Oh Kanye, if you don’t have anything smart to say, don’t say anything at all.
This weekend, Kanye West, donning his now signature ‘Make America Great Again’ hat, once again graced the social media stage. This time, Ye made headlines for Tweeting that the 13th amendment should be abolished. The tweet, which includes an image of Kanye wearing his favorite hat reads in full:
“This represents good and America becoming whole again. We will no longer outsource to other countries. We will build factories here in America and create jobs. We will provide jobs for all who are free from prisons as we abolish the 13th amendment. Message sent with love.”
Kanye’s most recent words are all too familiar to those of us who endured his viral rant earlier this year, in which he called slavery “a choice.”
It’s clear that Kanye seems to be struggling with his relationship with Black history and identity. Maybe the Kardashians have cast him to the depths of the sunken place. Or maybe, just maybe there is an inkling of truth to what Ye is saying?
No, not really. From a political standpoint, no part of the constitution can actually be abolished or taken away in the first place. From a socio-racial perspective, abolishing the amendment wouldn’t make sense because anyway, because the 13th amendment literally outlawed slavery in the United States, and led to the 14th and 15th amendments, which gave Black people citizenship, and the right to vote.
However, to be fair to Ye, the 13th amendment does come with a quite unbecoming 2nd clause. The amendment reads in full:
“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”
Basically, the amendment leaves a loophole for slavery to continue to exist in the states, as long as the person has been convicted of a crime. Of course we know that Black people are more likely to be arrested, and sentenced to longer jail time, even for the same crime as their white counterparts. Technically, all of the Black men who have fallen victim to the epidemic of mass incarceration can be subjected to involuntary servitude, ie slavery, under the 13th amendment.
This is clearly a systemic issue that is literally written into the most central part of the US government. If this is what Mr. West was getting at when he Tweeted about abolishing the 13th amendment, I’ll cut him a little slack for at least attempting to tackle what is a severely overlooked and pervasive issue. And according to his later Tweets, this is what he was referencing. Ye corrected himself, and clarified his points on the larger issue at hand. After the internet erupted in a firestorm to his initial statement, Kanye Tweeted:
“Not abolish but let’s amend the 13th amendment…the 13th amendment is slavery is disguise.”
Although it’s true that Kanye has said many things completely uprooted from fact and historical context, and that he should probably research before he speaks next time, it’s also true that the man is great at starting conversations. And sometimes those conversations, like this one, are more relevant then we’d expect to come from a 40-something year old man in a MAGA hat.