Random question, if given the option to be treated like dirt, forced to do manual labor, have your identity stripped away, your children ripped away from you and sold on a market, live in shackles and chains, be bred like livestock, and the only form of compensation you'll ever receive is maybe a shanty quarters to live in and some food that's only a little better than what's served to pigs, would you pick that option?
Because Kanye West, a man known for saying/doing outlandish and ridiculous things says he believes Africans chose to stay slaves after being chained and shipped from their native homeland and brought to America. And he did it right on TMZ in a live interview (starts at 1:14 mark, which I've got placed right for you below).
West was shut down after making the incendiary claim by TMZ's Van Lathan who provided this succinct and eloquent response to the artist.
West's comments came after he tweeted support for Donald Trump, saying him and the President both share the same "dragon energy."
You don't have to agree with trump but the mob can't make me not love him. We are both dragon energy. He is my brother. I love everyone. I don't agree with everything anyone does. That's what makes us individuals. And we have the right to independent thought.— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) April 25, 2018
Then there was Kanye wearing this MAGA hat.
And Trump and his constituents, who are very quick to dismiss any entertainer who criticizes what he does and says as being "out of touch" or that they should just stick to being an entertainer, are very, very happy with the fact that Kanye West is saying positive things about the Donald.
And while many were just chalking up Kanye's comments as an attempt to get his name in the news to promote his upcoming two albums, his "slavery was a choice" comments had a lot of people on Twitter very frustrated, angry, and shocked.
Many are tweeting the #ifslaverywereachoice hashtag to give their thoughts on West's comments.
Some think that the comment shouldn't even be acknowledged.
While others are fearing for the future of Kim and Kanye's relationship.
Others think that people of color are basically doing it to themselves.
And there were some people who asked the question that was on everyone's minds after West said what he said.
Some just couldn't stop parodying what the artist said.
Others pointed out what the other option was for those who decided to "opt out of slavery" back then.
And others just couldn't help being realer than real.
#IfSlaveryWereAChoice it LITERALLY would not be called slavery.— BrooklynDad_Defiant! (@mmpadellan) May 2, 2018
It would be called something like "low wage employment with no cost-of-living wage increases while the rich get MASSIVE tax cuts and bigger profits."
But I guess slavery has fewer characters, so...😐
The backlash to Kanye's statement had the artist take to Twitter to explain what he meant by saying the the 400 years were a "choice."
we are programmed to always talk and fight race issues. We need to update our conversation.— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) May 1, 2018
the reason why I brought up the 400 years point is because we can't be mentally imprisoned for another 400 years. We need free thought now. Even the statement was an example of free thought It was just an idea— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) May 1, 2018
And that he was being "attacked" for presenting new ideas.
once again I am being attacked for presenting new ideas— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) May 1, 2018
But in all fairness, I mean, you have the right to say whatever you want and people have the right to point out just how dumb the things you're saying truly are, with evidence, of course.
Many Twitter users just couldn't understand how Kanye's claim was in any way constructive.
How exactly did you “update the conversation”?— Kelechi Okafor (@kelechnekoff) May 1, 2018
if this was 148 years ago I would have been more like Harriet or Nat— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) May 1, 2018
I freed a thousand slaves I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves. - Harriet Tubman— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) May 2, 2018
Others pointed out that West was misquoting influential African American figures.
And the problems behind tweeting out fake quotes.
Someone really needs to stop Kanye from tweeting these fake quotes that never existed. Very Trumpish and it is dangerous because dumb people believe and racist people don't care if it is true or false. Quote has been used by racist people for decades it is entirely made up. https://t.co/0gMEi7YXC0— Robert Littal (@BSO) May 2, 2018
Others noticed a recurring trend with notable African Americans who have publicly endorsed Trump.
Trump's Blacks Don't Know Much About Slavery:— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) May 2, 2018
Kanye West: Slavery was "a choice"
Ben Carson: Obamacare is the "worst thing...since slavery."
Sheriff David Clarke: Obama "rubbed the stain of slavery" for 8 years.
Diamond & Silk: "It was the Democrats that started slavery."
Many think that Kanye should read up a bit more on the history of slavery.
Dear @kanyewest, from @HISTORY: "Laws dictating when, where and how slaves could congregate were enacted to prevent insurrection and quell white paranoia. It’s estimated there were at least 250 slave rebellions in America before slavery was abolished." #Haiti #Maroons. #READ!— Karen Hunter (@karenhunter) May 1, 2018
Trust your intentions. Appreciate your transparency, and commitment to authenticity. But it’s getting dark when you’re implying that what held back enslaved people was a mentality—it was a fixed and reinforced power structure, and when you wear that red hat you reinforce the same— Brendan McGuirk (@BrendanMcGuirk) May 1, 2018
For the most part though, everyone is just shocked West would ever say what he just said.
Don’t usually get caught up in commenting about stuff like this but I saw what Kanye West said and I was ASHAMED. 400 Years of slavery a CHOICE???? Really! All I’ll say is this: I’m incredibly proud of that staffer from TMZ. Brilliant, Eloquent & totally appropriate response.#WTH— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) May 2, 2018
There's been a slew of celeb responses to Kanye West's suggestion that slavery was a choice, but this Will.I.Am one pretty much hits the nail on the head.
"That broke my heart, because I thought about my grandma, who was born in 1920, and her connection with her mom who raised her, who was born in the late 1800s.
And my grandmother's grandma, who was a slave. And when you're a slave, you're owned. You don't choose if you're owned. When you're a slave you're deprived of education. That's not choice, that's by force.
So I understand the need to have free thought, but if your thoughts aren't researched, that is just going to hurt those that are still in conditions where it's not choice."
I'm still hoping this is just a marketing tactic and Kanye went too far, because I can't even possibly fathom how people whose family members were affected by slavery feel about what he said.