“There are no bad people; there are lost people.”
These are the just some of the many words Kanye West spoke during a chaotic Presidential rally at North Charleston’s Exquis Event Center in South Carolina, where he expounded on abortion, gun control, addiction, mental health (“they’re going to tell you that I’m crazy – the world’s crazy!”), conspiracy theories and Black-owned businesses. The rapper is allegedly running for the 2020 Presidency, despite having announced his bid too late to be registered in at least four states: North Carolina, Indiana, New Mexico and Texas.
The move has been criticised by commentators who claim Kanye will split the vote that would otherwise go to Democratic candidate Joe Biden, thereby strengthening Donald Trump’s bid for re-election. He rejected this, leading to his most widely denounced proclamation from the event. “The most racist thing that’s ever been said is the idea that if Kanye West runs for President, I’m gonna split the Black votes,” he began, before suggesting that “Harriet Tubman actually never freed the slaves; she just had the slaves go work for other white people.” Tubman was an abolitionist, born a slave around 1820, who escaped captivity and later helped dozens of people to escape slavery.
Elsewhere he hinted at conspiracy theories related to corporate power and asked: “Do you realise that I am putting my life on the line for the truth right now?” Here are the key pledges that West made at the turbulent event.
Abortion to remain legal
Earlier this month, Kanye tweeted and deleted a photo of a six-month-old foetus with the caption “These souls deserve to live”. Asked why he removed the photo when he maintains a pro-life stance, the rapper explained at the rally: “I was pressured by the forces that were around me”. Despite his beliefs, Kanye said he empathises with women who have abortions, insisting, “We understand the conditions”, citing poverty and rape cases and assuring the audience that he would not wish to see a return of backstreet abortions. To this end, he said: “My stance is not to make abortion illegal at all. It should always be legal.”
$1m for pregnant women
Instead, it seems, he would attempt to dissuade women from having an abortion by offering them financial assistance. “No more Plan B – Plan A,” he said. “Anyone who is pregnant, you have an option of $50,000 of support to take care of your child.” He later upped this: “Maximum increase would be, everybody that has a baby gets a million dollars.”
Explaining his anti-abortion stance, Kanye shared a lengthy anecdote in which he claimed that divine intervention convinced he and wife Kim Kardashian not to abort their child: “I was having the rapper’s lifestyle,” he said. “I was sitting up in Paris, and I had my leather pants on … and I had my laptop up and I got all of my creative ideas … And the screen went black and white and God said, ‘If you fuck with my vision I’m going to fuck with yours’. And I called my wife and she said, ‘We’re gonna have this baby’. I said, ‘We’re gonna have this child’… So even if my wife were to divorce me after this speech, she brought North into the world when I didn’t want to. She stood up and she protected that child.”
He broke down in tears when he discussed his own parents’ decision to have him: “My mom saved my life. My dad wanted to abort me. My mom saved my life. There would have been no Kanye West because my dad was too busy.” Later he cried: “I almost killed my daughter! I almost killed my daughter!”
Kanye spoke without a mic and audience members, who interjected at various points, didn’t have them either, which meant that the event often descended into a shouting match, with the crowd drowning out the rapper. “If you guys gonna whisper, go outside and talk,” he admonished them, requesting that people raised their hands before they spoke, adding that “We need absolute silence and absolute order.” He insisted the sound would be better at future events as they “will be in rooms where the acoustics will be incredible because I will be involved with the design”.
Support for the LGBT+ community
One audience member asked Kanye how, as a Christian, he feels about homosexuality. It a took moment for him to respond, such was the disruption from the crowd – he had an attendee ejected from the event – but eventually he replied: “Jesus loves everyone. He does not discriminate against anyone.”
— ye (@kanyewest) July 19, 2020
Gun ownership to remain legal
At one point, West was asked about his stance on gun ownership. He replied that, on his “4,000-acre ranch” in Wyoming, he “can shoot AR-15s all day without going to jail.” The rapper said that “Shooting guns are fun” and expressed concerns at the potential repercussions of gun control: “The thing is if you guys put down all your weapons … When other countries come in and you have no weapons, what do you think is going to happen? You will be enslaved. Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.”
More control of prescription pills
He took a stricter approach to prescription drugs, seeming to suggest that medical professionals should be more retrained in prescribing medication.
“I stubbed my toe two years ago,” he recalled. “I went to the doctor because I gotta Ye everything up… When I got there, five doctors asked me if I wanted pain medication. At the end of the year they give out awards to the people who have given out the most medication. After getting plastic surgery, that was a slippery slope to getting addicted to Percocets – a cousin and sister to heroin. I was addicted to a smaller form of heroin. I would live in this McMansion, in this gated community… and I would drive to Calabasas, high as a motherfucker.”
Kanye concluded: “We are trapped in a loop. We are going to break that trap.”
More Black-owned businesses
“The National Basketball Association is not owned by any Blacks,” he told the audience. “Universal Music is not owned by any Blacks. Any celebrity that you see talking is not a real power. Because the real power – and I am putting my line on the life [sic] – you don’t see them. You don’t see the real power. You don’t know who’s putting the internet in your schools just top trap you. You don’t know who’s targeting you… You don’t know who’s the head of the boards.”
He complained that he’s not on the board at Adidas or GAP – he’s working on an “accessible” clothing line for the latter – and insisted “that has to change today”.