Kanye West is no stranger to eliciting surprise and confusion. His latest play: pairing a Donald Trump MAGA hat with a Colin Kaepernick sweatshirt.
Trump and former 49ers quarterback Kaepernick go together like oil and water. Trump has, on several different occasions now, criticized Kaepernick's protesting police brutality during the "The Star Spangled Banner."
West donned this outfit on a trip to the office of music magazine The FADER. He apparently designed the Kaepernick sweatshirt himself.
West previously caused a great deal of confusion among his fans when he said, just after the election, that he would have voted for Trump. After a series of meetings with the president and tweets about his love and support, West told late night host Jimmy Kimmel that his support was less about policy and more about being "fearless enough to break the fucking simulation."
"It took me a year and a half to have the confidence to stand up and put on the [Make America Great Again] hat, no matter what the consequences were," he said. "And what it represented to me is not about policies, because I'm not a politician like that, but it represented overcoming fear and doing what you felt no matter what anyone said." Following one of West's recent expressions of support, Chance the Rapper, himself the son of a prominent Democratic Party figure, tweeted that black people didn't have to be Democrats.
Pairing Trump's hat with a sweater that likely would incense Trump and many of his supporters suggests West himself is trying to break said simulation. And while his support for Trump makes him a minority among blacks in the U.S., there are likely quite a few Trump voters who support holding police accountable, even if they don't like how Kaepernick has chosen to raise the issue. Cornell's Roper Center for Public Opinion Research reports that 86 percent of whites and 92 percent of blacks support the idea of independent prosecutors investigating police who kill unarmed people, and that equal numbers of both whites and blacks support a right to record police, as well as requiring police to wear audio and visual recording equipment on the job. The divergence in sentiment captured by West's outfit concerns the extent of the problem and who is most hurt by it.
West is crossing the divide like a culture-war version of Nik Wallenda.