The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Sunday June 26th

Column: Kanye West's self confidence reflects America's best quality


Arts & culture Sarah Vassello

I hope I’m not the one who’s breaking this to you, because the speech is incredible: During the Video Music Awards on Sunday, rapper, designer and extraordinary human Kanye West announced his presidential candidacy for the 2020 election.

Emotions are running from angry to disgusted that Kanye would even consider this a plausible option.

But Kanye might just be the candidate we need.

Art is a way to reflect the expectations and values of a society. As Arts & Entertainment Editor, I see that proved true every day as my desk covers everything from activism to healing.

No one understands this better than Kanye West, a multiple Grammy-winning artist raised by activist parents to create music that’s innovative, courageous and, most notably, important.

“Lost in translation with a whole f—in’ nation / They say I was the abomination of Obama’s nation / Well that’s a pretty bad way to start a conversation,” he says in “Power.”

Considering the headlines about police brutality and race in America, it’s pretty clear West’s lyrics show that he is speaking about racism and violence — and has been for years, at the very least since his first album, The College Dropout, was released in 2004. It speaks not only about racism, but about sexuality, self-consciousness, minimum-wage labor and materialism.

Yeah, Bernie Sanders is talking about racism, but he’s had some missteps with the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Yeah, Hillary Clinton is talking about gender inequality, but she’s accepted money from countries that allow violence against women.

What makes Kanye so compelling is that he’s incredibly honest and forthcoming — so much so that he’ll go on live television talking about the lack of artistic freedom in the music industry and the self-esteem problems the millennial generation faces.

Just imagine how he’d react to a UNC Board of Trustees member emailing Jaslina Paintal that her column on the invisibility that black women face was driving away black women from UNC? He interrupted T. Swift; I feel confident he’d say something about it.

At the end of the day, isn’t that what we all want? Someone who can cut through the red tape and just get some stuff done? To expose injustices and create a space for conversation?


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