I was sick of seeing and hearing about every little thing the Kardashians did – until they took a trip to Armenia. Sisters Kim and Khloe, accompanied by Kim’s husband Kanye West and their daughter North, landed in Yerevan on April 8.
I was not the happiest of Armenians when I heard the news. As the trip progressed, however, the magnitude of their impact became evident. It provided the opportunity for millions of non-Armenians to learn about Armenia and its history.
The Eurasian country spends all of April mourning the mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks in 1915, known as the Armenian Genocide.
Armenians, in general, are very welcoming people, but it is rare to see the amount of appreciation they showed the Kardashians. They were greeted at Zvartnots International Airport by women in traditional Armenian dresses who offered them bread and salt; a gesture usually saved for the arrival of dignitaries.
It might have seemed too extreme, but it was understandable considering their visit brought so much attention to the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide from the media and people around the world.
The Kardashians’ Armenian roots come from their late father, Robert Kardashian, a third-generation Armenian, famous for being O. J. Simpson’s defense attorney during Simpson’s trial in 1995.
While the Kardashians have never denied their roots, they had not quite embraced their Armenian-ness the way one typically would. Previously, the most they ever did was send out a tweet or two about the Genocide or occasionally dined at Carousel, their late father’s favorite Armenian restaurant located in Glendale and Hollywood.
Making the pilgrimage to Armenia, however, was their most significant attempt at getting in touch with their roots, whether it was done for publicity or not. I doubt anything else compares to the attention that our homeland is getting thanks to the numerous trending topics about their voyage.
It clearly meant a lot to Armenians and it seems like we had finally made amends with the family who is simply famous for being famous.
I am not going to pretend that I have always loved and supported the Kardashians. In fact, I find it difficult to applaud Kim for anything other than bringing attention to this cause. With this trip, she has influenced numerous government officials and intellectuals into acknowledging the Armenian Genocide.
Part of my concern with their visit stems from the envy I feel toward Kanye and North, who can say that they have been to Armenia, but I can’t. While Kanye and North have no connection to Armenia outside of Kim, they managed to make a significant impression on the country.
Amazingly, Kanye did not just tag along with his wife and sister-in-law. Instead, he toured the Tumo Center for Creative Technologies and later put on an impromptu show in Swan Lake during their last night. We are talking about Kanye here, who gave a free show in unfamiliar territory, jumped into a lake and was surrounded by people who probably do not speak the same language as him … yet they knew every word of his songs.
Kanye’s performance reached a whole other audience — fans and music industry supporters alike.
I constantly found myself on their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and numerous fan accounts, looking for more updates while trying to digest the idea of them in “our country,” as Kim calls it.
Both Kim and Khloe took to social media to thank everyone for the warm welcome and posted about each of their stops, which was definitely nice to see.
I saw them do one tourist activity after another, visiting statues of prominent figures, monasteries, small villages and larger cities. I still worried that it was not enough for them to show up, take pictures, post on social media and leave.
As it turns out, it was more than enough and exactly what we needed.
Kim Kardashian West alone has over 24 million likes on Facebook, almost 30 million Instagram followers and 31 million more on Twitter.
Khloe Kardashian Odom has less than half that, but all of those numbers add up to about 15 times Armenia’s population.
By including a trip to Tsitsernakaberd, the Armenian Genocide memorial complex in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, they reminded the world of a tragedy that has been disregarded year after year. It would take years of planning and millions of dollars to gain this much recognition otherwise.
Considering they have land in Armenia, which Khloe claims is a souvenir for siblings Kourtney and Robert, I am sure they will go back soon.
Just when I thought the trip was over, Kim and Kanye made another stop in Jerusalem to baptize their then 21-month-old, North. The ceremony took place at the Cathedral of St. James, a 12th-century Armenian church in the Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem where Khloe served as Godmother.
As Armenians, we thank the Kardashians for making the journey to our motherland and joining us in the fight for our cause.