Kanye West has suggested that slavery in the United States was a choice by those enslaved, prompting a black TMZ reporter to challenge him in a heated exchange for his recent comments.
“When you hear about slavery for 400 years. For 400 years? That sounds like a choice!” Kanye said during an interview before the confrontation.
“Like, you was there for 400 years, and it’s all y’all? You know, it’s like, we’re mentally in prison. I like the word prison because slavery goes too direct to the idea of blacks,” Kanye continued.
“Prison is something that unites us as one race. Blacks and whites being one race," he continued. "That we’re the human race.”
The comments followed after the hip-hop artist reactivated his Twitter account and began posting a series of tweets that drew heavy criticism. In some of the tweets he praised President Donald Trump, and went so far as to post a picture of himself wearing a Make America Great Again hat.
“Do you feel that I’m being free, and I’m thinking free?” Kanye is shown in a TMZ video before the confrontation.
“I actually don’t think you’re thinking anything. I think what you’re doing right now is actually the absence of thought,” the TMZ reporter, Van, responded from across the room.
“And the reason why I feel like that is because, Kanye, you’re entitled to your opinion, you’re entitled to believe whatever you want, but there is real life consequence behind everything that you just said.”
Van argued that Kanye is able to say whatever he wants in part because he is removed from the dangers that face people of lesser means in America, where the ugly history of racism still casts a shadow over the lives of many in black and minority communities.
“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,” he said. “We have to deal with the marginalization that has come from 400 years of slavery that you said for our people was a choice. Frankly, I’m disappointed. I’m appalled. And, brother, I’m unbelievably hurt by the fact that you have morphed into something that, for me, is not real."
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