Politically, black Americans aren’t a monolith, but they still overwhelmingly vote as Democrats. There’s a movement of black conservatives trying to change that, though, and it’s apparently getting creative help from rapper Kanye West.
West reportedly lent his design help on the graphics and colors on a range of hats and t-shirts Candace Owens is using to promote her “Blexit” movement. Owens is a prominent face among young black Republicans and the communications director of conservative organization Turning Point USA.
On Oct. 27, Owens launched Blexit.com, and explained the meaning of the term in an exclusive essay for the alt-right site Breitbart. “We have been quietly building an ecosystem of free thinkers and at long last, the intellectual dam is breaking,” she wrote. “This unique moment will come to be known as BLEXIT: the black exit from the Democrat party.”
Over the weekend, Owens was on hand at Turning Point USA’s Young Black Leadership Summit, where “Blexit” t-shirts were being handed out. “Blexit is a renaissance and I am blessed to say that this logo, these colors, were created by my dear friend and fellow superhero Kanye West,” she told New York Post reporter Nikki Schwab, adding that West “has taken one of the boldest steps in America to open a conversation we have needed to have.”
On Twitter today, and in an interview with Breitbart, she clarified that West helped design the X in “BLEXIT.” Initially the descriptions on the site where the products are for sale prominently listed West as their designer, though the site has since been updated to remove West’s name. Owens’s name does not appear on the product pages.
West, who has drawn criticism for his support of US president Donald Trump and for his apparent rightward political shift, hasn’t responded explicitly about the matter, only tweeting, “We’re about love unity and we design for the world.” He has previously voiced his support of Owens, tweeting, “I love the way Candace Owens thinks,” and argued (paywall) that black voters are taken for granted by the Democratic party and have the mentality of slaves on a plantation. (Some of the Blexit t-shirts say “We Free,” evoking this line of thought.)
And then there are various other statements by West that have riled black people, like saying 400 years of slavery “sounds like a choice.” He apologized later for that comment.
An alignment with Owens, who has said that the Black Lives Matter movement has a victim mentality and who chose Breitbart, which has links to white nationalism, to reveal the launch of her Blexit concept, is only more likely to put West at odds with more black Americans.