

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