Yesterday’s White House visit by rapper Kanye West was must-watch tv.
While many in the media started lambasting the musician’s visit before it happened as a display of “anti-intellectualism” to be kind, West made it clear that he had an agenda: focus the White House’s energy on forgotten black communities.
Here are 3 ideas that Kanye West championed during his meeting with President Trump that would be good policy achievements:
1. Bringing manufacturing jobs to Chicago and Middle America
“We had a meeting in Chicago. And I said, “You have to bring manufacturing onshore.” And not even shore; into the core. It’s not about the border; it’s the core of Adidas. And Chicago is the core of Middle America. And we have to make Middle America strong.”
“We have to bring jobs into America because our best export is entertainment and ideas. But when we make everything in China and not in America, then we’re cheating on our country …”
Chicago was once a factory town at the turn of the 20th century with steel mills and other factories providing good-paying middle-class jobs for black workers in the south and west areas of the city. When those factories closed, the factory jobs disappeared and work supported by those factories evaporated leaving blight and poverty. The black unemployment rate in the city of Chicago was 15 percent in 2017 even though the overall unemployment rate dipped below 5 percent.
Manufacturing jobs have seen a boost under the Trump Administration, but it will take effort to attract that investment to forgotten areas of Chicago. There’s a reason that it’s cheaper for American companies and brands to produce goods overseas. In essence, West is advocating for making “made-in-America” attractive again. Policies like corporate tax cuts, tax reform, and deregulation are good starting points.
2. Innovating in education
“I think it would be cool to have Yeezy ideation centers, which would be a mix of education that empowers people and gives them modern information like – sometimes people say, “This kid has ADD. This kid has ADD.” He don’t have ADD. School is boring. It was boring. It’s not as exciting as this. We have to make it more exciting. We have to mix curriculums.”
While I don’t know what “Yeezy ideation centers” are, there is need for K-12 education to be more engaging and relevant for young people. That doesn’t happen through a one-size-fits-all standard but diversity in K-12 education. That’s a case for charter schools and private schools that enjoy the flexibility to provide curricula and programming that meets the needs of their students.
3. Protecting 2nd Amendment Rights
“The problem is illegal guns. Illegal guns is the problem, not legal guns. We have the right to bear arms.”
Gun control policies don’t reduce gun violence because criminals don’t follow the law. Many of these restrictions only disarm law-abiding citizens rendering them defenseless.
Kanye West is not a policy expert, he's a musician and celebrity. Celebrities often use their platforms to highlight the causes they care about.
If West can draw attention to important issues like employment, better education and criminal justice reform in the black community and inspire action by working with the White House, Congress, experts, and practitioners in these areas, then he would have accomplished something worthwhile.
Others may follow his example and that is perhaps what scares the left, the media, and black “intellectuals” most.