On 18 November 2016, a clip from a Kanye West concert appeared in which he told his audience that he had not voted — but if he had, it would have been for Donald Trump. West made his remarks on stage at a show in San Jose:
I told y’all I didn’t vote, right? But if I [had] voted, I would’ve voted on Trump.
Longer versions of the commentary appeared, during which West addressed a mixed reaction from the audience:
Thank you … that’s a woman right there, saying “I love you,” after I just said that there was things that I liked about Trump’s campaign. That’s not supposed to happen, right? Case in point. I guess we’re just not gonna sell out the rest of the tour now.
West’s dialog on politics reportedly lasted a lot longer than just one sentence, and according to reports, he spoke further on the subject of racial relations:
Specifically to black people, stop focusing on racism. This world is racist, OK? Let’s stop being distracted to focus on that as much. It’s just a fucking fact. We are in a racist country, period. Do not allow people to make us talk about that so fucking long. Let’s talk about whatever the fuck you wanna talk about. Let’s stop talking about that, bro. It’s racist, OK? … And not one or the other candidate was gonna instantly be able to change that because of their views. Bottom fucking line.
The hip-hop artist then said that an increase in open racism wasn’t necessarily detrimental:
I think that Benjamin Carson should still be a consultant. I think that Hillary Clinton should still be a consultant. I think that Bill Clinton should still be a consultant. I think Obama should still be a consultant. Instead, ‘Oh, I don’t fuck with your principles, so now I’m not gonna give you no information that can help you help all of us.”
I’m not saying this to diss celebrities at all, particularly on the democratic side—that’s cool. I just hate the fact that because I’m a celebrity, everybody told me not to say that I loved the debates. I loved [Trump’s] approach. It be like, white people that’s racist, running around saying nigga now. If people are racist and they feel more inspired to say how they feel, then they’re exposing themselves, bro. This is what I’m saying. It’s already the beginning of change. Sometimes things that you might think are bad need to happen, in order for change to fucking happen. Sometimes you might have to not get your way to really understand what to do in the future, to be able to get your way.
West’s political diatribe in 2016 was not the first time his words or actions intersected with the Oval Office. In 2009 and 2012, President Obama described West as “a jackass” but later called him “talented.”