Kanye West Isn’t Apologizing For Calling Slavery “A Choice”
In the interview, he talked about a variety of things, including getting hooked on opioids after undergoing liposuction, and his love for “my boy” Trump. But it was his comments about slavery that sparked immediate outrage.
“When you hear about slavery for 400 years. For 400 years? That sound like a choice...It’s like we’re mentally imprisoned.”
Kanye West stirs up the TMZ newsroom over TRUMP, SLAVERY and FREE THOUGHT. There's A LOT more that went down ... and the fireworks are exploding on @TMZLive today. Check your local listings for show times. pic.twitter.com/jwVsJCMPiq— TMZ (@TMZ) May 1, 2018
TMZ staffer Van Lathan spoke up, saying “Kanye, you’re entitled to your opinion. You’re entitled to believe whatever you want. But there is fact and real-life consequence behind everything that you just said. While you are making music and being an artist and living the life that you’ve earned by being a genius, the rest of us in society have to deal with these threats to our lives. We have to deal with the marginalization that has come from the 400 years that you said for our people was a ‘choice.’ Frankly, I’m disappointed, I’m appalled, and brother, I am unbelievably hurt by the fact that you have morphed into something, to me, that’s not real.”
Despite apologizing to Lathan in the TMZ newsroom, West later took to Twitter to defend his statements.
we need to have open discussions and ideas on unsettled pain— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) May 1, 2018
to make myself clear. Of course I know that slaves did not get shackled and put on a boat by free will— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) May 1, 2018
My point is for us to have stayed in that position even though the numbers were on our side means that we were mentally enslaved— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) May 1, 2018
They cut out our tongues so we couldn't communicate to each other. I will not allow my tongue to be cut— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) May 1, 2018
the reason why I brought up the 400 years point is because we can't be mentally imprisoned for another 400 years. We need free thought now. Even the statement was an example of free thought It was just an idea— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) May 1, 2018
once again I am being attacked for presenting new ideas— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) May 1, 2018
when the media masses and scholars talk about what started today. Here's a title ...— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) May 2, 2018
the overground hell road
The outcry from Twitter was swift and intense, with many verified accounts decrying his comments and celebrating Lathan’s level-headed, articulate response.
Somebody needs to get @kanyewest a copy of Ed Baptist's "The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism" pronto.— Nikhil Goyal (@nikhilgoya_l) May 1, 2018
I don’t have the energy for nonsense but Kanye saying slavery was a choice reiterates my previous statements about how dangerous his trite, shallow ramblings are. He is not a free thinker. He is a free moron who doesn’t read. Do not @ me.— roxane gay (@rgay) May 1, 2018
— Talib Kweli Greene (@TalibKweli) May 1, 2018
I will always have love for @kanyewest but bro out here putting targets on our backs. Slavery was not a choice.
All you “Kanye needs to read a book” people, take it from your friendly neighborhood public historian: history isn’t just for books. Kanye was given a tour of @NMAAHC by @timothyanne. He has been exposed to this history. This isn’t ignorance.— DominiqueJL (@DominiqueJL15) May 1, 2018
Like... I’m disgusted. This asshat said slavery was a choice. You irresponsible, proximity to whiteness-obsessed goat. You obtuse, class high but classless clown.— Awesomely Luvvie (@Luvvie) May 1, 2018
What a fast and absolute fall from grace Kanye is taking.
Blaming this on his mother's death is just too easy. He's reached the point of no return.— Elle'Challa (@suburbnista) May 1, 2018
— Ike Barinholtz (@ikebarinholtz) May 1, 2018
1)Kanye is a giant loser and you can pinpoint the moment he realizes this stupid stunt was a bad idea
2)This dude working for TMZ is smart and calm and ballsy as hell and I never thought I’d say that? https://t.co/cuREY6psNJ
My guy in the cubicle should get all of Kanye's twitter followers https://t.co/dYd5yxFMAA— Miriti Murungi (@NutmegRadio) May 1, 2018
It is clear that @kanyewest is being sensational for the sake of publicity. I could care less about that. But for you to use the murder and holocaust of slavery for your own self aggrandizement is at the core of your vile appeasement of white supremacists.— Wendell Pierce (@WendellPierce) May 2, 2018
I’ve had it with @KanyeWest + @RKelly using the imagery of lynching as rebuttals re: their dastardly behavior. Evoking racial terrorism and murder for personal gain/blame is stratospheric in is audacity and ignorance. This is what lynching looked like. How dare they? pic.twitter.com/wfobcdjiKL— Ava DuVernay (@ava) May 2, 2018