These hoteps must be stopped, y’all
OPINION: Famous hoteps like Kanye and Kyrie are normalizing hotepism. Meanwhile, hoteps are a part of the Republican Party? Oh, hell no. We have a problem.
Rapper Kanye West speaks during a meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in the Oval office of the White House on October 11, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Oliver Contreras – Pool/Getty Images)
Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.
I was watching an old episode of “A Black Lady Sketch Show” when it hit me. It was that sketch where the star and creator of the show, Robin Thede, plays a hotep — Dr. Haddassah Olayinka Ali-Youngman, Pre-Ph.D. — a sister spitting fake facts and exuding misplaced arrogance while lacing in regressive ideas all wrapped up in an attempt to inspire pride for and a connection with Africa.
The character was described by one blogger as “obnoxiously pro-Black but anti-progress,” which is a really good way of encapsulating the absurdly woke hotep movement. There are lots of hoteps among us acting like contrarianism is the same as intelligence. They’re dangerous because they present themselves as the ultimate truth, but they are far from it.
But as I watched Thede’s hysterical takedown of hoteps, it all seemed to me strangely reminiscent of something — the alternative facts, the obsession with creating a connection with Africa, the sense that they’re smarter than everyone when they’re not — and it hit me that this is exactly what we’re seeing now in Kanye and Kyrie. They’re hoteps who are famous, and they’re part of the mainstreaming of hotepism.
Of course, hoteps have been with us for years — back in 2017, Michael Harriot wrote, “Hoteps are people who have overdosed on ‘Pan-Afrikan’ ideologies they obtained by reading badly designed websites, Hidden Colors DVDs (yes, Hoteps still play DVDs) and poor-quality YouTube videos explaining Illuminati symbology to scary background music. Hotepness is unshakable because Hoteps don’t read primary-sourced, peer-reviewed anything, and if you dispute any of their made-up dogma with actual facts, they can always dismiss it with, “That’s what they want you to believe.”
Hoteps talk as if they are trying to push us forward, but in actuality, they’re pushing a very backwards agenda that’s often antisemitic. The Urban Dictionary’s definition of hoteps includes this: “A conspiracy-loving, probably anti-Semitic, conservative pro-lifer who believes in ‘family values’ but is also Black and into Black pride a bit too much.”
Another definition says hotepism is, “Known for its embrace of pseudo-history about Egypt…In fact, a significant portion of self-identified hoteps have so much in common with far-right white nationalism — a deep hatred of feminism and a love of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, among other things — that the group has been dubbed the ‘ankh right’ by some of its Black critics.”
Both Kanye and Kyrie are like hoteps — they brandish knowledge gleaned from shadowy sources, and they passionately refuse to accept mainstream dogma even if that means they end up asserting things like the Earth is flat, and they have a holier-than-thou or smarter-than-thou vibe about them but can’t really explain their bombastic ideas.
The thing I didn’t realize until recently is the deep connection between hoteps and Trumpism. Both of the descriptions I just quoted above reference the conservative or far-right connections that some hoteps have. Not all hoteps are conservative, but many are because it matches their regressive approach to political matters. One prominent hotep named Young Pharoah was set to speak at the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) conference in 2021 until he was uninvited because of past antisemitic comments.
Kanye’s hotepism and his right-wing-ness are reflective of the way many hoteps approach politics. He’s just the most well-known version of an archetype that’s developing in our community. It’s bizarre to me that these hoteps can call themselves Black nationalists and lovers and defenders of Black people while also aligning with an overtly white supremacist movement like Trumpism. I don’t understand how those two things fit together in one mind except if you say, OK hotepism is a performance of intelligence rather than actual intelligence, and it’s built on a mountain of alternative facts. But perhaps it makes sense because Black people laugh at hoteps — the term is meant to be mocking and derisive — but white people may not be able to realize they’re speaking nonsense. Also, conservatives welcome any Black person, no matter how pathetic, because they think that having Black people in their tent makes them look less racist. So hoteps act like they’re leading us to the intellectual promised land while many of them are actually trying to lead us into the conservative lion’s mouth. Beware.
Touré is a host and Creative Director at theGrio. He is the host of the podcast “Toure Show” and the podcast docuseries “Who Was Prince?” He is also the author of seven books including the Prince biography Nothing Compares 2 U. Look out for his upcoming podcast Being Black In the 80s.
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