The Descendant of a Slave Explains the Roots of Kanye West's 'Very Flawed' Claim that Slavery Was a 'Choice'

After alienating many of his fans by voicing support and affection for President Donald Trump, Kanye West made the brazen remark this week that American slavery of Africans and their descendants might have been a "choice" on the part of the slaves.


“When you hear about slavery for 400 years — for 400 years? That sounds like a choice," West said to TMZ. "You was there for 400 years, and it’s all of y’all? It's like we're mentally in prison.”

Maxine Crump, the CEO of Dialogue on Race Louisiana and a descendant of a slave, appeared on CNN Wednesday to explain exactly why this kind of rhetoric is so prevalent and damaging.

"It sounds like he stands only in the immediate, and for some reason, doesn't want to deal with the past," Crump said. "I am concerned that there would be people who would be influenced by his thinking and think, 'Well, maybe he has a point.'"

She continued: "If they believe he has a point, it would be someone... because they haven't had that education in K-12 education. ... There were generations of people who came through that system [of slavery.] It was an American system. And it was legal, a legal system. Never right — but legal. And there were ways of keeping this construct that was beyond those individuals' resources about. They did everything they could."

West's view of slavery is "very flawed and very surface," she said.

"What I would want is for everyone who's been through K-12 education, and anyone who's involved in K-12 education at any level — administrators, those who write textbooks — any level of education level needs to be concerned about hearing that," Crump added said.

Watch the clip below: 

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

Close
alternet logo

Tough Times

Demand honest news. Help support AlterNet and our mission to keep you informed during this crisis.