Thirteen years after asserting on live TV that then-President George W. Bush didn’t “care about black people,” Kanye West on Thursday walked back the comment by saying he was affected by a “victimized mentality.”
“I was very emotional and I was programmed to think from a victimized mentality. A welfare mentality,” he said at the White House, where he appeared with Kid Rock to watch President Donald Trump sign a bill reforming music copyright regulations.
West went on to say that black people “get caught up in the idea of racism.”
It was a striking thing to hear from a man who once criticized Bush for the disorganized federal response in areas affected by Hurricane Katrina and occupied largely by people of color. The storm killed more than 1,800 people and left thousands struggling to find food, water and shelter.
West launched into an off-script speech about racial inequality during an NBC telethon to benefit hurricane victims in 2005.
“I hate the way they portray us in the media,” West said at the time. “If you see a black family, it says, ‘They’re looting.’ You see a white family, it says, ‘They’re looking for food.’ And you know that it’s been five days because most of the people are black.”
After Mike Meyers, who appeared alongside the rapper, took his turn reading a few more planned lines, West added calmly: “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.” The cameras cut away from him immediately afterward.
Bush said in 2010 that he felt West’s accusation was the “all-time low” point of his two-term presidency. At the time, West agreed.
Yet the rapper’s political views have shifted dramatically, upsetting many of his fans. West’s social media pages show him in a red “Make America Great Again” hat, and he has said he wishes to facilitate conversations between the president and opponents like NFL free agent Colin Kaepernick. He has at various points suggested slavery was “a choice” and that the 13th Amendment, which outlawed slavery, should be abolished. West also used a recent “Saturday Night Live” episode to go off on a pro-Trump rant, eliciting boos from the crowd.
Trump is notoriously unpopular with black Americans and has been accused of being racist.
On Thursday, West attributed his support for the president to not having “a lot of male energy” in his home growing up.