An associate professor of history responded Tuesday night to Kanye West’s argument that black people had chosen to be slaves, providing some context about the brutality of the slave trade.
“When you hear about slavery for 400 years ... for 400 years? That sounds like a choice,” the rapper had said earlier in the day during an appearance on TMZ Live.
Blair L. M. Kelley, who works at North Carolina State University and has taught numerous African-American studies courses, said she has heard “uninformed people” make similar claims.
“I’ve had young men in my courses say ‘they never would have enslaved me,’” she tweeted.
So she decided to post a little history lesson.
“People aren’t aware of the alienation of people ripped from their homes, abused, walked hundreds of miles across Africa, sometimes so far they ceased understanding the language spoken around them,” she wrote.
She then referred to the slave castles of Ghana, in which people were held in windowless dungeons, or “slave holes,” before being loaded onto British ships and sold in the Americas during the 18th century. Former President Barack Obama compared them to Nazi concentration camps in Germany.
Kelley went on to describe the horrific conditions slaves faced, both while being transported across the ocean and after they left the ships.
She pointed out that survivors “managed to make a way to make a new culture, remake family and faith,” even after enduring abuse for generations.
Kelley ended her thread by coming back to West’s comments.