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Monday, November 19, 2018

Columns

On Steve Harvey and Kanye West visiting Trump


Meetings between Donald Trump and black celebrities have left members of the black community scratching their heads. Graphic by Corey Sherrard.

At the beginning of January, Kanye West and Steve Harvey both visited Trump Towers to speak with Donald Trump. Without any context of what the conversation was exactly over, the media ate it up and the all of Black Twitter was outraged.

From the outside looking in, many were confused and some even annoyed about the backlash given to these two celebrities. However, this act of a perceived passing of an olive branch cut deeper than the surface. Both connotation and symbolism play equal roles.

Kanye West is an important figure in black culture as well as a pop culture icon. He is the loudest and most visible figure that is a beacon for the complexity of the black archetype. Showing that you can like theatre, music, anime, fashion, and still be black. For many black kids growing up in the last two decades, West was the first role model we were conscious of. His lyrics spoke of things that we could not only relate to but also saw and experienced everyday.

In his song “So Appalled, West said, “ Donald Trump taking dollars from y’all.” In 2005, he made headlines saying, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people,” and in 2009, famously stormed the stage as Taylor Swift was accepting her award at the Video Music Awards. 

All of these actions led to  discussions about barber shops, beauty salons, corner stores, city buses and under-funded public schools. It was a chance to hear our voice. Not only to hear, but to know that people listened. West was something that we could hold on to.

After the meeting with Trump, it was confusing and inherently hypocritical. Not only was the meeting out of the blue, but it also left us out of the loop. Without an update or debriefing as to what happened, it all seemed like a posh publicity stunt.

As for Steve Harvey, he is an equally prominent black figure who serves a different demographic of the black people. He is a part of an older, more reserved set of people. He is also hot or cold among black youth. With his rejection to hip hop and his skeptical rhetoric towards the yout,h he’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but that still does not make him an outcast. However, his visit with Donald Trump may have been the final nail on the coffin for some of his fans and audience.

The hurt wasn’t as strong with him because in some instances, it only solidified people’s perceptions of him.

On the surface, it seems that black people are mad about the meetings with the president when that’s not the entire case. Looking back on the events, the similarities and the cognitive whiplashes are what cause the problems. Number one being that we do not know in full what these conversations are about.

Secondly, Trump has never spoken on these meetings and it was always up to the guest to say some surface level comment like “ it was a great meeting” or “Trump is a good man.” Lastly, it is another instance of the oppressed having to be the bigger person. We are always the ones that have to extend arms and still, it is to no avail.

If Trump wants to help like West and Harvey say he does, I’d like to see him step out of his towers. I’d like to see him step into the communities and neighborhoods of people that West speaks on behalf of.

But even if you stand next them, you will never be them.

Opinion columnist Dana Jones is a print journalism junior and can be reached at [email protected]

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