Saying that Kanye West is no stranger to controversy would be an understatement. Among other things, he will be forever known as the guy who jumped on stage during the VMAs and interrupted Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech to declare that Beyonce had “the best video of all time.” He has never been one to back down from his convictions, calling one of his albums “Yeezus,” a play off Jesus.
He may be arguably one of the best rappers and producers of all time, but his behavior in the last few years has been absolutely mind boggling. How did the same man who declared on national television that “George Bush doesn’t care about black people,” turn into a MAGA hat-wearing, card-carrying member of team Trump?
And after his most recent stunt, Kanye West is officially cancelled. This week, in an interview with TMZ, he said “When you hear about slavery for 400 years … For 400 years? That sounds like a choice.” Yep, he said that.
Kanye West, one of the most outspoken black men in the entertainment industry actually said that slavery was a choice. I literally do not even know how to respond to that, other than to say: Cancelled. CAN-CELLED. Apparently we’re living in the goddamn upside down, because I just can’t think of a better explanation for the shit show that is unfolding before our very eyes.
First, let’s just talk about facts. I don’t know how someone who is as (seemingly) smart as Kanye West could actually believe that slavery was a fucking choice. Where did Africans have the choice to be laid in the cargo storage of a ship, chained to the floor, unable to even sit up? Where did they have the choice to be stolen from their homeland, forced to learn a new language, adopt new names, give up their traditions and be converted to a religion they knew nothing about?
Where was the choice to not be allowed to fall in love, to marry, to have a family without the fear of being ripped apart and sold as property before being shipped to different parts of the country? Where was the choice to be raped, forced to carry the child of the man who owned you, forced to have sex with the boss’s wife, whipped, bloodied, and broken for minor infractions and perceived inability? Was it a choice to not be educated? Where was the choice in any of that? I don’t fucking think so.
Not surprisingly, people came out in force to disagree with Kanye’s ridiculous comments. Everyone from journalists to other rappers to historians lined up with facts to refute his bullshit statement, and harsh words for his flippant remarks.
— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) May 2, 2018
I don’t have the energy for nonsense but Kanye saying slavery was a choice reiterates my previous statements about how dangerous his trite, shallow ramblings are. He is not a free thinker. He is a free moron who doesn’t read. Do not @ me.
— roxane gay (@rgay) May 1, 2018
Filmmaker Matthew Cherry and journalist Philip Mwaniki thanked and praised TMZ reporter Van Lathan for stepping in to shut that shit down in real time:
Years from now, the question will be; where were you when this dude shut Kanye West up? pic.twitter.com/wTG83siGuz
— Philip Mwaniki (@Mwanikih) May 1, 2018
— Matthew A. Cherry (@MatthewACherry) May 1, 2018
And of course, some people took the humorous route, because sometimes things are so wild and ridiculous and absurd that all you can do is laugh:
— Jimmy Kimmel (@jimmykimmel) May 1, 2018
Want to feel old? This is Kanye West now. pic.twitter.com/BWRBm1ld5p
— Mat Johnson (@mat_johnson) May 1, 2018
And Kanye’s assertion that slavery was a choice did lead to a pretty hilarious hashtag on Twitter, because if there’s nothing else black folks have during times of absolute confusion, they got jokes.
Here’s the thing though, Kanye’s “thoughts” about slavery are dangerous. Because his comments will be seized upon like red meat by anyone just looking to advance the white supremacist agenda.
As soon as I saw Mr. West emerging from Trump Tower way back in 2016, I have been waiting for some off-the-wall, white supremacist bullshit to come spewing out of his mouth. In an interview in The New York Times, West elaborated on his affection for the cotton candy haired menace allegedly running the country: “I can tell you that when he was running, it’s like I felt something. The fact that he won proves something. It proves that anything is possible in America.” Well, yes, anything is indeed possible, but the possibilities here are not ones that make me hopeful, Yeezy.
But on a way more serious note, someone whose last name is not Kardashian or Jenner needs to go check on Kanye West. This is all very unsettling. Cancelling Kanye may be what’s best for him at this point.