Keeping up with Kanye West these days is even more difficult than the Kardashian clan he’s married into. But despite his increasingly bizarre behaviour, it’s difficult to ignore the rapper-turned-mogul-turned-presidential-candidate.
After reports that West’s presidential campaign was already winding down, he staged his first campaign rally last night to prove that all is good. And let’s just say the rally in North Carolina didn’t exactly give anyone much assurance of that.
In a distinctly Trumpian, erratic speech, West made a lot of strange claims about deals with GAP and Adidas, as well as porn and abortion.
But one moment that’s upset people is comments he made about anti-slavery activist and Black icon Harriet Tubman.
What did Kanye say?
His exact words were:
Harriet Tubman never actually freed the slaves, she just had them work for other white people.
Who is Harriet Tubman and why is this upsetting?
Tubman is a legendary anti-slavery activist. Born into slavery in 1822, she escaped and subsequently made 13 missions to rescue approximately 70 enslaved people, including family and friends, using the network of antislavery activists and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad. At one point she had a huge bounty on her head, equivalent to around $1.2m today.
So for West to call her legacy into question is an extremely inflammatory thing to say.
How did people react?
According to people who were in the room, the crowd had been somewhat engaged with West’s speech until this moment, where groans could be heard with expressions like “come on, man”. Then the crowd appeared to go much more silent and people even walked out.
This isn’t the first time West has made controversial comments about slavery. But there’s a lot of anger towards him online, even if people aren't surprised he's saying controversial things.
People thought the remarks were "sad", "reprehensible" and "disturbing"...
Kanye West at his “campaign rally” in South Carolina: “Harriet Tubman never actually freed the slaves, she just had… https://t.co/AWdNInnTSf