Earl Ofari Hutchinson
Kanye West has now officially replaced Omarosa, and maybe even Clarence Thomas, as the man that blacks absolutely love to hate. At first glance, West has worked especially hard to earn the torrents of abuse heaped on him capped by not one but two meetings with Trump. And then piling on by spouting a string of barely comprehensible idiocies about Trump and anything else that comes to mind. All the while sporting, even bragging, about his fetish for Trump’s MAGA hats.
Yet West is hardly the only prominent black to meet with Trump before, during and after the campaign and his election. In fact, the parade of black preachers, businesspersons, professionals, athletes and entertainers that have either trooped to Trump Tower and now the White House or met with him in highly staged and orchestrated venues, has been nothing short of breath taking. Breath taking, because Trump ran the most vicious, unabashed, race baiting, Muslim, and immigrant baiting campaign since state’s rights Alabama governor George Wallace in 1964.
In the minstrel like little theater act, West and Trump staged, West actually did manage to say a few things that made some sense. The checklist included his rip of police stop and frisk, the devastating affect on black communities of cutting mental health services, and joblessness on black youth, the tearing apart of black families. Then there was his and wife Kim’s pet peeve; namely, the racial disparities in the criminal justice system. Here’s the rub about West saying these things to Trump’s face.
Trump wouldn’t listen to a word of this coming from any civil rights organization, black Democrats, or any other black not named West or Jim Brown. Here’s the bigger rub. Everything that West said, Trump has been lambasted relentlessly on by civil rights organizations.
This points to the problem, actually two problems, that galls blacks. It’s that Trump will meet with blacks such as West. The other problem is that blacks such as West will meet with him. West and the parade of blacks that have met with Trump make the case that he is the president and that it is foolhardy to do the Ostrich head in the sand routine and deny this brutal reality. They say that there are millions in contracts, business and professional opportunities, administration appointments, vital federal job, education, health and civil rights protection programs at stake with the Trump administration. There’s simply no way to ignore that. There’s an unarguable point to that. Trump will be at the federal helm for at least two more years and that’s a lot of time for him to wreak even more irreparable damage to those programs.
So, West being in the White House didn’t do much harm since he’s already been tagged as anything from a cheap two-bit ego maniacal hustler to a guy that’s one med away from the loony house. Whether he ever set foot in the White House or not, Trump will continue to make the deranged boast that he’s the best thing that’s happened to blacks since Abe Lincoln.
As it now stands, the record of the second go round West meeting with Trump is that it got him a few minutes face time on the news. For Trump, it got a chance to boast again that there are a lot of blacks that like him.
But there’s more. The dangling question is why any of this should really matter to those blacks that already think West and Trump are trash and that nothing either one says or does could even remotely aid them. There are two reasons. Trump and West are both creations of a celebrity, gossip, vapid personality driven media. Everyone of West’s inane comments, slavery not a bad thing, the 13th amendment needs to be looked at again, forget studying play basketball, just to name a few, are instantly plastered over headline news as if they are words from the mountaintop. Just as predictably the tongues furiously start wagging over them.
This has given West a perverse, backdoor credibility that no amount of intelligible, discourse on the issues could ever net him. So, why not run with it? He knows he’s instant news, and Trump knows that too. However, that still doesn’t mean in between the silliness and media and public ogling of him that even he could manage to come up with something that made sense on racial problems. And best, or worst, of all Trump would actually sit there for what amounted to an eternity of time in the White House for him and listen to West spout his disjointed views on the issues of the day. In the end it was great fun and theater for both, but other than that the worst that can be said is what exactly did West say or do that was so bad?
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is the author of WhyBlack Lives Do Matter (Middle Passage Press). He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on Radio One. He is the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles and the Pacifica Network.