Photo of Kanye West wearing a jacket with Confederate patch circulates after his presidential run announcement
After Kanye West announced that he was planning a presidential run this year on social media, pictures of him wearing a jacket with a Confederate flag patch started circulating online. Snopes, a fact-checking website confirmed that the photo in question was not fake. It was taken in 2013 when West had just released “New Slaves,” a song centered on racism in the United States. He not only incorporated the confederate flag design on his clothes, the rapper also started selling memorabilia emblazoned with the Confederate flag at his shows.
At the time CNN reported that the rapper made headlines after several pieces of merchandise from his Yeezus tour were on display emblazoned with the controversial Southern Cross. When one entered his tour store in Los Angeles, a replica of the flag was affixed to the wall with red tape and adorned with the words, “I ain’t coming down.” There were Confederate flag tote bags and a T-shirt emblazoned with the flag and a skull on the garment.
After being severely criticized for peddling a piece of racist memorabilia, he was adamant that he did nothing wrong. He claimed that he was attempting to take ownership of the flag. “You know the confederate flag represented slavery, in a way, that’s my abstract take on what I know about it, right. So I wrote the song ‘New Slaves.’ So I took the Confederate flag and made it my flag. It’s my flag now. Now what are you going to do?” he said. West was also later seen draped in the flag.
Two years later, when West was asked in an interview with Los Angeles radio station 97.1 AMP whether he regretted his bid to reappropriate the popular symbol of hate, he said he did not. "React how you want," West said. "Any energy is good energy. The Confederate flag represented slavery in a way. That's my abstract take on what I know about it, right? So I wrote the song 'New Slaves.' So I took the Confederate flag and made it my flag. It's my flag now."
He added at the time that his logic behind attempting to normalize the symbol of confederate flags was that it was a subversive act. And that he knew that white supremacists would be beyond enraged to see a black man get rich by hijacking their own branding. However hs bid to start a sort of revolution for the people of color failed as most of them did not see the flag as their own. The result was West creating a temporary controversy in the media, which eventually faded only to be remembered as one of his more eccentric and overambitious endeavors.
"We must now realize the promise of America by trusting God, unifying our vision and building our future. I am running for president of the United States! #2020VISION" West tweeted on July 5.
Later in a Forbes interview, he said: “God just gave me the clarity and said it’s time. You know I was out there, ended up in the hospital, people were calling me crazy. I'm not crazy. Between all of the influences and the positions that we can be put in as musicians—you go on tour, you put out all these albums, and you look up and you don’t have any money in your account. It can drive you crazy, through all of that I was looking crazy because it wasn’t the time. Now it’s time. And we’re not going crazy, we’re going Yeezy, it’s a whole ‘notha level now. N-O-T-H-A."