Why are African Americans, especially young males, making excuses for what Kanye West said? When you derogatorily blurt out, "...slavery sounds like a choice..." there are no subliminal or sub-textual messages one can account for in order to justify such a statement.
There are many people who are analyzing and reading into what he "meant to say," and giving credence to what they believe is his underlined messaging. Others have dismissed his statements as the rants of a bipolar madman off his meds. Forget what he meant to say. No one is in his head, but him and I don't care if he is off his meds or not. He's an extremely intelligent and influential man who needs to take responsibility for his actions and we need to take responsible for what he said, view his comments as literal commentary, and somehow hold him accountable.
Let's be honest. Kanye West made an ignorant, asinine, uneducated statement so that he could align himself with Trump supporters in order to sell his music. He's already made angry statements regarding radio stations not playing his songs in their rotations resulting in declining music sales. Jumping ship and aligning himself with Trump supporters would be a great marketing strategy. (Trump did it when he jumped ship with the democratic party.) He'd introduce himself to a brand new audience of people unfamiliar with him or his music. It would be brilliant, if it weren't so vile and disgusting with implications of servility.
The strategy completely exposes his unapologetic indifference in terms of comprehending the mindful, systematic, intentional, and radically oppressive nature of the plantation culture and the overwhelming strength it took for African AMERICANS to struggle, endure and ultimately, survive one of the greatest holocaust known to man.
African American slaves weren't sitting around idly waiting for 400 years on their freedom. They have fiercely and bravely fought in every war since this country's inception...including the Revolutionary War. But when you have a political and social order systematically structured with complex checks and balances in order to remain intransigently oppressive...it's a little difficult to overcome.
The only "choice," slaves had at their immediate disposal was the power of FAITH and the strength to endure.
Part of the limited ideological understanding of our culture and true history in this country by our younger generations is OUR fault though. We, as African Americans, must bare some of the responsibility for the lack of knowledge permeated within our communities. Out of some nonsensical sense of shame, WE don't demand our history be realistically taught in our school systems. We want to talk about being kings and queens, but we don't want to discuss the gross experimentations, the funneling of drugs to fund wars, or the building of prisons to maintain "free," labor. We don't orally pass down our history from one generation to the next and we don't READ (A skill that was withheld from us under the penalty of death.) or respect the process! So when Kanye West says he doesn't read; is he further perpetuating the slave mentality?
Even when there are epic films that chronicle the realistic, often painful, lives of slaves, we allow others outside our communities, who have an economic interest in our ignorance, to orchestrate our sense of loyalty and therefore don't support them and further miss out on opportunities to learn and embrace our true essence and humanity.
We don't view our history and the endurance of our ancestors as a sense of inspiration and pride. We also don't take ownership in the building of this great nation. Because of its "free labor," this country has become one of the riches and most powerful entities on the planet. Yet, we would rather view ourselves as resident aliens with no equity in its success. That's preposterous and as a result of our own lack of unconsciousness, we're handed wealthy, assimilationist puppets, who represent themselves as leaders, but allow their strings to be pulled for profit.
When we don't fully understand the complexities of our history, our communities continue to decline and become strategically, politically, and judiciously displaced. If we don't learn to humbly appreciate that off the bloody backs and stripes of slaves, and the choices they consciously made to survive through insurmountable odds, we will forever be destined to fail. It is because of the sacrifices of our ancestors we live, breath, and have our being. It is through their spirit and tenacity we ultimately thrive. If we don't learn that simple truth, we will forever be mentally enslaved no matter how much money we make or what people, groups or political affiliates we align ourselves with.
The choice of education and continuous KNOWLEDGE is POWER. When we Love ourselves enough to uncompromisingly share our rich culture, inheritance and heritage with others, EVERYONE wins and our communities will thrive.
As far as Kanye West is concerned; he is an intelligent, ignorant, misguided, self-centered, and uneducated man who would greatly benefit from reading Dr. Joy DeGruy Leary's book, POST TRAUMATIC SLAVE SYNDROME. However, because he does not read, he should go on YouTube and watch her lecture on the same subject. That would give him and everyone who shares his ideology more insight into America's legacy of slavery and its layered, residual impact on generations of Americans, more specifically, AFRICAN AMERICANS.
Aaron Braxton is the critically acclaimed and
award winning author of several books including
JESSE AND THE CATERPILLAR WHO GOT ITS WINGS,
and GOING SOLO: How To Create Your Own Dynamic
One-Person Show. Check out his website at: