Speaking your mind in the spotlight

Graphic by Wednesday Laplante.

Kanye West’s support for Donald Trump highlights a larger conversation about famous people’s opinions

We all have a right to voice our opinions. In fact, I’ll be voicing mine throughout this article. It doesn’t mean you need to agree with it, but it’s always nice to open our minds to a different perspective. Oftentimes, I think people say things without expecting repercussions. But if your words were more powerful than other people’s, would you be more careful about what you said?

In my opinion, a celebrity’s words have a big impact on their fans. People can be easily influenced by their role models and, therefore, swayed to agree with something solely because of the person who said it. Or, people can also completely disagree with any statements made by celebrities and withdraw their support as a result.

When rapper Kanye West tweeted a picture of his “Make America Great Again” cap in April, people did not react well. West later tweeted, “You don’t have to agree with Trump, but the mob can’t make me not love him.” Although West has the right to be a Trump supporter, there are obvious reasons why so many people do not support the President and were so shocked when West revealed he did. I believe Trump is blatantly racist, sexist and quite childish. It’s obvious to me that this isn’t someone who should be spoken highly of by other famous people.

Although West said on Twitter that he wants to be open about his opinions and thoughts rather than be controlled by the popular opinion, it can be argued that he should be more cautious about the things he says because of his influence on the public. If he openly states that he supports Trump or supports a specific statement Trump has made, this may sway West supporters to think something that’s problematic is not so bad if West supports it.

Things can often be misread or taken out of context, so celebrities should be used to thinking twice about anything they say. We all have a right to express our opinions, but when your words have a larger impact on the public, that right needs to be exercised with more caution. I’m not saying things should be purposely left unsaid, but words travel fast, and with the popularity of social media nowadays, it’s easy for something to be seen or read by many more people than anticipated and for its impact to be far-reaching.

Kanye also argued in a tweet, “I don’t agree with everything anyone does. That’s what makes us individuals. And we have the right to independent thought.” Though this is true, being a celebrity does come with the responsibility of keeping in mind how your words influence your fans. Explanations must often be given to justify words and actions. If you give your opinion with no justification, it can be taken the wrong way. With an explanation, people can at least understand the reasoning behind your thinking and be considerate of it.

We do not have to agree with everything a person says, but we can respect their words. Or, if we do not want to accept them, we can at least acknowledge the fact that there is a reasonable explanation behind their opinions. Whether our words will be heard by one person or thousands, we should always be aware of the possible repercussions. Everyone can disagree with something or be disagreed with.

Everyone has a right to their opinion, and to speak it, no matter the size of their audience. However, those in the public eye should always be more conscious of how their words and actions will be received.

Graphic by Wednesday Laplante


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