As Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, Black people all over the country watched – horrified at the lack of government response, particularly the slow response from then-President Bush. We sat, glued to our televisions as news stations broadcast the damage to the city and the despair of the people of New Orleans to the world. The government’s inaction spoke clearly – our government did not care about the poor Black people of New Orleans. While watching the televised benefit, Concert for Katrina, our thoughts were articulated on the world stage when Kanye West went off-script and said “George Bush doesn’t care about Black people.”
Fast-forward eleven years and the Kanye West who once defiantly and passionately proclaimed “George Bush doesn’t care about Black people,” with his hair dyed blonde, held a sit down meeting with President-elect Donald Trump. President-elect Trump who unapologetically encouraged hate, fear, and divisiveness throughout the Presidential election and continues to promote fear as he prepares to take office.
Kanye West no longer sees himself as one of “us.”
The meeting between Kanye West and President-elect Trump has left many wondering what has caused West’s transformation from an outspoken artist who at one-time was willing to challenge our government to do better by Black people, to now, seeking the acceptance of one of the most divisive figures in modern politics? While we may never know for sure what is behind West’s transformation, we do know that the Kanye West of 2005 has been replaced, and we are now seemingly Keeping Up with Kanye Kardashian. Like the other Kardashians, Kanye has become focused on fashion, twitter and twitter beefs, likes, and mainstream popularity.
Having built a career through the support of Black hip-hop fans, Kanye West did exactly as his 2005 hit Gold Digger predicted – he got on and then left our asses. West is no longer concerned with the plight of Black people, instead he is seemingly consumed by fame, money, and status. Kanye West no longer sees himself as one of “us” – he no longer identifies with being Black (see blonde hair), and poor or a college dropout (West received an honorary degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago). Considering West’s detachment from all things Black, his meeting with President-elect Trump should not surprise us because Kanye West now sees himself as one of “them” – wealthy, privileged, and white.