Singer and newly prolific tweeter Kanye West blindsided many of his fans and sparked controversy last week when he endorsed President Trump on Twitter. This week, the rapper took his “free thought” to an unprecedented level, asserting during an appearance on TMZ Live that the 400 years African Americans spent enslaved was…voluntary?
“When you hear about slavery for 400 years. For 400 years?! That sounds like a choice,” he said. “We’re mentally in prison. I like the word prison cause slavery goes too direct to the idea of blacks. Like Holocaust is Jews, slavery is blacks. So prison is something that unites us as one race, whites and blacks being one race. The human race.”
The backlash to his harmful (and hugely fallacious) comment was swift. TMZ staffer Van Lathan responded on-air, telling West he felt “unbelievably hurt” by his words.
Will.i.am also spoke out about Kanye West’s slavery comments on Good Morning Britain, calling it “one of the most ignorant statements that anybody who came from the hood could ever say about their ancestors.” And now, Twitter has come through with #IfSlaveryWereAChoice, using the trending hashtag to point out the absurdity of West’s words.
Then there are those who are just plain (and rightfully) outraged.
We hope Kanye is listening to the backlash and critiques, and more importantly, learning from it. Because at the end of the day, words have power, and propagating a hurtful and historically inaccurate claim serves no one.