There are people so dedicated to infantilizing Kanye West, a 40-year-old man. When they aren’t making every ridiculous excuse imaginable for his political beliefs, I wonder if they are preparing bottles of Enfamil on his behalf.
Of all the hypotheses about his recent Twitter storm, one of the more troubling ones was the inference that West’s political ideology should be attributed to his mental health. This is an argument that has been made on talk shows like The Wendy Williams Show, and naturally, on social media, home to many self-appointed Frasier Cranes. While some may have been well intentioned in vocalizing their concerns over West’s state of mind, to speculate about someone’s mental health is as lazy as it is dangerous. There are plenty of people dealing with mental illness who don’t attach themselves to racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic wannabe authoritarians.
It’s a point West’s wife, Kim Kardashian West, made on Twitter on Wednesday as she defended her husband from insinuations about his mental health.
Yes, some of her logic is flawed. Kim calls Kanye a “free thinker,” but that is not synonymous with being an uninformed nitwit who supports a white supremacist. She also said he is not in the “sunken place.” And well, if you disagree with the chorus on that point, just dance off-beat around it and go about your business. Despite these missteps in the thread, her main point is clear: Do not attribute mental health issues to someone with differing political beliefs.
Kim also stated that she doesn’t align with Kanye’s political beliefs. Kim may be vapid, shallow and narcissistic at times, but she is no fool. She is all too aware that being aligned with Trump is not smart business acumen — certainly not for a woman with product to move to a largely female consumer base. Kim defending her husband makes sense because they are married, but it did tickle me because it reminded me that for all the talk about Kim Kardashian and her reality-star family potentially damaging Kanye West’s brand, he’s proven to be more of a liability to her than she has to him.
And what’s been incredibly frustrating to witness is some people’s assertions that she is somehow responsible for his tilt to the so-called “alt-right.”
On Monday, New York City radio station Hot 97 host Ebro Darden discussed his initial phone conversation with West about tweets that assert his love of Trump. During that discussion, one of his co-hosts, Laura Stylez, spoke of West’s detachment from real-world issues, due to his wealth and association with the Kardashian family. Being rich and detached doesn’t mean you have to be uninformed. Trump’s racism was well-established long before Kanye West became a famous and well-off celebrity.
Yet, Kim Kardashian, who grew up rich and has always been around famous people, voted for Hillary Clinton. In a 2016 blog post entitled “I’m With Her,” Kardashian said, with respect to supporting Clinton’s candidacy, “I thought about the things that are so important to me that they outweigh everything else, such as gun control and protecting women’s rights to safe and legal abortion.” A year earlier, she tweeted about Sandra Bland, who died in police custody in Waller County, Texas, in 2015: “#WhatHappenedToSandraBland We need answers!!! This is NOT ok! This is all shady! They need to own up to this & tell the truth!”
A year before that, she shared the experience of her daughter North West being subjected to a racist attack on a plane. This does not make her Almond Milk Angela Davis in “Bo Derek braids.” Kim has still made mistakes like defending singer-songwriter and makeup artist Jeffree Star after video of him making racist remarks resurfaced (she later apologized). But, while some are skeptical of Kim’s motives in talking about race, the fact is, whether you believe her intentions are sincere, Kim Kardashian has spoken more about racism in recent years than Kanye West has.
Maybe it took her having black children to force her to contemplate what life may be like for folks outside of her pampered bubble, but Kanye West has been black his whole damn life and he chooses to stand with a bigot anyway. That’s not mental health, nor is it prodding by a wife who doesn’t align with his beliefs. This is willful ignorance from a dingbat who has a history of taking up for racists.
Believe me, I am no one’s Kardashian bot, but I take issue with faulting her or a mental disease for Kanye West’s political views. It is a dangerous conflation. It is deeply sexist. It removes agency from Kanye West. It is wrong, plain and simple. If you’re mad, be mad, but place the blame squarely where it belongs: Donda’s boy.
And after that, laugh a little bit at the irony. It helps stifles the pain you might have over losing someone you once admired this way. Or so I’ve heard.