Kanye West returned to social media this week, and what a week it has been. It all started when the famous rapper took to Twitter to pledge his love for President Donald Trump by saying:
We are both dragon energy. He is my brother.
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
What came next was an interview with TMZ Live where West spoke about slavery:
When you hear about slavery for 400 years ... for 400 years? That sounds like a choice. Like, you was there for 400 years and it’s all of y’all? It’s like we’re mentally in prison. I like the word ‘prison’ because slavery goes too direct to the idea of blacks. It’s like slavery, Holocaust. Holocaust, Jews. Slavery is blacks. So, prison is something that unites us as one race. Blacks and whites being one race. We’re the human race.
The backlash from the interview was swift, prompting the hashtag #slaverywasachoice with thousands of tweets both humorous and serious. But West wasn't finished. His friend, musician John Legend, reached out to try and explain why people felt so hurt by West's remarks.
But Kanye dug in his heels:
West doubled down on his "slavery is a choice" claim, tweeting a quote from abolitionist and political activist Harriet Tubman. Tubman escaped slavery and dedicated her life to freeing other slaves, running 13 dangerous missions and rescuing upwards of 70 enslaved people.
In the tweet, West quoted Tubman:
I freed a thousand slaves I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.
People are taking issue with the tweet because no one can prove Harriet Tubman ever said it. Dr. W. Caleb McDaniel is a professor and slavery historian at Rice University.
McDaniel wrote in a 2016 essay, "The Dangers of a Fake Tubman Quote":
Modern historians know the truth: enslaved people resisted their condition in countless ways, large and small. If they were not able to attain freedom, it was not because they didn’t want it or because (as the fake Tubman quote would have it) they 'did not know they were slaves. It was because powerful forces were arrayed against them. The idea of 'tacit consent' distracted attention from that fact.
The week is only half over. Who knows what else might come.