Sunday night at the VMAs, Kanye West gave a speech that was long-winded, self-important, and absolutely brilliant. He said some things that made no sense, some things that made perfect sense, and, of course, ended it by announcing that he was running for president in 2020. In other words, it was a Classic Kanye Moment.
Of course, we’re used to this by now. We know Kanye is the most outspoken entertainer in the world by a fairly wide margin, and whenever he opens his mouth, he’s going to say something that might shock the senses of the American public. He’s done it countless times before, and he’ll do it countless more times in the future. While he’s been this way his entire career (and maybe life?), the moment the nation as a whole noticed came 10 years ago Wednesday, when he dropped one of the more memorable proclamations in American history: “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.”
It was a truly jarring moment when he said it, an obviously stunned Mike Myers standing next to him with absolutely no idea what to do or say. While Kanye had already released two albums at that point (Late Registration had come out just three days earlier), this feels like the moment we truly met Kanye West, and when we learned that if you put a camera in front of him, he’s going to say exactly what’s on his mind.
Was his famous proclamation accurate? That’s a difficult nut to crack. Generally speaking, most people would likely blame the government’s horribly lacking response to Hurricane Katrina on the incompetence of both President Bush and former FEMA Director Michael Brown rather than any racism on their part, but it’s hard to blame Kanye for being suspicious. When we saw many of the black residents of New Orleans sitting on their rooftops, their homes destroyed, desperately waiting to be rescued, one couldn’t help but wonder if the person in charge of the country actually cared about what was happening. Kanye vocalized that fear in brutally blunt fashion.