Kanye performs at Howard University

Photo courtesy Sierra Lyons

Rapper Kanye West has been in the news a lot recently. This past Saturday, the artist made headlines again as he performed at Howard University during their homecoming weekend.

Perhaps five years ago if West were to make an appearance at a prominent HBCU like Howard, the headlines would’ve been different. But his visit onto their campus follows his past year of questionable and in some people’s opinions, downright ignorant, career and political decisions.

In just a year, West has surprised many by his very vocal and active support of President Donald Trump. He has met with Trump several times in the past year and proudly sports his “make America great again” hat in public.

Not only was his support of Trump upsetting to many, but also his interview at TMZ where he said that 400 years of slavery “sounds like a choice.”

Fast-forward to 2019 where West has once again rebranded himself. Yet this time, as the leader of a “religious” experience he calls “Sunday Service.”

West began “Sunday Service” at the beginning of 2019 in places such as his own property and other areas around Los Angeles. But the campus of Howard University was the latest location for his gathering.

News broke early Saturday morning on Twitter of his appearance on Howard’s campus with his wife Kim Kardashian.

Not long after the news broke, many Twitter users questioned why he would appear on a campus very rich with African-American history, after many of his recent comments and actions were deemed “anti-black.”

The criticism wasn’t reserved for only West, but many people tweeted their disapproval of the students who chose to attend the event. It brought up a conversation of how effective or ineffective “cancel-culture” really is. Should West have been able to say and do the things he has done in the past year and still be welcomed by many with open arms?

The conversation doesn’t stop at “cancel-culture” but also evokes concern from many, specifically Christians who view his services as sacrilegious and self-serving.

A fundamental practice in the Christian religion, is for Christians to use discernment. While on the surface, West’s service may be uplifting God, many Christians are discerning that the experience isn’t as glorifying to God as it may seem.

We’re living in a digital age to where if someone disagrees with you, it only takes a tweet or DM to reach you. West and Howard students who chose to attend the event are experiencing firsthand what it’s like to receive digital dissension. The question is, will people’s vocal disapproval spark change in West and those students?

Whether or not change happens immediately, the conversation has definitely intensified in the Black community on allowing someone who has caused so much harm, back in so easily. Not only that, but also the conversation of who is allowed to push the envelope on religious traditions like Sunday morning services.

As a consumer, it’s important to be knowledgeable on what and who you are supporting. Especially as African Americans it’s important now more than ever, to make yourself aware of who West is and what he represents, rather than blindly supporting him. Unfortunately, this may be a lesson that many Howard students are learning the hard way.