Why I won’t use a Kanye Quote in the Yearbook

Supporting Kanye is a a dicey prospect


Cosmopolitan UK, CC BY 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

As seniors are selecting their quotes for the yearbook, should we be allowing statements from Kanye?

I have been a massive fan of Kanye West for years. He was the artist I listened to most this year by far, you can see my Apple Music Replay below for proof.

Proof Ben listened to way too much Kanye this year

I know his life story, the hardships he’s been through, his greatest accolades and achievements—all of it. Anyone who knows anything about Kanye West knows that he has some mental health issues. He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and has had numerous manic episodes throughout his career. He’s lost his mother, his wife divorced him, and some of his closest friends have cut ties with him. It is very easy to consider all of this and feel bad for Kanye. In all honesty, I feel terrible for him, and it is deeply saddening to see someone you’ve looked up to for years go through so much pain.
It is also deeply saddening to see that same person act in ways that put others in danger, just as Kanye has done. If you haven’t been keeping up, Kanye West has made a myriad of anti-Semitic statements in the past couple of months. Not just vague jokes, but straight-up claims. On Alex Jones’ podcast, Kanye declared, “I like Hitler.” “I see good things about Hitler.” “I love Jewish people, but I also love Nazis.” That isn’t even the worst of it, he went on and on, and then after the interview, posted a picture of a swastika inside of a star of David to his Twitter page. This all came weeks after Kanye tweeted in the midst of a late night rant that he would go, “death con 3 on Jewish people.” While the direct meaning of this statement is unclear, but it is obviously a threat.
Kanye has 30 million followers on Twitter—that’s double the total amount of Jewish people in the world, (30 million followers and 14.8 million Jewish people) it becomes clear how harmful this is. The Anti-Defamation League stated that anti-Semetic hate speech is spiking on Twitter in the weeks following Kanye’s comments. Like it or not, Kanye is putting Jewish people in danger by saying these things. The evidence of this is abundantly clear; by going into any of Kanye’s Twitter replies or comment sections of TikToks about his remarks, people are agreeing with him. Scary as it is, that is the reality. When you have such a large audience, the influence you have on them is astounding. His impact over pop culture and these young minds who eat up every single word he says can be incredibly dangerous when used incorrectly. Whether Kanye is saying these things for attention, or he actually means them, the result is still the same: he is fueling a growing hostility in our society towards Jews.
I know I am not alone in the Academy community when it comes to being a fan of Kanye’s music. Arguably the most influential musician of all time, Kanye has had a grip on the rap industry as a whole, and for good reason; he really is a musical genius. I won’t even try to deny that. But if I had to say one thing to my fellow seniors as we submit our senior quotes for the yearbook I’d tell you this: I know how many iconic quotes Kanye has, and until recently I was going to use one myself. But tying your name to someone who has fed the flames of anti-semitism in a way not done by such a powerful person in decades may not be in your best interest. I can’t tell you what to do or not to do; for all of you thinking right now, “it’s a free country,”, yeah, it is! I would just ask you to look inward, and ask yourself if you really are okay with putting Kanye’s name next to yours in the yearbook.
I get how hard it is to accept, but Kanye is not the same person he was when he made your favorite albums and songs. He has grown into something terrible, and it hurts my heart to watch happen. Kanye is an extremely talented artist, but it’s time that we think twice about the messages we want to support. And no guys, sadly, ‘Graduation’ is not enough anymore.