David: The long-awaited downfall of Kanye West

Loretta David, Columnist

It seems society has finally reached its breaking point with rapper Kanye West. It should’ve happened sooner.

West has recently come under fire for making several antisemitic comments in an interview and on Twitter. The action against him was swift. Within days, several brands cut ties with him completely. Many Hollywood stars, including his ex-wife Kim Kardashian, spoke out against antisemitism shortly after his remarks went public. His net worth tanked due to the loss of revenue from all of his brand deals. West had finally experienced his fall from grace.

However, where was this outrage when West made anti-Black statements? In case you need a reminder, in the last few years West has worn a “White Lives Matter” shirt, suggested that slavery was a choice, proclaimed that Harriet Tubman never freed slaves, called racism a “dated” concept, sold merchandise that contained the image of a Confederate flag and spread false claims about George Floyd’s death.

Time after time, West’s career never faltered. Instead, he was called a creative genius, a music mogul and a trendsetter. His music received critical acclaim. His clothing line was selling out at stores across America. His career was never affected by his anti-Blackness. It was bolstered by it.

Each time West used his platform to degrade Black people, he was rewarded with publicity. But while those he worked with knew him as antisemitic, it wasn’t until he made several public antisemitic remarks that brands started dropping him. Fox News even made sure to cut out the segment containing West’s antisemitic remarks, all while keeping in the portions of him explaining why he wore a “White Lives Matter” shirt. Because even they knew West had gone too far.

In Adidas’ statement regarding its decision to end its multi-billion dollar deal with West, the company said it does not tolerate “antisemitism and any other sort of hate speech.” Adidas certainly tolerated West when he said that racism was a “dated” concept.

In a similar statement, Gap stated that “Antisemitism, racism and hate in any form are inexcusable and not tolerated in accordance with our values.” Was West not being hateful when he disrespected the legacy of Harriet Tubman by proclaiming she never actually freed slaves?

If you go through the language of all the brand statements, you get a clear picture: these brands do not actually care about antisemitism, the Jewish community or hate speech. All they care about is protecting their brand images and sources of revenue. West’s antisemitism only matters to them when it’s displayed publicly.

A former employee of West recently revealed that he idolizes Adolf Hitler. West’s fascination with Hitler was swept under the rug and enabled by business executives and those close to him. If they actually cared about protecting Jewish people, they would have dropped West the first time he showed hate to any marginalized community. But they didn’t.

After all, West only felt comfortable enough to make his antisemitic remarks because he got away with being anti-Black for so long. Shortly before being dropped by Adidas, West confidently proclaimed that Adidas wouldn’t be able to drop him if he made antisemitic comments.

When the last few years of your career have been bolstered by spreading harmful anti-Black rhetoric, hate speech becomes a reward. West’s anti-Blackness was overlooked because corporations value money over Black lives. 

West thought the usual would happen when he made his antisemitic remarks: there would be some form of outrage, his name would trend on Twitter for a while, and then people would go back to streaming “The College Dropout.” Except, that didn’t happen this time.

West is finally experiencing the consequences of his actions. But it shouldn’t have taken West threatening violence against Jewish people for him to be held accountable. Using his platform to demean and belittle Black people should have been enough.

Loretta David is a Weinberg sophomore. She can be contacted at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this op-ed, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected]. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.