Kanye West and the (neo) liberal ‘call out’: pop[ulist] persona, and ‘post-racial’ heterodox

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


This paper concerns itself with what might be termed a ‘post -racial’ weaponization of celebrity. Focusing upon the recent coverage of Black American rapper Kanye West’s support for Donald Trump by sections of the liberal media, the paper draws attention to the ways in which media narratives are consistent with post-racial narratives associated with a neo-liberal racialised subject and grounded in a doxa that privileges forms of de-contextualised, non- negotiable, essentialised difference.

Dubrofosky (2016: 665) suggests ‘… press articulations of Trump belie the uneasy alliance between elite whiteness and white behaviour marked as working-class or poor’. Trump’s ‘whiteness’ is constructed as ‘other’ and ‘monstrous’- and by association so his supporters. This paper suggests that this interplay is mirrored in the construction of West’s heterodox ‘Blackness’. Paul Gilroy (Belcher and Gilroy 2016) has suggested that the contemporary politicisation of ‘Blackness’ exposes a tendency that re-legitimate dominant modes of neoliberal subjectivation - ‘Black’ experience is robbed of its socio-political specificity. Failure to ascribe to this (post) racialised orthodoxy results in public shaming and censor.

Media construction of West’s ‘Blackness’ negate his political subjectivity. West’s heterodox ‘Blackness’ conforms to but also problematises the logics-of post-race society – a performance of ‘black spectacle’ that also contravenes the expectation of ‘Blackness’. In this sense West is afforded a curious ‘public colourlessness’– he is ‘Black’ but not ‘Blackness’.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventInaugural International Persona Studies Conference - Newcastle University, Newcastle, United Kingdom
Duration: 25 Jun 201926 Jun 2019
https://personastudiesconference.home.blog/ (Conference website.)


ConferenceInaugural International Persona Studies Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • Kanye West
  • Persona Studies
  • Celebrity


Dive into the research topics of 'Kanye West and the (neo) liberal ‘call out’: pop[ulist] persona, and ‘post-racial’ heterodox'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this