Hip Hop Abandons Trump When He Can Do the Most for Black America

There’s a radio station in Detroit that now refuses to play music by Kanye West. A DJ at another station recently announced “[t]he Kanye boycott has begun.”

It’s not because of the quality of West’s music. It’s due to the statements he’s made in his support of President Donald Trump.

It made Project 21 member Derrick Hollie wonder. In a new commentary published by Medium, Hollie – who is also the president of the group Reaching America – asked: “At what point did Trump become such a villain, and the blame for everything and everyone’s problem[s]?”

After all, as Derrick pointed out, the hip hop community – and prominent blacks, generally – were supporters of Donald Trump before his run for the White House. Favorable references to the future commander-in-chief can be found in the lyrics of songs probably never performed anymore by Jay Z, Ice Cube, Lil’ Kim and Nicki Minaj. An analysis of over 25 years of hip hop songs conducted by FiveThirtyEight considered 60 percent of Trump-related lyrics to be positive and only 13 percent negative.

Derrick posited: “So something besides just ideological difference has to be going on here, right?” Maybe, but it still poses a conundrum.

In West’s new song “Ye vs. The People,” in which he and T.I. engage in a political debate/rap battle, West, says “the problem with this damn nation… [is] we ain’t made it off the plantation.” In a recent interview with TMZ, West spoke to the claim that American blacks are suffering from 400 years of slavery [a premise that ignores the 13th Amendment] in which he said “[t]hat sounds like a choice.”

That’s the line that gets repeated. That’s the line being used to justify taking his music off the air. In the same interview, however, West engaged in some rhetorical judo to call any modern allegations of slavery in America to actually being “mentally in prison.” He continued: “I like the word prison because slavery goes direct to the idea of blacks… [P]rison is something that [cross-culturally] unites us… That we’re with the human race.”

It was hardly, as it was portrayed, West callously saying “get over it.” And Derrick pointed out in his commentary that “I do believe many of the policy priorities so strongly supported by the left do more to keep people poor than they do to lift them out of poverty.”

Hence, any willful ignorance of way the world works to prop up a political establishment actually is a kind of mental prison.

TMZ staffer Van Lathan tried to call out West after the interview, saying: “While you are making music and being an artist and living the life that you’ve earned by being a genius, the rest of us in society have to deal with these threats to our lives. We have to deal with the marginalization that has come from the 400 years of slavery that you said for our people was a choice.”

It doesn’t have to be that way. That is what West seemed to mean in his interview. And demonizing the Trump Administration is not going to change a status quo established by the political left that has caused much of the marginalization Lathan decried. Derrick wrote:

It’s hard to argue against policies that will reduce energy poverty for black and minority communities, or to defend why you dislike Betsy DeVos and K-12 education policy under this Administration promoting school choice when your child attends private school. Opportunities to pursue the American Dream without worrying that an occupational license scheme will keep you from starting your own business have become a cornerstone of [conservative] policy, and the opportunity to receive justice under the law and take mental health into consideration is getting more and more attention every day.

Derrick noted: “These are policy priorities of the Trump Administration and issues I was in favor of long before Trump became a candidate.”

He added:

I’ve also been a small business owner under Presidents Bush, Obama, and Trump. These and other experiences have allowed me to see life through a different lens.

…That’s why I believe in opportunity over handouts, and empowerment over entitlements.

When it comes down to it, it’s about opportunity, and that’s something we should all get behind. However, like many other blacks who have spoken out in support of the Trump Administration, I’ve been called names, lost friends, and gotten all sorts of clapback because I see things differently.

I’m a husband and father whose children are taught to respect everyone’s point of view even if you don’t agree, but more and more those who don’t follow the narrow box built for us by the left are written off as crazy.

To read Derrick’s commentary – “Kanye Isn’t the Only Black Supporting Trump: Here’s Why” – in its entirety, click here.

The plantation, mental prison or slavery – following the status quo isn’t the path to salvation. A new course must be charted. New policies considered. New plans formulated.

That’s what West seems to be saying. It’s what Derrick is saying. And it’s what Project 21 is doing with its “Blueprint for a Better Deal for Black America.” New ideas to change longstanding problems.

Why is wanting to try something new a reason for ostracism?

Project 21, a leading voice of black conservatives for over 25 years, is sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research. Its members have been quoted, interviewed or published over 40,000 times since the program was created in 1992. Contributions to the National Center are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated, and may be earmarked exclusively for the use of Project 21.