Kanye West Is Still Deplorable — and So Is Defending Him
Photo: Marc Piasecki/Getty Images

Kanye West Is Still Deplorable — and So Is Defending Him

Remind me again which of Jesus’ teachings…

Let’s just say it: I am almost certain that if given the opportunity, Jesus Christ would slap the shit out of Kanye West.

Jesus liked peace, but the brown bombshell also knew how to crack that whip against a false prophet — and when it comes to false prophets, one of the best to do it is currently spending his days playing avant-garde Kirk Franklin and creating what he sees as “a paradigm shift for humanity.”

So if Jesus wouldn’t fuck with Wyoming’s newest megalomaniac, I wonder why so many of you continue to.

I hear some of y’all say the songs slap, but I still bet Jesus the Christ would pop off on Kanye West if he spotted him on God’s premises. He’d probably set Yeezus’ merchandise on fire, too. Jesus knows the markup on those sandals and sheepskin-looking blouses, and I can’t imagine him appreciating those price points even in last year’s economy.

So let me ask a different question: Which song on ‘Jesus Is King’ would inspire the children Trump has locked in cages?

What kind of Christian loves Donald Trump? I’m not talking White evangelicals here — avowals of peace and love tend to ring hollow when you vote like a Klansman. No, I’m asking the same question most of you should be asking about Kanye West and your streams of his holy-holy-holy hypocrisy — especially now that Kanye West is professing his love of Trump again.

“I’m definitely voting this time,” West says in the latest issue of GQ. “And we know who I’m voting on. And I’m not going to be told by the people around me and the people that have their agenda that my career is going to be over. Because guess what: I’m still here!” After all, he adds, Jesus Is King, which he released a year after his highly publicized Oval Office visit, “was number one!”

So let me ask a different question: Which song on that album would inspire the children Trump has locked in cages?

Now, granted, I’m not sanctified or a theologian or anything. Outside of funerals, I’ve gone to church a whooping two or three times since my twenties. Still, between age first second to 18, Jesus’ love was driven into my skull. (I did recently watch The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel on Lifetime with your mama and them, which resulted in me constantly streaming “Balm in Gilead” in the days since; love you, Karen Clark Sheard.) Point is, I know Jesus — or at least, I know Jesus well enough. And from what I recall, Kanye West poses in polar opposites of where Jesus Christ stands more humbly.

Kanye West is a Black man in pursuit of the privilege afforded to rich White men — and like many self-loathing Blacks who don’t read, a gaudy version of wealth and success like Donald Trump is his hero. I can accept this about Kanye West. I have long let go of the Kanye West I once saw on the yard at Howard University in a backpack, the Kanye West that I stood in awe of. I’ve long accepted that the version of Kanye West I used to love was a mirage.

In fact, when asked about his infamous comment “George Bush doesn’t care about Black people” and how he could wear Donald Trump’s stupid red hat, Kanye answered,“The media puts musicians, artists, celebrities, actors in a position to be the face of the race, that really don’t have any power and really are just working for White people. When it’s said like that, it’s kind of obvious, right? We emotionally connect to someone of our color on TV and feel that this person is speaking for us. Let me say this: I am the founder of a $4 billion organization, one of the most Google-searched brands on the planet, and I will not be told who I’m gonna vote on because of my color.”

To be fair, Kanye West inserted himself into the conversation way back then, and through the years, talked about racism frequently — but almost exclusively in the context of how it affected him professionally. In other words, he wanted to seem like he cared about the struggle when it suited him, and like many a selfish man, pretended to be above such worries. How convenient for Kanye that that came around the same time he got the White woman of his dreams, got the access to capital he needed, and buddied up with a man who wanted to become president solely to get back at the first Black president for hurting his feelings.

That is the real Kanye West: someone who defends racists and trivializes racism, all under the guise of the same sort of ego-driven “free thinking” that makes me pray to God that stupidity isn’t contagious.

I’ve chronicled his decline for long enough to understand that, but what I don’t understand is how Black folks continue to justify supporting him. Maybe it’s the out of sight, out of mind approach: When you listen to Sunday Service, you can rationalize it by saying you’re listening to gospel.

I get it. I know someone who sings in West’s choir, and I’d never question that person’s sincerity. But their good heart doesn’t mean the art isn’t tainted.

For some reason, Kanye West’s Trumpophilia hasn’t come back to bite him the way it has for Stacey Dash. Or Tina Campbell of Mary Mary. Or Chrisette Michele, who claimed her agreement to perform at Trump’s inauguration was meant to be a “bridge” between ideologies but later said it “derailed” her career. (To be fair, her decline started around R&B Diva, but for argument’s sake, sure.) And none of those women went even remotely near the fuckery that is Kanye praising Trump for his “dragon energy.”

The obvious retort is that West produces better work than the likes of Stacey Dash, who never quite recovered after leaving Single Ladies. But if the point is we shouldn’t support folks who support a bigot, shouldn’t Kanye West supporting an evil asshole discount his work?

Once the Kanyettes get a hold of this essay, they will ask for the millionth time why don’t I just “ignore” Kanye West. As lovely a thought as that is, I can’t always ignore what I don’t like — and especially when a Black man of Kanye West’s stature not only gets in bed with a demagogue, but tries to tie it to his spiritual journey.

I may not be at church every week anymore, but I still like Jesus — and I know he deserves better than yet another charlatan using his name in vain.