The meeting and apparent longtime friendship of Donald Trump and Kanye West is confusing for many reasons, not least Trump's habit of demonizing the people and communities central to West's identity. In October, he attacked rap music for its improper lyrics and supporting rape culture, while over the years he's been charged with repeatedly denigrating Black people in his personal and political dealings: Reportedly saying "laziness is a trait in Blacks"; spearheading the racist conspiracy theory that President Obama was not born in the U.S.; refusing to condemn his white supremacist supporters; and wooing Black voters by assuring them they live in a hell hole and have nothing to lose. Meanwhile, his businesses have been sued and penalized by the government for discriminating against Black employees and prospective renters.
But what you'd think would be most bewildering to Kanye are the things Donald Trump has said about the rapper's wife Kim Kardashian. "Does she have a good body? No. Does she have a fat ass? Absolutely," Trump told Howard Stern during an interview in 2013 — when Kardashian was pregnant with Kanye's future daughter North West. "And if it weren’t Kim, they’d say, 'Wow, I don’t want to go out with her. That girl’s got a terrible [inaudible].'" He body-shamed the expecting mom again that year when he told a reporter, "She's gotten a little bit large... I don't think you should dress like you weigh 120 pounds." There's also the not-out-of-character report that Trump called Kanye's sister-in-law Khloé a "fat piglet" and "the ugly Kardashian” when she appeared on The Celebrity Apprentice in 2009.
So what the hell is Kanye thinking? Does he have no qualms getting chummy with a man who has openly body-shamed the woman who gave birth to his child? Where is his loyalty to his wife and family? Has he thought about how he might explain this to North — being friendly with a person who insulted her mom's appearance? What about her dignity? Trump's treatment of Kardashian has been callous and cruel. And while there are many, many questions we have about the unexpected relationship between the rapper and the President-elect, the mystery of how, exactly, Kanye is justifying this disregard for his wife — to her, and to himself — is the most challenging of all.