It seems like our old college dropout, Kanye West, should have stayed in school. Within the last few weeks, the acclaimed genius of music managed to land himself in more hot water. With little warning, West jumpstarted the controversy when he took to Twitter in what can be closely described as a tweet frenzy. Tweeting things like, “Obama was in office for eight years and nothing in Chicago changed,” to tweeting things that hinted at his intentions to run for President of the United States of America. In one post he stated, “Harvey Levin of TMZ your hearing from your future president. Let’s be friends. Please never use the word erratic to describe a person who is economically and psychologically empowered.” His rampage on Twitter got so bad that his wife, Kim Kardashian West, had to step in on his behalf in order to let everyone know that her husband was in good mental health. In a tweet she posted just shortly after one of his questionable stances, she said, “to the media trying to demonize my husband let me just say this…your commentary on Kanye being erratic & his tweets being disturbing is actually scary. So quick to label him as having mental health issues for just being himself when he has always been expressive is not fair.” But if only it was that easy to believe.
Sometimes people feel that he takes it just a bit too far. Throwing jabs at past President Barack Obama was one thing, but when West threw jabs at slaves for opting to remain in slavery was the final nudge that pushed people off the ledge. In an interview with TMZ, he made a few comments about slavery being a choice that was made. Sitting side by side Harvey Levin and Charles Latibeaudiere , West let his thoughts be heard by saying, “when you hear about slavery for 400 years… for 400 years that sound like a choice. Like you was there for 400 years and it’s all of yall?” Kanye West has always been one of the most influential and controversial celebrities of the 21 century, however, now some people are starting to view him as only being the most destructive.
Celebrities and the general public are now criticizing the rapper as having too large a platform to hold and speak such viewpoints. Some people say his thoughts are too ignorant, some say his thoughts are detrimental to the black community, and some say he’s just a mini President Donald Trump. But just as Mrs. West stated, Kanye has always been a free thinker, and people have always found it interesting to listen intently to his views on the world in the past. So why can’t people attempt to understand what he’s trying to convey through these very taboo ideas that he has today?
One reason may be that some of the things he says don’t make sense. For example, slaves have always been regarded in the history books as trying to escape their bondage. There’s evidence in the underground railroad, in which Harriet Tubman led hundreds of slaves to their freedom—because they chose to escape. There’s also the story of Nat Turner, an American slave who led a famous rebellion of slaves and free blacks throughout the south. And let’s not forget that just like the famous Erik Killmonger quote, “bury me in the ocean with my ancestors that jumped from the ships. Because they knew that death was better than bondage,” there were the slaves who refused to live in cramped spaces underneath a ship. It seems like Kanye West forgot a huge chunk of history when he made his statement live on TMZ. Slaves have never been just content with the shackles and whips and met that their bodies. In fact, would freedom exist today if there wasn’t such a thirst for it?
On the other hand, as confused as Kanye West might come across, there are always those devote followers who will defend him no matter what. In some twisted way, West could actually make an interestingly true observation. To be someone’s captive for 400 years can be seen as long enough to be considered a choice. Fear is only a state of mind, and once you make the conscious effort to think past it, winning is on the other side. For instance, on plantations slaves outnumbered the people referred to as “masters”, so opportunity to fight was always an option disguised as fear. Sure there were guns, but a gun can only have one target at a time. If slaves would have united on all fronts, it’s possible that they could have easily overpowered those in charge after a short tussle. Unfortunately, there were more slaves that chose to listen than those who chose to think of freedom.
Kanye West is the embodiment of many things. He’s been labeled a genius, a legend, and a disgrace—all in which can be argued. The one label that can’t be taken away from him is his fearlessness to be outspoken. Consequently, his fearlessness often offers up room for the assumption that he is forever falling into a dark abyss.