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Ta-Nehisi Coates ties the Kanye West controversy to Michael Jackson, slavery, and his own struggles with newfound fame

Essayist Ta-Nehisi Coates weighed in on the controversy surrounding Kanye West's support of President Trump on Monday with a powerful essay in The Atlantic touching on Michael Jackson, slavery, and his own struggles with the "weight of celebrity."

Coates recalls hearing West for the first time in 2001, writing that "all I can say is that when I heard Kanye, I felt myself back in communion with something that I felt had been lost, a sense of ancestry in every sample, a sound that went back to the separated and unequal, that went back to the slave." Coates, though, ties West to another "black god dying to be white," Michael Jackson, and writes that "we suffer for this, because we are connected. Michael Jackson did not just destroy his own face, but endorsed the destruction of all those made in similar fashion."

Coates additionally shuts down West's defense of his opinions in the face of "thought police."

West calls his struggle the right to be a "free thinker," and he is, indeed, championing a kind of freedom — a white freedom, freedom without consequence, freedom without criticism, freedom to be proud and ignorant; freedom to profit off a people in one moment and abandon them in the next; a Stand Your Ground freedom, freedom without responsibility, without hard memory; a Monticello without slavery, a Confederate freedom, the freedom of John C. Calhoun, not the freedom of Harriet Tubman, which calls you to risk your own; not the freedom of Nat Turner, which calls you to give even more, but a conqueror's freedom … [The Atlantic]

Read Coates' entire essay, including his own reckoning with celebrity, at The Atlantic.