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Kanye West Claims 400 Years of Slavery a Choice, Sparks Outrage

West was invited by TMZ to talk about his recent tweets, free thought and Trump when he made the controversial comments, which have received massive backlash.

PTI

Updated:May 2, 2018, 6:09 PM IST
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Kanye West Claims 400 Years of Slavery a Choice, Sparks Outrage
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Los Angeles: Rapper Kanye West, who has been dominating headlines with his controversial tweets in support of President Donald Trump, has landed in fresh controversy by suggesting that 400 years of slavery was "a choice".

West was invited by TMZ to talk about his recent tweets, free thought and Trump when he made the controversial comments, which have received massive backlash. "When you hear about slavery for 400 years. For 400 years? That sounds like a choice. You was there for 400 years and it's all of y'all. It's like we're mentally in prison. I like the word prison because slavery goes too direct to the idea of blacks.

"Slavery is to blacks as the Holocaust is to Jews. Prison is something that unites as one race, blacks and whites, that we're the human race," said West. In the footage released by TMZ, West is then shown addressing the newsroom: "Do you feel that I'm being free and I'm thinking free?"

TMZ reporter Van Lathan, visibly angry, confronted the rapper, saying, "I actually don't think you're thinking anything. I think what you're doing right now is actually the absence of thought." Lathan told West that he was "unbelievably" hurt by his comments even though the rapper was entitled to his opinion.

"You're entitled to believe whatever you want. But there is fact, and real-world, real-life consequence behind everything that you just said. And 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 marginalisation that has come from the 400 years of slavery 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," Lathan said.

West's comments were met by anger and incredulity by the artistes and civil rights activists. Rapper Will.i.am told Good Morning Britain that West's comments were "ignorant" and "broke my heart ... when you're a slaved, you're owned... that's not choice, that's by force."

Civil rights activist Deray McKesson said West "continues to fuel the racist right-wing folks who believe that black people are responsible for their oppression." Filmmaker Ava DuVernay tweeted: "I've had it with @KanyeWest + @RKelly using the imagery of lynching as rebuttals re: their dastardly behaviour. 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?"

After the controversy, West, 40, took to Twitter to clarify his comments, stating that he was "being attacked for presenting new ideas". "We need to have open discussion and ideas on unsettled pain. To make myself clear. Of course I know that slaves did not get shackled and put on a boat by free will. 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.

"The reason why I brought up the 400 years point is that 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. Once again I am being attacked for presenting new ideas."

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| Edited by: Tarun Bhardwaj
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