As much as nobody wants to consider the possibility of Kanye West as president of the United States, his ostensibly serious moves towards running as a third-party candidate this fall has commanded the news cycle all month. The will-he-or-won’t-he energy of the last few weeks has been exhausting. But Ye never fails to show his true stripes, and desecrating the legacy of Harriet Tubman is the latest scandal that has the public saying, “Kanye just ain’t it.”
Right after West declared his presidential intentions via tweet on the 4th of July, the country was comforted to learn it was too late for the rapper to get on the ballot in several key states. New York Magazine actually reported last Tuesday that Ye had dropped out of the race. But the megalomaniacal artist soldiered ahead last week, paying $35,000 to appear on the ballot in Oklahoma.
Then on Sunday night, West held the first campaign event of his apparently-still-viable candidacy in North Charleston, South Carolina. About 20 minutes into his rally, Kanye declared that famed abolitionist Harriet Tubman “never actually freed the slaves.”
“She just had the slaves go work for other white people,” West said.
Right as those questionable words tumbled from Ye’s lips, 30-year-old Toni Fulton, who’d driven two hours across South Carolina with her sister to attend the event, decided she’d seen enough. In her now-viral video capturing West’s controversial comments, Fulton quips, “Yo, we leavin’ right now,” before the clip abruptly ends.
“We’re young, Black women and there weren’t a lot of us in the room,” Fulton told The Washington Post in the wake of Ye’s rally. “We know better than to be in a space that we’re not uplifted in. While he was saying a lot of crazy things that didn’t directly offend us, that was offensive and it wasn’t appropriate for us to be there anymore.”
West ultimately spoke for about an hour during his freewheeling campaign event, making other headline-grabbing comments about abortion, including his and Kim Kardashian-West’s choice to give birth to their daughter, North West. Planned Parenthood recently blasted West for making “offensive” claims about the organization in a wide-ranging interview with Forbes on July 8.
West’s comments about Tubman, however, struck a nerve on social media. Regular folks and celebrities alike took to their feeds to correct Kanye’s false statements and chastise him for targeting a Black, female historical hero. 50 Cent posted a clip of Ye’s speech on Instagram and captioned it: “What the f*** did he just say? This is all Jay Z’s fault.” Noname quipped, “KEEP HARRIET TUBMAN NAME OUT YOUR F***ING MOUTH!!!!!!!” Angie Thomas, author of The Hate U Give, tweeted: “If y’all don’t stop disturbing Harriet Tubman’s spirit with this foolishness…”
Notably, West’s comments about Tubman weren’t the only time he targeted a Black woman at Sunday night’s rally. In another viral clip from his campaign event, Kanye is seen yelling at Iesha Mars Daniels, who’d been invited onstage to ask a question about his political platform. “Your face is covered, so we don’t even know who you are,” West bellows at her, as the crowd erupts.
Daniels later filmed her own video giving context to the viral moment. She said she asked West a question about gun reform, which he didn’t answer, then launched into a long, rambling rant filled with factual inaccuracies. “I kept interrupting him and shouting over him the correct facts, because he has a large platform and he shouldn’t be saying incorrect things to people who look up to him,” Daniels explained. Kanye kicked her offstage after that, but not before calling Daniels a “sister soldier” who “wanted Wakanda not America.”
“He kinda just talked badly about Black women,” Daniels concluded. “So please don’t vote for Kanye West, because he’s just not qualified, y’all, and he just ain’t it.”
Our feelings exactly. Meanwhile, West had until noon today to collect the 10,000 signatures he needs to appear on the South Carolina ballot. Here’s hoping Sunday’s rally did enough damage to keep the rapper from clearing that threshold.