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Credit: Alice Heyeh

What Trump’s senior White House staff lacks in diversity, they try to make up for in ill-advised flair. Kanye West, controversial and hugely famous rapper, is just another transparent token for Trump to effectively collect and distribute as ammunition into an already-inundated public. The backlash that accompanies their “friendship” continues to crush Kanye in streams of Twitter rants and headlines, flattening his character into ironic quotes and leaving fans, like myself, bewildered. How can the man who said, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people," now be the same man defending a president who calls black dissenters to his racist principles people with “Low IQs?” Because Trump is using Kanye as a shield — that’s why.

In their most recent meeting, which was announced as a discussion on prison sentencing reform, Trump filled his office with the press, putting Kanye on display. Following the, dare I say, unsuccessful meeting, were headlines from sources such as The New York Times, which reported, “Kanye West’s White House Rant Steal’s Trump’s Spotlight.” 

Wasn’t that the point though? With the internet alight about Kanye’s incoherent support, the real issue of sentencing reform is swept under a dirty rug Trump continues to wipe his feet on and ignore. Held accountable is Kanye: an influential pop cultural icon, but not a politician, and not someone with any true power over sentencing reform. The callousness with which Trump uses Kanye as a token of black support as he continues to push for stricter sentencing reform that impact many black Americans is the true story, not Kanye’s unfortunate excuse for a motivational address.

Omarosa Manigault Newman, the ex-director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison and an assistant to the president was the only African American in a senior White House role until she left the table last December. The lack of black leadership in his White House calls into question Trump’s motivation to harness Kanye’s support, seeing as he doesn’t do the same with opinions from black politicians. Kanye is a weapon wielded by Trump, and reports detailing Kanye’s spectacular rambling fail to report the crux of the issue and miss the truly devastating power we are allotting Trump to misuse. 

Yes, Kanye West is an adult who should be held accountable for his words, opinions, and actions, but the press needs to hold Trump accountable for the same things — not slot all the blame into the token that Trump has made Kanye into. 

Why are we supposed to believe that the man who proposed giving drug dealers the death penalty just a few months ago suddenly needs to speak with Kanye West about sentencing reform? His claim of ignorance concerning the subject may be true, but not in the vein he is trying to sell us. 

As someone who can’t go to a single frat party without hearing at least one Kanye song, I am concerned about supporting him and his music, for multiple reasons. I don’t stand with many of the controversial opinions he has spewed over the past few months, but I also don’t want to support a man who is so bitterly being used as a media pawn. Trump’s specialty is creating spectacles, and he’s finally found someone to bear the weight of the media monsoon while worsening a problem he’s supposedly championing. Let’s play the blame game; and the blame always seems to fall with the one holding the Trump card. 

SOPHIA DUROSE is a College sophomore from Orlando, Fla. studying English. Her email is sdurose@sas.upenn.edu.

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