The insidious cultural history of Kanye West’s slavery comments

By Tara Isabella Burton | Vox

Rapper, designer, and self-proclaimed avatar of “dragon energy” Kanye West caused controversy yesterday when he told the entertainment site TMZ that American slavery was a “choice.”

“When you hear about slavery for 400 years … for 400 years?” he said. “That sounds like a choice.”

He later doubled down in a perplexing tweetstorm that included, among other things, an apocryphal quote likely falsely attributed to Harriet Tubman implying that enslaved people did not know they were slaves.

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

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