Published April 28, 2018
The biggest birthday present ever came in the form of several shocking tweets this week from one of my all-time favorite artists, Kanye West. Back on Twitter after a long break, he’s come out strongly pro-President Trump.
West is among the most acclaimed rappers of the 21st century, and is one of the best-selling artists of all time, having sold more than 100 million digital downloads and 21 million albums worldwide.
His first tweet talked about how he loves the way Turning Point’s Candace Owens thinks – a black conservative who speaks up against the victimization of black people.
People lost their minds. Black Twitter disowned West. Folks are calling him “mentally ill” and a “sellout.” And “Kanye West is Cancelled” started trending on Twitter.
Some in the media lashed out, saying West had fallen into “the sunken place” – a reference to the film “Get Out,” when a black person gets brainwashed and kidnapped by white people.
Instead of apologizing for his pro-Trump comment, like Canadian singer Shania Twain pitifully did – backtracking on her comments that she would have voted Trump if she could vote in the U.S. – Kanye West doubled down.
Making my heart sing as I’m screaming with happiness, West tweeted Wednesday: “You don’t have to agree with trump but the mob can’t make me not love him. We are both dragon energy. He is my brother. I love everyone. I don’t agree with everything anyone does. That’s what makes us individuals. And we have the right to independent thought.”
West also tweeted that “it's really cool to say I hate you. But it's not cool to say I love you. Love has a stigma” and “try telling people you love them it actually feels weird at first. We're really good at hating each other. We have to get good at loving each other.”
Can I get an amen?
I thought I was the only artist in the music industry who’d ever come out for the president so strongly, and actually I was. After proudly wearing my Trump “Make America Great Again” dress at the 2017 Grammys, I looked behind me and didn’t see any recording artists sharing the backlash I faced.
Not even the ones whose protests were well known, like Madonna “wanting to blow up” the White House. My own publicist quit after getting pounded by hate mail and copious threats to my life.
Black and Latina magazines “disowned” me. Online comments called for me to be banned from attending the Grammys. I was “cancelled” from being a woman of color. Friends, fans – and even some family – jumped ship. But it didn’t stop me. I knew more would come out.
All conservatives in the music industry have had to hide their politics, especially anyone of color. Black and left? That draws affirmation. Black and Republican? We are told to “just shut up.”
Even West’s superstar wife, Kim Kardashian spoke up for free speech, calling the attacks on him from the media and online “scary.”
“Kanye will never run in the race of popularity…he is himself,” Kardashian went on to tweet.
A brave thing for someone who’s as famous as she is, especially since she is not a Trump supporter. Yet she supports her husband’s First Amendment right to speak his mind and utilize free speech and free thought.
Why is this so shocking in 2018? It shouldn’t be.
The fact of the matter is, no matter how much vitriolic hate West gets – and oh yes, he’s getting it – he has actively changed culture. Just by speaking up boldly and bravely in the face of Hollywood’s thought police, he’s secured his icon status.
Icons shift thinking. Icons go against the grain. Icons challenge views and speak frankly, even if they are the only ones doing so.
The fact that West has come out shows that it’s OK not to vote Democratic. He’s a hardworking black man who realizes personal freedom doesn’t come from the left’s stranglehold. Maybe others will follow suit. Maybe other blacks will realize we don’t need to follow the thought police, that we can vote the way we truly want, think the way we want, and live the way they want.
West has been thinking freely for awhile as a cultural icon and artist, creating ripples and waves with whatever he does. Former President Obama once called him “a jackass.”
Well. West criticized President Obama in a tweet Wednesday, saying his fellow Chicagoan had failed to address the problems of the city during his presidency. “Obama was in office for eight years and nothing in Chicago changed,” West tweeted.
Today under President Trump, black unemployment is down and black business owners are enjoying lucrative tax cuts.
West has shattered the stereotype and myth that “all Republicans are racist.” He has challenged the music industry’s identity politics. He’s a hero to free-minded individuals of all colors.
West is a black man who has directly challenged the victim mentality that for some odd reason other black celebrities love to promote.
I’m loving everything about Kanye West’s tweets, not just because they coincide with my beliefs on freedom and free thinking and making culture great again, but because he is doing what real artists do: challenge stereotypes.
West is not afraid of the backlash. I am not afraid of the backlash. But many black Americans, Hollywood artists and other Americans are forced into this fear.
Being out as a black woman who proudly supports President Trump, I’ve faced the serious backlash, death threats, attacks by media, attacks by other celebrities, loss of fans and attacks on my character that are mounting against West now.
That’s why it’s so monumental that West stood up for what he loved – President Donald Trump and his own right to be free. That is truly what being a cultural icon is.
Joy Villa is an award-winning recording artist, political activist, and a member of American Monuments Alliance. You can find her at www.joyvilla.com.