By now, no one should be surprised that Kanye West is a fan of President Donald Trump. It’s been months since he first posted a selfie wearing a “Make America Great Again” cap, so the surprise should be gone. West has since ended his relationship with Trump.

And yet, there we were again Monday morning, talking about West and his red baseball cap after his appearance on Saturday Night Live and his most recent remarks about repealing the 13th Amendment.

But for many African Americans, the deeper question for West – or for anyone with melanin in their skin – is why?

Why do you support Trump, given his offensive remarks, his silence on White nationalism, his rollbacks of Obama-era policies? What makes an African American put on a MAGA hat?

When I found out Trump would be at the Landers Center campaigning for Mississippi Senate hopeful Cindy Hyde-Smith, I decided to go find some African American Trump supporters and ask.

And that’s how, in an election season punctuated by a bitter Senate battle for the Supreme Court, I found myself strolling into a “Make America Great Again” rally on Oct. 23.

Here’s what I learned. Whether it’s Trump 2020 or MLK50, the process is the same: Put the design on the shirt, make the shirt, sell the shirt. Repeat. It’s just business. It was obvious that Trump represented a business opportunity for these entrepreneurs – and the “hustle” doesn’t stop for anyone.

Here’s what you should understand about Donald Trump and his popularity in Red State America: Remember how America (or the world, for that matter) was captivated by Trump’s predecessor, President Barack Obama? Remember Rev. Jesse Jackson crying when Obama was elected and how you felt Obama was going to get America back on the right track after eight years of George W. Bush?

Well, that’s how Trump supporters feel about him. And it was palpable from the moment I walked into the Landers Center.

I didn’t feel threatened though – not as an African American or as a member of the “fake news media.”

If you’re carrying around an image of angry Trump voters, well there was no anger in the building. They were too happy to welcome their conquering hero.

One of those people was Colin Richmond, a Memphis, Tenn. native and staunch Republican since 2000.

“I’m here to let the president know that we love him. We support him. We’re praying for him,” said Richmond, 49. “And that he is delivering on the promises he made during the campaign. And we just want to let them know we’re here for him.”

Like many Republicans, Richmond likes Trump’s pro-business policies.

“I think a rising tide lifts all boats,” Richmond said. “And the President is for-all Americans –for African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Latino Americans, he’s for all Americans.

“I’m a business developer and employees, when they look at their paychecks, they’re looking at more money on the bottom lines,” he continued, referring to Trump’s tax cuts. “And I don’t care who you are, that has to that has to resonate with you.”

For Michael Stewart, also from Memphis, the choice to register as a Republican was pretty simple – and pretty straightforward.

“Democrats weren’t representing my values the way I wanted them to,” Stewart said. “They’re for gay marriage, open border immigration, taking away gun rights . . . and I don’t support none of that. So Republicans lined up with my values a little bit more.”

I spoke with Rev. Manuel Donis, a pastor who joined the GOP in 2016 to support Ben Carson. When Carson’s bid ended, he switched.  As a preacher in the Bible Belt, Donis checks off the same boxes many other evangelical voters do.

“I believe in supporting Israel,” Donis said, wearing a MAGA hat and Trump T-shirt. “I also believe in Biblical marriage. And I’m pro-life.”

So what is it about Trump that he thinks most Black folk are missing?

“They need to come, pay attention and have an open mind,” Donis said. “We’ve been close-minded. We believe one way and we just stay that way. I began to do research and broaden my mind to see the things that have been holding the Black community back for years.

“It’s time for a change,” Donis said. “We’ve been in this place for so long, it’s time to move on and do something different.”

Donis thinks Trump is doing an “excellent job,” and believes that America’s booming economy will mean opportunity in the African American community – especially people with felony convictions.

“That’s one of the things I’m concerned about is trying to help these men when they get back into society, is that they have a fair chance,” said Donis, a prison chaplain. “So I believe President Trump and his cabinet are going to make things happen to help men and women who are re-entering society to get a fair shake.”

Nobody I spoke with denied that Trump says (and tweets) some outlandish things. But it wasn’t enough to drive them away.

“What drew me to Trump was his logical standpoint on politics and not getting caught up in being politically correct. He says it like it is, being blunt,” said Kidron Taylor, a 21-year-old from Batesville, Miss. “Yes, he says some rude, mean stuff sometimes, but when it comes down to the politics and his actions, it aligns more with what I believe in.”

Taylor, who revealed he is biracial, is a strong supporter of Second Amendment rights and Trump’s immigration policy.

“At the end of the day, I prefer someone who says stuff I don’t like sometimes and just say what’s on their mind than say, someone like Hillary (Clinton), who’ll say anything to make you feel good,” he said. “That’s someone I can trust more.”

Stewart said that often African Americans are too sensitive, allowing emotions to override logic.

“Blacks are more emotionally driven than by logic,” Stewart said. “Democrats pull on your emotional strings. I’m more driven by common sense. If it makes sense to me, then my logic is always going to overrule my emotions.”

Which isn’t to say that there’s blind allegiance.

“I don’t agree with everything he says,” Donis would comment later. “But I like what he stands for. I’m a pastor, so those Biblical issues are very important to me. I can’t stand up in front of my congregation and say, ‘We need to be this way’ and then do something else. I’m not being truthful.”

I flagged down two University of Memphis students – one African American, one White – and neither were Trump supporters. At just 19, both said it was their first time coming “to anything political” and for them, it was more of an academic exercise.

“I’m trying to be moderate and understand the way the right thinks and the way they interpret the things he’s going to say tonight,” said Tia Marshall, an African American sociology major.

“I just wanted to see how different people interact with different beliefs and see where I stand on the political spectrum,” added Tristan Scarborough, an anthropology major. “

And like the college students they are, they took notes. One of Marshall’s notes said “Holy Trump Water.”

“There was one man outside who was selling ‘Holy Trump Water,’” she said. “He was saying that Trump had ‘blessed’ the water. I thought that was very interesting.”