What is Kanye West doing?

This has been a crazy few weeks for successful rap artist Kanye West as he unapologetically voiced his support for Donald Trump and made some highly controversial statements. 

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Kanye originally made his stance on the President known in 2016, when he expressed his support for Donald Trump during his San Pablo tour. He was later seen visiting with Trump at Trump Tower. Although West originally claimed he did not vote in 2016, he has since been very forward regarding his fondness for Trump and support of many of Trump’s policies. Kanye also tweeted praise towards Candace Owens, a black conservative figure known for frequently criticizing the Black Lives Matter movement and those who protest racial injustice. Many of Kanye’s fans and fellow musicians were shocked and saddened to hear Kanye voice his support for Trump, especially because Trump has a long and painful history of racism, especially towards African Americans. West’s support for Trump seemed uncharacteristic, especially because Kanye had previously been seen as an icon and advocate for African Americans. Some immediately called West’s mental health into question, pointing out that he had been hospitalized in 2016 for serious issues regarding his mental health following other seemingly bizarre acts. However, both West and his family have been quick to defend West’s mental health and insist that his political views are unrelated to his personal struggles.

Kanye’s political views are once again in the spotlight following his appearance on Saturday Night Live and a series of controversial statements and Tweets. On September 29th during the 44th season premiere of Saturday Night Live, West, who was serving as musical guest, gave an unscripted and unplanned pro-Trump speech on set following the TV broadcast. This rant contained several controversial statements including: “There’s so many times I talked to a white person about this and they’re like, ‘How can you like Trump, he’s racist?’ Well, if I was concerned about racism I would have moved out of America a long time ago.” Chris Rock was in the audience and filmed the speech, which he later uploaded to Twitter (you can watch it here: https://t.co/yObaal85CA). The video shows several uncomfortable cast members and audible “boos” from the audience. Following the performance, West published several controversial Tweets, including one calling for the abolishment of the 13th Amendment, which ended slavery in the United States. Kanye has since argued that he meant to write “amend”, but many question his motives after he called slavery a choice in an earlier Tweet.

Many celebrities, including John Legend, Lana Del Rey and Chris Pine, have heavily criticized Kanye and his support of Donald Trump, arguing that Kanye is coming from a place of great privilege and ignorance and that his actions are betraying many of his fans who are hurt and displaced by Trump’s policies and beliefs. SNL’s Pete Davidson appeared on the October 6th episode of SNL sporting a “Make Kanye 2006 Again” hat and voicing his disproval of Mr. West’s recently expressed political stances. Kanye has since deleted both his Instagram and Twitter accounts and is scheduled to meet with Mr. Trump at the White House later this year.

Freedom of speech is a central tenet of American values. Kanye West has the absolute right to voice his political opinions, but it is clear that both his fans and fellow artists will not sit quietly while he supports harmful politics and a president known for racist, sexist, and other insensitive comments and beliefs.  

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