It was a long, wild day on Kanye West’s Twitter account. What began with a tweet about President Trump’s “dragon energy” led to a friendly exchange between the rapper and Trump, and soon erupted into a divisive Twitter conversation about race, identity politics and mental health.
West’s praise of Trump on Wednesday prompted a swift backlash from fans, activists and celebrities. Legions of Twitters users, particularly those in the black community, criticized him for voicing his support of a president who has hesitated to condemn white supremacists, called African nations “shithole countries” and whom many Americans consider to be racist.
But some of West’s friends and fellow musicians came to his defense, including fellow Chicago native Chance the Rapper.
“Talked to him two days ago. He’s in a great space and not affected by folk tryna question his mental or physical health,” tweeted Chance, whose birth name is Chancelor Bennett. “Black people don’t have to be democrats.”
It was a surprising tweet, in part because West hasn’t made clear his affiliation with a particular political party (he has admitted to not even voting in the last election.) But it’s noteworthy coming from Chance, who has been highly critical of the president in the past. “Trumps presidency is not the root of division or racism in this country, it’s just one of the many symptoms,” Chance tweeted last year.
Chance’s support of West naturally prompted criticism.
“No one is upset Kanye’s not a Democrat. They’re upset that he’s enabling and fanboying over a racist wannabe authoritarian who has made it his mission to separate families, discriminate against POC and LGBT people, and remove himself from criminal accountability,” responded Pete Forester, a New York-based writer.
But Chance didn’t back down.
And his support of West prompted a positive response from Donald Trump Jr., who said it’s “always incredible to watch a cultural shift happen in real time.”
West’s wife, Kim Kardashian West, also lashed out at the questions over West’s well-being and at the media coverage of his tweets.
“To the media trying to demonize my husband let me just say this … your commentary on Kanye being erratic & his tweets being disturbing is actually scary,” she tweeted. “So quick to label him as having mental health issues for just being himself when he has always been expressive is not fair.”
“He’s a free thinker, is that not allowed in America?” Kardashian added. “Now when he spoke out about Trump … Most people (including myself) have very different feelings & opinions about this. But this is HIS opinion. I believe in people being able to have their own opinions, even if really different from mine.”
Rapper Lupe Fiasco also weighed in, making clear that he thinks “Trump is a terrible human being. Period point blank,” but that he has nothing against West voicing his views.
“No ill will to Ye in any way…all things reciprocated etc..seen his trials and tribulations and can’t take anything away from his journey,” the rapper tweeted, adding, “remember this the same dude that when he speaks US Presidents respond. Don’t forget about Katrina cuz you don’t like his tweets.”
In one of his many tweets Wednesday, West posted a picture of what might be his home, asking whether it looks “like the sunken place.”
He was referring to the 2017 horror film “Get Out,” in which a white family traps black men in a hypnotic state that serves as a metaphor. “The Sunken Place means we’re marginalized,” the movie’s writer and director, Jordan Peele, explained on Twitter last year. “No matter how hard we scream, the system silences us.”
Some on social media have quipped that West is stuck in the sunken place as a member of the Kardashian family, as People pointed out.
In response to West’s tweet about the sunken place Wednesday, Peele joked that he was inspired to start writing a sequel.
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