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  • Writer's pictureAdia Lancaster

Dear Kanye: Slavery Was Not and Will Never BE A CHOICE

Updated: Aug 25, 2020

It is undeniable that pop culture’s heavy hand of influence surreptitiously finds its ideas, opinions, and values seeping into each and every one of our minds, thought patterns, and behaviors.

It is also undeniable how large of a voice and platform celebrities have with anything that has to do with them and what comes spewing out of their mouths.

When Kanye West appeared on speaking about free thought and the weight of how important it is to be a free thinker today, no one was prepared for how he would choose to bring that idea to light.

He intro’d it by saying that “400 years of slavery was a choice.”

Come again?

Choice is irrelevant when a five-year-old girl is sold to the landlord for a night because her mom couldn’t make rent that month.

Choice is non-existent when a father sees an opportunity to support his family by accepting a job in another country to work as a legit landscaper, but is deceived once he crosses the border, is then stripped of his identification and documents, and severely threatened and forced to work the land for free accruing massive debt he’s unable to pay off.

Choice is trivial when a young lady is lured into a life of prostitution because she fell in love with a fantasy sold to her by her “boyfriend” aka pimp who only saw her as a commodity.

Choice implies that one makes a decision based on possibilities presented.

When there are no possibilities present, when circumstances are out of one’s control or capabilities to move beyond and are instead forced, coerced or manipulated into making “a choice,” then we’re talking about something completely different. 

We’re now talking about being exploited.

For most of us, the mere thought of such a statement is blasphemous and completely unfathomable.

What possibly could move a person to choose to say such a preposterous statement?!

Seriously, now. Come again?

Why this is not okay.

  1. It denies the existence of his ancestors that literally shed blood, sweat, and tears during their time of exploitation of which Kanye is now standing on and profiting from. 

  2. It’s basically wiping out an entire system of oppression that sought (and continues) to profit from exploiting vulnerable and “inferior” people in one fell swoop of 20 characters and 6 syllables. Ouch.

  3. It completely disregards the reality that slavery is still in existence today and wholly discounts the very real and traumatic experiences of those who’ve survived modern-day slavery and the 40 million men, women, and children who are still victims of bondage today. 

  4. It’s a dangerous lie with serious implications that challenge the facts of history in an attempt to forge a new truth that victim blames and negates slavery as a crime against humanity.

  5. It’s an apathetic, disrespectful, negligent and irresponsible statement to make. Period.

Truth be told, slavery was not, still isn’t, and never will be a choice.

To be clear, slavery is the exploitation of another human being for a personal or commercial benefit. 

Or explicitly defined as

The state or condition of being a slave; a civil relationship whereby one person has absolute power over another and controls his or her life, liberty, and fortune.

src: Collins Dictionary

Living in the era of “alternative facts,” more and more of our minds are flooded with ideas, opinions, arguments, and such that border on truth or are presented as truth, but are flat out lies. 

This brings on confusion, suspicion, skepticism, intolerance, and the green light to say anything and everything without responsibility or accountability because “I am speaking MY truth.”

But is truth truly relative?

Is real truth wavering?

Don’t we all subscribe to some universal truths and principles, such as the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all human beings?

Don’t we all have the desire to live by those universal truths and principles and to uphold them at all costs?

We are all susceptible to falling for things that fall short of what is true. 

But let us not be fooled into thinking and then later, end up believing that lies ARE truth.

Let us have the determination and diligence to ferret out the truth and to stick by it, hold onto it dearly, and OWN it.  For when we do not OWN it, new truths that pop up out of nowhere somehow seem enticing to fall for and envelop.

Let us be steadfast in guarding what is true so it is not stamped out, snuffed or rebuffed.

Let us stand by the truth and guide others by it, for don’t we want others to wake up to the truth and be enlightened by it too?

Instead of talking down or completely disregarding what is false, let us address it, declare, and expose the lies for what they truly are – lies masquerading as truth.

Lastly, let us be unwavering, fearless, and courageous to acknowledge what is true by living the truth

For by living it, we become it and are beacons of truth for others to follow suit.

How will you become a guiding light, a beacon of truth for others?

New Hope Foundation International
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