Kanye West is a controversial celebrity who built his personal brand on his self-proclaimed greatness, never-ending self-promotion, and fits of rage, which can result from the slightest criticism of him or anything else that happens to offend him. In these respects, Kanye West is Donald Trump’s brother, which is an observation West made in support of the US President. His statements, of course, provoked backlash against him from Trump critics and a sizable portion of the rapper’s own fan base. Obviously, people, even public figures, are entitled to have divergent political views from those who support them for nonpolitical reasons. What truly angered and alienated people from all walks of life, however, was Kanye West’s pronouncement that slavery was a choice. He then rationalized his argument by proclaiming himself an alleged free thinker, which he did by regurgitating widely used Right-Wing propaganda.
As someone who has used his celebrity bully pulpit to claim things like AIDS was a man-made disease "placed in Africa just like crack was placed in the black community to break up the Black Panthers" and "George Bush doesn't care about black people," Kanye West is the last person anyone would expect to support a Conservative Republican-allied like Donald Trump, who continually makes racially disparaging remarks and receives the support of white supremacists. Suffice it to say, Kanye West is being framed as a sellout for his support of Donald Trump alone. While West’s decision to liken himself to Jesus Christ and pose on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine with a thorny crown in 2009 alienated much of Trump’s conservative base, his slavery remark has now united people from across the political spectrum against him.
Like Donald Trump, it seems Kanye West is very good at using his controversial nature to force important issues into public view. Although the reality is that Kanye West’s motivation was most likely limited to “I’m the greatest” and “pay attention to me,” his proclamation that slavery was a choice does invite a very powerful discussion. Where West, and whoever implanted into his brain the ridiculous notion that slaves could have chosen to be free, thoroughly distorted the meaning of choice, the slave mentality is actually predicated on self-disempowerment. A unarmed slave owner should be able to give a well-indoctrinated slave a loaded gun and remain safe. Like all acts of control and abuse, enslavement shapes the victim into a willing victim.
With nearly 50 millions slaves still found throughout the world, along with countless more abuse victims, Kanye West’s misguided, ill-conceived statements evoke a very important discussion that could help free countless people from the control of others. Greater action is needed to police human traffickers and abuser throughout the world while abusive governments and powerful actors need to be confronted. By better understanding the notion of choice, however, more people better can, at the very least, better understand the plight of the enslaved and abused. They can, in turn, help find ways to help victims. Victims of abuse are not simply helpless victims as they are also willing victims. In many respects, victims make choices that ultimately lead to their mistreatment. That said, these willing victims gradually lose the ability to choose not to be victims as abusers slowly seduce their pray into circumstances that make them helpless. In the case of forced slavery, that part of the process is easily accomplished.
The word choice is a powerful term that can be grossly misleading. People of affluent backgrounds have the ability to make near instant and direct choices; whereas, the less affluent must correctly make a series of smaller choices to achieve the end result of the one choice that the more affluent individual has had the opportunity to make. Because these choices cost in terms of resources, including money, time, missed opportunities, energy, and emotion, the disempowered can quickly become exhausted, thus they are essentially set up to fail and will most likely fail. What abusive individuals do is lure their victims into situations where they must make so many correct choices to achieve their interests, i.e. their wants, needs, and freedom, that they quit or direct their energies into more fruitful endeavors, instead of addressing their plight. Accordingly, victims of abusers, as well as victims of any kind of manipulator, are unable to make the choices they need to make.
In terms of emotional, social, and economical choices, victims become locked into serving their victimizers' interests and whims. With that in mind, most victims retain some degree of freedom. With meaningful help from an outside support network, the victims of abusers and other manipulators can eventually increase their degree of freedom. In other words, victims with adequate support from family, friends, and community can make the right small choices that will eventually allow them to achieve a healthy lifestyle, if given enough time, appropriate support, and opportunity while there are fairly easy ways to help safeguard people from the psychological aspects of enslavement and the grooming abuse victims undergo. Obviously, those who find themselves in far more dire circumstances need greater help. Quite frankly, the longer someone is trapped in an abusive environment, the more reliant that individual will be on outside support. Accordingly, communities need to learn how to better recognize and respond to the plights of victims sooner.
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