YouTuber and contemporary artist Ken Williams has been frustrated with American politics since Trump entered the political atmosphere. “I felt instantly cheated out of all the promises I felt America had made to me about progress. The reoccurring trauma for me has been watching the president perform leadership apathetically; from his broken campaign promises to his decisive rhetoric, to more recently Trump’s State of the Union address where he mentions a few empty promises about ending HIV by 2030—which has been an issue that Donald Trump has already demonstrated caring nothing about. He is a liar and whats worst is that no one seems to hold him accountable.”
I have written what I think to be my most honest work yet. What a trump administration means to me is that the “living” document we call our constitution is dead! Rewrite it! In its current condition it is worthless! And I say that as someone who loves you. Who vouched for you when you’ve done some off the wall shit in our not so distant past, I feel as if this is my Tyra Got fed up moment, Because with needle after needle in your arm, America, I believed in you. White privileged has to be being born of the people who created the institutions of paper in this country that the law, bible, history books and currency are printed on. Part of what I believe white supremacy to be is making that history book the basis for standard education in this country. Until Christopher Columbus is no longer the right answer, we as a nation are not free. I want to remind everyone that this is not a fun video. But if you can identify yourself in the praise or heartbreak of any of these words then I have created something beyond my own honesty that lives & operates in other people, and with that, as an artist, I have done my job. So my hope is that you hear me.
Williams response was to create a riveting piece of performance art on YouTube called Hire The Nigger. The pot stirring title comes from William’s favorite line in the poem. “The title speaks to the audacity of how ill-equipped Trump is to lead; and it speaks to the audacity of our country’s leniency for allowing this to happen.”
Williams composed this poetic conversation to represent how he’s internalized Donald Trump’s political climb and his subsequent popularity. One of the earliest arguments in the poem questions Trumps qualifications and our misstep, as a country, to acknowledge and act on Trump’s dis-qualifiers. “This wasn’t about fanning the flames of contention for me,” says Williams, “this was about daring America to look in the mirror to ask & answer HOW have we allowed this country to fall this far from grace.”
Williams wants #HTN to be a nod to conversations about privilege as well as broaden our collective understanding of what rape culture in America looks like. “I believe everyone behaves in certain levels of privilege, and I think that behavior is key to a natural order of life; however, the problem I found myself having with the Trump administration is that Donald Trump, who is someone that has historically weaponized his privileges, is now able to do so with the force of a congress behind him that has already allowed for him to get away with so much. That is concerning for me.”
Williams felt it was imperative to use the n-word more so now than ever when it’s highly polarized. “The inspiration to create #HTN was beyond me,” said Williams. “I was nudged by a force I believe to be greater than myself to be bold in my expression and as the waves of headlines & scandals came pouring out of the white house, I took notes— collecting them in a journal until there was no room to collect more evidence. I don’t believe there was a time when the n-word wasn’t highly polarized. I think it’s always been representative of the dichotomy that we have in America where we tend to label things like the n-word to be uncultured, unethical, dangerous and/or mean to say or use, so we stigmatize the word in hopes to curb its use; however the n-word also represents a mindset and behavior. The n-word speaks to the open mistreatment and devaluing of the “other” and we continually see our country’s leadership participating in the mistreatment of folks. So there was a call for me to say it out loud and demonstrate my ability to teach by having said it.”
What a Trump Administration means to Williams is that the “living document we call our constitution is dead — and it died the moment we as a nation began pretending that people like Trump don’t see us all, collectively as niggers. Rewrite the US constitution! In its current condition is worthless! And I say that as someone who loves my country, as someone who has vouched for America when off the wall-shit has happened in our not so distant past.”
Williams hopes #HTN makes people uncomfortable, adding, “it has been uncomfortable for me to feel this way about a country that I have loved so much too. I had to walk off a ledge to find the bravery to share HTN. So I hope people do cringe! And I hope what makes them cringe most about #HTN is knowing that nothing I said was far-fetched at all. I think to myself, the audacity of us to not want to orchestrate an immediate release from this administration. In a perfect world they would play HTN on the congressional floor.”
Last year Plus magazine said of Williams, “Through his personal journey with HIV, Williams seeks to convey the nuances of his experience, he explains, “so when the historians do their research, they will know that black gay men do exist, and that doesn’t make us vectors or predators or disposable — but vibrant, impassioned individuals thriving in a fear-based society with very little support.”
With #HTN he continues to do so.
Watch the video below.