Posted: May 02, 2018
By Kelcie Willis, Cox Media Group National Content Desk
LOS ANGLES —
Soon after receiving criticism and being the cause of #IfSlaveryWasAChoice, Kanye West tweeted some clarification on his remark that 400 years of slavery “sounds like a choice” on TMZ Live.
“Do you feel like I’m thinking free and feeling free?” West asked the newsroom after making the comment.
“I actually don't think you’re thinking anything,” Lathan said. “I think what you're doing right now is actually the absence of thought and the reason why I think that is because, Kanye, you’re entitled to your option. 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 marginalization 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 offered to come over and give Lathan a hug. He also repeatedly said that he loved him.
“To make myself clear. Of course I know that slaves did not get shackled and put on a boat by free will,” West tweeted after appearing on TMZ Live.
He continued the thought with a series of other tweets, including a reference to the William Lynch speech, widely considered to be a hoax, and a quote attributed to Harriet Tubman that she never actually said.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Rapper Kanye West visited the TMZ newsroom for an eye-popping interview Tuesday morning which included professing his love for President Donald Trump and ended with a staff member sternly reprimanding him after West made comments suggesting slavery was “a choice.”
“I just love Trump. That’s my boy,” he said in response to a question from TMZ chief Harvey Levin about West’s penchant for wearing a “Make America Great Hat.”
He discussed various topics including his “free thought” stance in a sort of stream-of-consciousness style before things went off the rails.
“When you hear about slavery for 400 years. For 400 years? That sounds like a choice,” he said, provoking looks of stunned silence, then this impassioned rebuke from TMZ’s Van Lathan.
“I don’t think you’re thinking anything. I think what you’re doing is the absence of thought. Kanye, you’re entitled to your 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,” Lathan 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 of slavery that you said, for our people, was a choice,” he said.
“Frankly, I’m disappointed, I’m appalled, and brother I am unbelievably hurt by the fact that you have morphed into something that for me, is not real.”
A twitter storm followed.
On April 18, Kanye West met with radio personality Charlamagne tha God at West’s Los Angeles home for a two-hour interview.
The sprawling chat covered rumors that the 40-year-old rapper and father of three had a breakdown and was hospitalized, his relationship with JAY-Z, his political views, controversial tweets and how he felt after his wife was robbed in Paris, among other things.
Here are some quotes from West’s interview, which was posted in full to his YouTube page May 1.
On therapy: “I use the world as my therapist. Anyone I talk to is my therapist. I will pull them into the conversation of what I’m feeling at that point and get their perspective. … I like just talking to acquaintances, friends, family, and I keep them on the phone for 45 minutes at a time, talking through things. It’s kind of narcissistic.”
On his relationship with JAY-Z: “We’re good. We’re texting each other. It’s positive energy. I haven’t seen him, but I can feel him. … I was hurt about (him and Beyoncé) not coming to the wedding. I understand I was going through some things, but if it’s family, you’re not going to miss a wedding. I’m not using this interview to put out any negative things, but I gotta state my truth. … I’m past it, but at the time I was hurt.”
On Kim Kardashian’s robbery in Paris: “I went to Paris on that trip to protect her. Not protect her physically, but to go and just help her with her looks cause she’s in Paris. … One of the things that she said that she heard was that they were coming to rob her and they had to wait till I had left. The people had been strategizing and scheming on that for a long time. So when she finally got to Paris by herself, they were like, ‘OK, this is our chance.’ … If she wasn’t here, I would never forgive myself.”
On the effect of his 2016 hospitalization affected his confidence: “One of the things that was incredible when I got out of the hospital was, I had lost my confidence. I never had the empathy for people who lacked confidence. I had so much of it I didn’t know what it was like to be without it. I didn’t have that Black Panther, Superman-level confidence.”
On interrupting Taylor Swift’s speech at the 2009 MTV VMAS: “It’s not that I’m particularly fighting for Beyoncé’s video. It’s every time award show has ever done that. Just (expletive) with artists. We are H.S.P., highly sensitive people. Artists! That’s what you love about us. So you gon line up a whole bunch of artists and put us in some bum-(expletive) suits and (expletive) -- idea from, like, 200 years ago. We dressed like we 200 years ago, lined up trying to wait for a gold statue. And you gon make us feel like (expletive)? There’s five of us, and four of us gotta go to our restaurant with our friends and be like, “Man, we ain’t win nothin’.” (Expletive) that. Man, (expletive) that.”
On President Donald Trump: “I don’t have all the answers that a celebrity’s supposed to have, but I can tell you that, when he was running, it’s like I felt something. The fact that he won, it proves something. It proves that anything is possible in America. Donald Trump can be president of America. I’m not talking about what he's done since he's in office. But the fact that he was able to do it -- remember when I said I was gonna run for President? I had people that was close to me, friends of mine, making memes, talking (expletive), now it’s like, oh, that was proven that that could have happened ... from what we’ve been doing in fashion to me wearing the pink polos, to me being out-spoken, to me being ostracized because of the Taylor Swift thing, or the George Bush thing, who I’m dating, who I’m marrying, who I’m talking about, all of this is an outsider thing. When I see an outsider infiltrate, I connect with that.”
On former President Barack Obama: “See Obama met with me and my mother (Donda West, who died in 2007) to let me know he was going to run for office because I am his favorite artist of all time -- because I am the greatest artist of all time. It only makes sense. He’s got good taste. …
“It would’ve been good if this video didn’t get out, but you saw the video (when Obama called West a ‘jackass’ for interrupting Swift’s speech). You know, he never called me to apologize. The same person that sat down with me and my mom, I think should have communicated to me directly. ... He had so much stuff to deal with that he couldn’t deal with a wild card like me.”
On his mental breakdown: “I’m happy it happened. I’m happy to have gone to the other side and back.”
On taking medication for his mental health: “It’s an imperfect solution just to calm me down. But there’s a lot of ways to calm down.”
On his tweets: “The thoughts that I’m getting out on Twitter now … I’m not doing it as a form of personal therapy. It’s just an innate feeling. I want to express. I decided to use this platform to express some breakthroughs that I’ve had since going to the hospital. … I felt the need to speak at this point. When you look at five years from now, or 10 years from now, I’ll have even more experience. I’ll be in a better place than I am today. … I’m not trying to say the right thing; I’m just saying exactly what I feel out of love.”
On Kardashian’s use of social media and reality TV: “I like the way that my wife communicates and documents things. I think it’s good to document ourselves, document our now. See if we can recognize ourselves in a different life, in a different light.”
On what ‘old Kanye’ would say think of Kanye now: “I think he’d be happy, satisfied. And he would believe it. You know how people say, ‘Oh I wouldn’t believe it’? I always believed it. I always know what it is. You know, this documentation right now, this is just the age 40 -- this is a version of ‘The College Dropout’ Ye.”
On Tuesday, the rapper made an appearance on the show to chat about his return to Twitter and his definition of free thought.
While explaining his views, he mentioned slavery.
“When you hear about slavery for 400 years. For 400 years? That sounds like a choice,” he said.
Many used the trend to create fictitious scenarios, where enslaved African-Americans from previous centuries experienced freedom without suffering dangerous consequences.
Several imagined what it would have been like had slaves refused to work or follow rules without punishment.
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