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Chance the Rapper’s risky chance: African Americans can make a free thinking choice

Written By | Apr 29, 2018

WASHINGTON: In 2018, Kanye West took a bold stand, declaring his love for Donald Trump. For a microsecond, Chance the Rapper, stepped up to stand next to his friend and fellow artist. Unfortunately Chance the Rapper got back on the Trump Derangement Syndrome Train. Leaving Kanye to, once again stand, alone, with the 50% plus American that support the President.

In the 1960 film “Inherit the Wind,” criminal defense attorney Henry Drummond (Spencer Tracy) tells his client:

“It’s the loneliest feeling in the world – to find yourself standing up when everybody else is sitting down. To have everybody look at you and say, ‘What’s the matter with him?’… But all you have to do is knock on any door and say, ‘If you let me in, I’ll live the way you want me to live, and I’ll think the way you want me to think,’ and all the blinds’ll go up and all the windows will open, and you’ll never be lonely, ever again.”

Spencer Tracy grills a witness in the 1960 film “Inherit the Wind.”

A lonely rapper

Rapper Kanye West doesn’t seem to mind the loneliness that comes with running against the tide of left-wing popular culture. Especially after the furor that followed his friendly tweets concerning President Donald Trump.

“Freethinkers don’t fear retaliation for your thoughts. The traditional thinkers are only using thoughts and words but they are in a mental prison,” West recently tweeted.

President-elect Trump and Kanye West at Trump Tower in New York City. CBS News screen capture.

Prisoners of the mind

Not everyone, however, is happy to step free from that “mental prison.”

“I believe in free thinking,” said R&B singer Janelle Monáe during an interview on New York’s hip-hop station Hot 97, “but I don’t believe in free thinking if it’s rooted in or at the expense of the oppressed.”

Fellow rapper and son to actor Will Smith, Jaden Smith, simply tweeted,

“False Idols.”

Meanwhile, white singer-songwriter Moby, tweeted,

“Come on, Kanye, you’re too smart and talented to be @realdonaldtrump supporter. #trump is a racist and a sociopath who is ruining the country…”

Chance the Rapper at the 2017 Grammy Awards. CBS screen capture.

Bye, bye Democratic Party

But what really stuck in the craw of contemporary music’s millionaire leaders of the downtrodden was the short tweet from Kanye’s friend Chance the Rapper,

“Black people don’t have to be Democrats.”

It underscores one of the great ironies of American history: that a majority of African-Americans belong to the pro-slavery, pro-Jim Crow Democratic Party.

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., it must be remembered, was a registered Republican, and with good reason. When it came time for Congress to vote on the 1964 Civil Rights Act, 80 percent of House Republicans and 82 percent of their GOP Senate colleagues voted, “Aye.”

Congressional Democrats were less than enthusiastic.

“What the hell do you have to lose?”

During the 2016 presidential campaign, GOP candidate Donald Trump said,

“I’m asking for the vote of every single African-American citizen in this country who wants to see a better future… what the hell do you have to lose?”

Dr. Thomas Sowell discusses free speech on “The Rubin Report,” with host Dave Rubin. Screen capture.

In a piece headlined “Trump and Blacks,” conservative columnist Thomas Sowell, an African-American, wrote:

“Black voters are not the property of the NAACP, and they need to be addressed directly as individuals… No matter what policy Republicans follow, they are not going to win a majority of the black vote this year, nor perhaps even this decade… Just an erosion of the Democrats’ monopoly of the black votes can benefit both Republicans and the black community, who are currently taken for granted by the Democrats.”
Taking a Chance

And that takes us back to Chance the Rapper. The idea that blacks can exist as anything other than Democrats was, for some, beyond the pale.

That was certainly the case for The Daily Beast’s Ira Madison:

“Choosing sides is about more than political parties. It’s about whether or not you can continue to appeal to a black fan base who you preach anti-racism to while also praising political figures with very racist ideologies.”

A winning strategy in Democratic Party politics, especially in Chance’s hometown Chicago, is to fan the dying embers of past resentments. And as Madison clearly implies, that resentment can be good for business.

But Chance the Rapper’s brand of music has a decidedly pious air about it.

In fact, his 2017 Grammy Award wins for best new artist, performance and album, was something of an annoyance for Vice music critic Lawrence Burney.

Although he considered Chance’s acceptance speech “joyous,” Burney found it “difficult to watch as he laid on heavy religious overtones.”

How Great is our God

In his song “How Great,” Chance sings:

And my heart will sing how great is our God
Name above all names
Worthy of all praise
And my heart will sing how great is our God

That’s quite an evolutionary leap from rapper Esham’s chipper little number of fifteen years ago, “Ex-Girlfriend”:

I used to love her, too bad I had to put a slug through her
Dumped her body in the trash like I never knew her
Blood runnin’ down the gutter into the sewer
Her body stunk for weeks like horse manure

And the music industry’s angry millionaire enforcers of poisonous aggrievement would like the nation’s blacks to believe America is frozen in time. A continental, early 1960s Alabama, with everyone outside the group a racist Theophilus Eugene “Bull” Connor. A man who was, of course, a Democrat.

Theophilus Eugene “Bull” Conner from documentary “Segregation at All Costs: Bull Connor and the Civil Rights Movement.” Screen capture.

A non-apology apology

Chance the Rapper later issued something of a non-apology apology for his pro-Kanye West, pro-free thinker (indirectly pro-Trump) tweet:

“My statement about black folk not having to be Democrats (though true) was a deflection from the real conversation and stemmed from a personal issue with the fact that Chicago has had generations of democratic officials with no investment or regard for black schools, neighborhoods, or black lives.”

That kind of free-thinking tweeted Donald Trump Jr.,

“… goes for all intersectional groups of the left that say you HAVE to be a Democrat. That isn’t true. Be free, think for yourself.”

Yes, step out of that mental prison, take a CHANCE, and think for yourself.


Top Image: Chance the Rapper on the “Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.” Screen capture.

Steven M. Lopez

Originally from Los Angeles, Steven M. Lopez has been in the news business for more than thirty years. He made his way around the country: Arizona, the Bay Area and now resides in South Florida.