Kanye West Gets Dragged for ‘Playing Both Sides’ After Chicago Protest

Kanye West is making waves once again. The rapper and entrepreneur recently attended protests in Chicago, but his activism fell on deaf ears for many. Because of his past comments on race, and his close relationship with President Donald Trump, West is getting dragged on social media, with many sarcastically pointing out he forgot to wear his MAGA hat to the protests.

Kanye West in MAGA Hat at the White House
Kanye West in the Oval Office of the White House in 2018 | Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Kanye West’s past controversial comments

West is a 21-time Grammy-winning recording artist with a net worth of over $1 billion. But he often ends up in the spotlight because of his controversial remarks about race. In May 2018, the rapper visited the TMZ newsroom and suggested that slavery was a choice. 

“When you hear about slavery for 400 years …For 400 years? That sounds like a choice,” West said. “You were there for 400 years and it’s all of y’all. It’s like we’re mentally imprisoned.”

Soon after, TMZ employee Van Lathan called West out for his remarks and told him how disappointing and hurtful they were. He also told the rapper, that with his platform, he needs to be more responsible. 

“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,” said Lathan. “We have to deal with the marginalization that’s come from the 400 years of slavery that you said for our people was a choice — Your voice is too big, you’ve gotta be responsible.”

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In a now-deleted tweet, West attempted to clarify his comments, writing, “Of course I know that slaves did not get shackled and put on a boat by free will. My point is for us to have stayed in that position even though the numbers were on our side means that we were mentally enslaved —  we can’t be mentally imprisoned for another 400 years. We need free thought now.”

He loved his MAGA hat

After President Trump was elected, West visited him in the White House wearing a red MAGA hat. “This hat gives me a different power in a way,” he said after giving the president a hug behind his desk. 

“It was something about when I put this hat on, it made me feel like Superman,” he continued. “You made a Superman. That’s my favorite superhero and [you] made a Superman cape for me.”

In an April 2020 interview with GQ Magazine, West responded to the criticism he faced for visiting the White House and wearing the MAGA hat, which for many people represents hate and division. He also indirectly implied he would be voting for Trump in the 2020 election.

Kanye West and President Trump
Kanye West hugs U.S. President Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in 2018 | Oliver Contreras /Pool/Getty Images

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“I am the founder of a $4 billion organization, one of the most Google-searched brands on the planet, and I will not be told who I’m gonna vote on because of my color,” he said. “I’m definitely voting this time, and we know who I’m voting on. And I’m not going to be told by the people around me and the people that have their agenda that my career is going to be over.”

Kanye West gets slammed for his presence at Chicago protests

Around the country, protests have erupted over the brutal murder of George Floyd — an unarmed black man who was killed when a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for over seven minutes. After donating $2 million to Floyd’s daughter and the families of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, West joined a Black Lives Matter rally in his hometown of Chicago.

But West’s donations and march for social justice were met with harsh criticisms. Many took to Twitter to highlight his past comments and actions. 

“Will 2M stop him from believing 400yrs slavery was a choice black people made?” one Twitter user wrote.  “A dude who sat in Oval with Trump. Kanye wore the MAGA hat. Dawg are u crazy?? We not kids. We on the frontlines getting shot & roughed up. U pull up to a protest in an SUV with bodyguards. TF!!!”

On the other hand, some West fans are insinuating that he’s been playing a long-game with the president. “The theory is that Kanye used Trump to get Kim closer to the people in power,” one Twitter user explained, “in order to get innocent black people out of prison.”

But because he was standing firm with his political affiliations as recently as April, some questioned whether or not the rapper is using the opportunity to gain recognition. One person even suggested he might be playing both sides of the divide.

“He’s playing both sides,” the Twitter user suggested. “I don’t see this as a clever trick to get someone out of prison. It’s a trick to get the black community behind him after sucking up to Trump and calling slavery a choice. I hope I am wrong, but I do not see Kanye as an ally in the new civil rights movement.”

Some fans are giving him another chance

West hasn’t addressed any of his intentions, then or now. But some are still giving him the benefit of the doubt, hopeful that he’s joining the movement for the right reasons. 

“I saw a video of Kanye protesting with the people in Chicago, and the comments are really crazy,” a Twitter user shared. “It’s like y’all were taunting this man to do something and now y’all want him to go the hell home. Which is it? I’m not necessarily going to overlook Kanye’s past comments and actions, but if the goal is to get as many people to protest and donate and petition, then I’m all for him doing that.”