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“George Bush Doesn’t Care About Black People” was a controversial quote uttered by rapper Kanye West during his appearance on the Concert for Hurricane Relief, a celebrity-driven benefit for Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts, in which he accused the then-President George W. Bush of lacking sympathy for the African American communities affected by the disaster in New Orleans.
On September 2nd, 2005, rapper Kanye West appeared on live television during a benefit concert for Hurricane Katrina relief on NBC. During the segment, West spoke alongside actor Mike Myers about the devastation in New Orleans and deviated from the script by criticizing the government’s response to the Hurricane, concluding with the statement “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.”
“I hate the way they portray us in the media. You see a black family, it says, ’They’re looting.’ You see a white family, it says, ’They’re looking for food.’ And, you know, it’s been five days [waiting for federal help] because most of the people are black. And even for me to complain about it, I would be a hypocrite because I’ve tried to turn away from the TV because it’s too hard to watch. I’ve even been shopping before even giving a donation, so now I’m calling my business manager right now to see what is the biggest amount I can give, and just to imagine if I was down there, and those are my people down there. So anybody out there that wants to do anything that we can help--with the way America is set up to help the poor, the black people, the less well-off, as slow as possible. I mean, the Red Cross is doing everything they can. We already realize a lot of people that could help are at war right now, fighting another way--and they’ve given them permission to go down and shoot us!”
News Media Coverage
In the days following the incident, West’s comments were reported on by various news sites, including The Washington Post,BBC, Fox News and the New York Times. The following week, NPR aired a special segment on President Bush’s relations with African Americans, noting how West’s statement caused a political uproar regarding the federal government’s response to the hurricane.
Immediately following the televised benefit, YTMND user matlock45 created a page titled “Bush doesn’t care about black people (fixed)”, featuring a screen capture of West and Myers accompanied by an audio clip of West repeating the statement. Within eight years, the page received over 61,000 views and more than 65 other YTMND pages referencing the incident were created. On October 9th, 2005, Urban Dictionary user ganstanaut submitted an entry for the phrase “George Bush doesn’t care about black people,” defining the expression as “Kanye’s words of wisdom.” On November 15th, YouTuber stimulator uploaded a music video for the protest song “George Bush Don’t Like Black People” by The Legendary K.O. (shown below), which gained upwards of 120,000 views and 1,200 comments in the next eight years. On April 16th, 2006, YouTuber Shockroc1 reuploaded the video clip of West and Myers, which received over 5.8 million views in the next seven years.
On November 29th, Assata Shakur Forums member Young_African_Queen submitted a poll asking “Do [sic] Bush Like Black People?”, to which more than 45% responded “Naw…..And Never Will” and over 35% responded “Fuck Bush!” (shown below). On April 16th, 2006, YouTuber Shockroc1 reuploaded the video clip of West and Myers, which received upwards of 5.8 million views in the next seven years.
Kanye West’s Response
On September 24th, 2007, West was interviewed on the ABC late-night news program Nightline, in which he amended his statement by saying he had “a hard time believing that George Bush cares about anyone” (shown below).
George Bush’s Response
On November 9th, 2010, NBC aired an hour-long special program featuring Bush’s interview with journalist Matt Lauer, in which Bush recounted West’s statements as being "one of the most disgusting moments of my presidency” (shown below).