Hip-hop artist Kanye West ventured back into the conservative spotlight when he got political during a recent performance. The rapper and fashion designer held a concert in Salt Lake City, UT, in which he once again voiced his support for President Trump. The show was part of his Sunday Service tour, during which he has held shows each week in different cities across the nation.
The rapper is well-known for his support of President Donald Trump and perhaps more so for the backlash he endured from the left when he went public with his opinion. Last year, West announced that he would take a step back from politics for a period of time, but now it seems that he has dipped his toe back into the waters of controversy. But while West may have escaped the standard ideology that his colleagues in the entertainment industry refuse to question, he could be falling into the clichéd beliefs many conservatives hold when it comes to understanding black Americans.
Kanye West Defends Trump Support
After performing his hit song “Jesus Walks,” the musician addressed the audience. “They try to tell me because of my color who I’m supposed to pick as the president,” he said. “‘You’re black, so you can’t like Trump.’ I ain’t never made a decision only based off my color. That’s a form of slavery, mental slavery.”
“All these mind controllers, the media, all of these mind controllers. I find that wherever Christ is where I’ve got my mind at. We find that the love of Christ is where I’ve got my mind back.”
West also paid homage to President Abraham Lincoln and the Republican Party, acknowledging that they “freed the slaves.”
Mental Slavery? Or Something More?
Last year, West made a huge splash on the political and hip-hop scenes when he publicly announced that he supports President Trump. At that moment, the rapper captured the attention of the American public, but the reaction to his announcement fell along party lines: Democrats lost their collective minds, and their punditry class attempted to attribute his actions to mental illness. Trump supporters cheered West’s announcement, happy to finally have a celebrity who seems to share their views.
Later, after a falling out with right-wing pundit Candace Owens, West stated that he “felt used,” and was stepping away from politics. He made it clear, however, that he was not rescinding his support of President Trump, and he reiterated this during the concert at which he recently returned to political commentary.
But West’s statements, while intended for positivity, may have inadvertently perpetuated a stereotype dangerous to a conservative movement that wishes to earn the support of black voters. This faulty belief can be classified as the “mental slavery” trope. For decades, right-leaning commentators have claimed that the vast majority of black Americans vote for the Democratic Party due to some type of mental slavery to which the left has supposedly subjected them. This misconception is the foundation of the ultimately ineffective “Democratic plantation” metaphor that has been bandied about for decades. If the conservative movement truly wishes to earn the support of black voters, it must dig deeper. It should adopt a more nuanced and honest take on the reasons why 90% of black voters routinely reject the Republican Party. It has nothing to do with mental slavery, and everything to do with the lack of an alternative.
Who Shows Up?
The bottom line is this: Blacks vote for the Democrats because they belong to the only party that shows up and speaks to black voters in person at the local, state, and federal levels. Every objection that blacks have to the Republican Party can be traced to its failure to put boots on the ground in inner cities.
By now, you might be thinking, “But blacks have been misled! They think the GOP is racist!” You would be right. But the Republican Party’s refusal to maintain a relationship with black America has only lent credibility to the lies of the hard left. Let’s use a hypothetical. If a black person is acquainted with a white person and has built at least somewhat of a relationship, then it’s clear the black person does not believe his white acquaintance to be a racist. Why? Because they know each other. So, if some outsider tells the black person that his white acquaintance is racist, the black individual knows he is being lied to because he has experienced his white friend firsthand. The Republican Party has eschewed this type of relationship since the 1960s. Instead, it chose to target primarily white voters in rural and suburban regions. This withdrawal created a vacuum, one which the Democrats gladly filled without even a modicum of opposition. In light of this fact, it is not difficult to see how easy it was for the left to convince black voters the GOP is racist; the conservative party didn’t bother to show up and defend itself and continues to neglect black voters to this day.
Pretty much everyone on the right would love to see more minorities within their ranks. But this cannot happen if there is no willingness to think outside of the normal talking points to which conservatives are exposed on a regular basis. Instead of just assuming that blacks are mental slaves, it might be a better idea to approach them like fellow Americans who think for themselves. Only a true mutual understanding can lead to trust, and the GOP has much to do if it hopes to earn back the trust of black America.
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