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Hi, it’s 2018, and here are the leading scholars on slavery in America with visual aids to explain the concept of enslavement in the New York Times. To clarify: it was not a choice. Here, they made a video for non-readers.

Here we are, thanks to Kanyé West’s remark last week that slavery “seems like a choice” to him. But evidence and facts don’t really matter in the Kanyé school of thought, where freedom is defined as blanket justification for doing whatever you want. It’s the kind of freedom where you get to use Los Angeles’s dwindling water supply to green your vast hedges while the surrounding Hidden Hills area turns to dust. The kind of freedom where being Marie Antoinette is an ideal. The kind where you can dismiss all books and then write one. Etc.

So Janelle Monáe offered a “free thought” version of why the phrase “free thought” isn’t a free pass to spread misinformation, prop up hate, empower dangerous men, trample the poor, and propagate stereotypes:

I’m a free thinker, and here’s a free thought. I think that if free thinking is rooted in the oppression of minorities or black people or LGBTQIA people, of immigrants, of women, then I don’t fuck with your free thoughts. I just think that there has to be some balance. Slave masters also thought freely. And where did we get with that? So we really have to think about who we’re endorsing, we have to really think about what it means to freely think, if it’s at the expense of other people.


A Nigerian senator also offered him a free trip to come see the slave ports.