Ta-Nehisi Coates: Kanye's Ignorance Is 'Deep' and 'Dangerous'

Essayist calls out artist for comments on slavery
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted May 8, 2018 9:46 AM CDT
Ta-Nehisi Coates: Kanye's Ignorance Is 'Deep' and 'Dangerous'
Kanye West speaks at the MTV Video Music Awards in this 2016 photo.   (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)

Add Ta-Nehisi Coates to those criticizing Kanye West over his assertion that slavery was a "choice," along with West's previous statements about race in the US. The African-American essayist is out with a long, critical piece in the Atlantic, in which he writes that "West's ignorance is not merely deep, but also dangerous." Coates compares West to Michael Jackson, who famously lightened his skin. Jackson's "physical destruction was our physical destruction, because if the black God ... could not be beautiful in his own eyes, then ... what hope did we ever have of escaping the muck?" Coates also compares West to President Trump (West is a supporter), asserting that both are narcissists and "shockingly ignorant."

"West's thoughts are not original," writes Coates. The idea that "slavery was a 'choice' echoes the ancient trope that slavery wasn't that bad; the myth that blacks do not protest crime in their community is pure Giulianism; and West's desire to 'go to Charlottesville and talk to people on both sides' is an extension of Trump's response to the catastrophe." But the comments matter because "they are the propaganda that justifies voter suppression, and feeds police brutality, and minimizes the murder" of the woman killed while protesting in Charlottesville. "And Kanye West is now a mouthpiece for it." Read Coates' full essay here, or read a criticism of it as an "incoherent, divisive attack" in the conservative Federalist. (More Ta-Nehisi Coates stories.)

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