Opinion: An Observation on Kanye's MAGA Hat

Over the weekend, Kanye West made headlines yet again following his rant at the closing of Saturday Night Live. Whether you agreed or disagreed with his message, for many people in the media, one thing has continued to stick out like a sore thumb: Kanye’s infamous MAGA hat. To me, this attack in particular, is a disappointing misstep by many in the media, and I’ll explain why.

Over the course of 2018, Kanye West has been on quite a roller coaster both in and out of the music, mostly stemming from his support of president Donald Trump. But across this saga, we’ve been able to learn more about the man behind the music, particularly that he’s been dealing with mental health and has been on and off of medications and in and out of treatment. On multiple occasions, Kanye has gone on to refer to his red Make America Great Again (MAGA) hat as his “Superman cape,” and I’m beginning to think that it’s not just a fashion statement.

We’ve seen things like this before; a person making a certain emotional connection with an object, often giving it a name. Whether it be the bear your friend snuggles up with after a breakup or, most famously, that blue blanket that Linus always had with him in the Peanuts comics, this item has a term: comfort object. In a way, it’s a coping mechanism that people — of all ages — use when dealing with mental and/or emotional stress. It gives them peace and mental strength in situations that challenge the person’s mental or emotional wellbeing. That being said, Kanye seems to have clung to the MAGA hat because

“I didn’t want a reaction,” he explained in a TMZ interview. “I knew there was going to be a reaction, but I’m just living my life day by day doing what I feel, and what the spirit calls upon me to do.”

I won’t go into everything from that interview, but he does elaborate about much of what he has dealt with behind the scenes, including being medicated with up to seven medications at the peak. I’m not medical expert, so I can’t speak to what those prescriptions were or if he’s still taking any of them, but I can make an observation about his use of the MAGA hat. As he put it, it’s his “Superman cape,” because when he wears it, it makes him feel strong, giving him the strength to truly be him — regardless of what the hat means to the rest of us. But many outlets in the media don’t see it that way.

“Kanye West is either six years old, or he literally is going through some sort of episode,” Ebro Darden, of Ebro in the Morning on New York’s Hot 97 said to a laughter-filled radio station. “The fact that he was like ‘It’s my Superman cape’ — what, are you wearing underoos bro, what’s happening?”

One of Ebro’s co-hosts, Peter Rosenberg went on to compare the hat to the swastica, and while I will definitely not argue about his perspective, but during their conversation, they do attempt to give context to their position, but ultimately it seems to boil down to people don’t like Kanye’s comfort object, and think it’s alright to insult and make fun of him because of it.

Currently, Kanye West is in the unpopular minority — he’s a Black man who seems to support Donald Trump. I think it’s fair to disagree with Kanye’s political views, but I disagree with bullying a person for what they decide to use as their form of mental and/or emotional support. Agree or disagree, Kanye West is doing what he feels is best for him. He gets insulted and made fun of regardless of the hat, so to lambast him over his coping mechanism? Seems like a low blow, coming from so many outlets who consider themselves to be progressive. I assume they wouldn’t insult a person who needed an emotional support animal in daily life, but that’s just my opinion.

Nick Bailey is a forward thinking journalist with a well-rounded skill set including writing, design, and photography. Nick now resides in Austin, TX after earning a degree in Mass Communication with an emphasis on journalism from Texas A&M University—Commerce.