Ice Cube created controversy recently by working with the Trump Administration to push his Contract With Black America (CWBA), a plan designed to narrow the opportunity gap.
Ice Cube’s music has always shined a critical light on U.S. institutions, politics and race relations. Could he really be a Republican?
Sure, he could be. But he’s probably not. Instead, he’s the latest example of how Black celebrities who don’t fit neatly into a party role are greeted with confusion and often miscast.
Cube has spent recent days explaining to Fox News and others that he is “not playing politics with this,” despite a meeting with Jared Kushner, the president’s advisor and son-in-law, for several hours.
“I’m willing to meet with anybody who could bring this to life and make it a reality,” he said.
In an Oct. 14 tweet, he wrote, “Facts: I put out the CWBA. Both parties contacted me. Dems said we’ll address the CWBA after the election. Trump campaign made some adjustments to their plan after talking to us about the CWBA.”
‘Black’ Does Not Mean ‘Democrat’
The truth is that the American political system often sees the words “Black” and “Democrat” as synonymous. But that is simply not true. There are Black conservatives. There are Black libertarians. And there are Black independents, which I suspect is what is at play here.
As I wrote last week, “Ice Cube symbolizes the Black independent. Those in Black America with an agenda and a self-enlightened interest don’t neatly fit in the two-party system, because neither side speaks to their desire for autonomy.”
Ice Cube has made it clear that his interest is getting things done. He reached out to Democrats and Republicans. Yet, when it is Republicans who respond, Republicans who listen and Republicans who tout the relationship, people turn to Ice Cube for explanation.
A fan on Twitter accused Cube of working with the dark side and called it “heartbreaking.” And, given Trump’s offensive statements and his deplorable record on race (see the yet-to-be-apologized-for Central Park 5 incident for reference), it’s an understandable sentiment.
Yet the artist’s response was instructive. “Every side is the Darkside for us here in America,” Ice Cube wrote. “They’re all the same until something changes for us. They all lie and they all cheat but we can’t afford not to negotiate with whoever is in power or our condition in this country will never change. Our justice is bipartisan.”
Ice Cube has influence. In the Celebrity Influence Poll I commissioned this year, one in three voters nationally (36 percent) said Ice Cube had influence over their voting decision. More than one in 10 (13 percent) said he was “very important.”
Among those, almost 78 percent said they valued his opinion on how to stop police from killing young Black men. In addition, more than 60 percent value his input on pandemic-related government lockdowns and the political balance of the Supreme Court.
But it’s hard to fault a Black activist for working across the aisle to get things done, even if the person across the table is Kushner. All these headlines say more about the way people view Black Americans in politics than it does about Cube.
Cedric Muhammad, former general manager of the Wu-Tang Clan and political consultant, runs Hip-Hoppreneur, a firm that helps celebrities navigate the intersection of politics and pop culture.