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“Once again, I am being attacked for presenting new ideas,” Kanye West tweeted on Tuesday evening. It’s just one of the latest tweets penned by the rapper and fashion mogul since he’s announced his status as a “free thinker,” offending thousands daily with each message connecting himself to far-right pundits and President Donald Trump.
Except, this time, it would appear that West is failing to bounce back from this latest round of criticism—and with good reason. By “new ideas,” West was referring to his assertion on TMZ hours earlier that 400 years of slavery was “a choice.” And by “being attacked,” West was referring to Twitter’s mocking reaction, showing him what life would have really been like for enslaved Africans had slavery been a choice.
“When you hear about slavery for 400 years—for 400 years? That sounds like a choice,” West said. “You was there for 400 years, and it’s all of y’all? It’s like we’re mentally in prison.”
Using the hashtags #IfSlaveryWasAChoice and #IfSlaveryWereAChoice, Twitter users punched up at West’s backasswards thoughts on slavery and carved out space online to really deconstruct what having “choice” in an “employment situation” looks like.
Some tweeted about just being able to, you know, leave enslavement.
Others tweeted about being able to excel within slavery as an industry, going to college, and being assigned to working in the house versus the fields, or “embezzling” cotton to make into “a brunch fit.”
And some discussed the “work culture,” like being able to “set up playlists,” “file intellectual property lawsuits,” and “not wanting to put in effort at the end of a shift.” You know, things that people with jobs they’ve chosen to do sometimes get to do, but definitely not enslaved people.
Some tweeted about joining Harriet Tubman on the Underground Railroad, referencing history that might do West some good to get reacquainted with.
Some tweeted about what it would look like to stand up to their slave owner, using some of the internet’s most beloved memes and vines to show that, if slavery had been a choice, they wouldn’t have taken such abuse. But, again, people did not choose to become and remain enslaved, and avoiding such abuse was also not an option.
Overall, the hashtags turned an outright false and insulting statement into a moment of satire and wit, once again showing West that he should probably reconsider his position on team “Never read books.” Because, even though West later tweeted that he “knows” that slavery wasn’t a “choice,” the next time he goes off perpetuating some other racist, misinformed understanding of institutional oppression, his critics might not respond as gently as laughing him off with vines and memes.
Samantha Grasso is a former IRL staff writer for the Daily Dot with a reporting emphasis on immigration. Her work has appeared on Los Angeles Magazine, Death And Taxes, Revelist, Texts From Last Night, Austin Monthly, and she has previously contributed to Texas Monthly.