Does Kanye deserve all the criticism from his stint in the Oval Office?

Will McCracken

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By Will McCracken

Unpredictable is one way to describe the relationship that has developed between Donald Trump and Kanye West over the last year. Two weeks ago, Kanye West met with President Trump in the Oval Office to discuss a range of topics from prison reform, to the notorious MAGA hats, to bringing jobs to the city of Chicago.

Many people dismiss Kanye’s actions surrounding the Trump administration as a joke; however, I see this as unlikely given his history of being outspoken. Furthermore, the assertion that Kanye’s support of Donald Trump is only a joke is a sad attempt at discrediting him.

The conversation was relatively tame given its two participants: Trump, who is widely known for his often vulgar statements, and Kanye who once stormed the stage at the Video Music Awards to proclaim to the audience that Taylor Swift did not deserve her award. To be clear, I am a fan of Kanye. Naturally, I am going to be more receptive to his ideas. Before I get into the matters of the discussion, and the takeaways from the event, I need to address Kanye’s controversial words on the 13th Amendment. Kanye stated to TMZ that he misspoke by saying to abolish the 13th Amendment, and instead should have said to amend the 13th Amendment. He went on to

During the conversation, it is clear that Kanye’s biggest concerns were for his hometown of Chicago. Kanye consistently spoke on how he feels there need to be serious reforms on public attitudes as well as the procedures being used to police. Kanye mentioned how he felt that the policing procedure of “stop and frisk” was potentially having negative impacts between police-citizen relations. Trump then let Kanye know that despite disagreeing he was open-minded and his views could change.

The discussion was not especially crazy. Footage shows that Kanye is just discussing with the president his concerns and how he feels they should be addressed. This to me leaves a very positive message: Trump is willing to meet with people who have a very different background from him and discuss the issues that are important to them. This is exactly what we, as constituents, should want as well as expect from our leaders. But instead, many have chosen to further villainize Kanye for even meeting with Trump.

Feeding the attitude that any opposing political view from your own is a direct attack is harmful, yet very much present in modern times. As a person with views very much in contrast to those of Trump, I still feel we should attempt to have a civil discourse and allow for people to disagree with us. During their meeting, Kanye and Trump represented something much bigger than the actual discussion: There is value in working together.

The image of Kanye as a Trump supporter enables us to dehumanize him, rather than trying to understand him and why he feels Trump is a good representative for our country. Many feel it is appropriate to verbally attack him based on his race in order to delegitimize his feelings. In a remarkably unsettling segment on CNN, Bakari Sellers described Kanye West as the “token negr* of the Trump administration.” Sellers later described Kanye West as “what happens when negr*** don’t read.” Rather than confronting Seller’s statements as unacceptable and incredibly out of bounds, CNN host Don Lemon laughed in a friendly manner along with Sellers.

We cannot allow our differences to enable the regressive and downright racist attacks that some are seemingly ok with.