Black cultural figures from Ava DuVernay to Will.i.am and Spike Lee have condemned Kanye West for saying slavery for 400 years … that sounds like a choice
Kanye West has caused outrage among civil rights activists and fellow musicians, thanks to comments in which he implied black people were to blame for their enslavement.
In an interview with TMZ, West said: When you hear about slavery for 400 years for 400 years? That sounds like a choice Its like were mentally in prison. He later clarified his comments on Twitter, saying: 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.
His comments nevertheless prompted an instant and vociferous backlash, first of all in the TMZ newsroom, where host Van Lathan told West: While you are making music and being an artist and living the life that youve earned by being a genius, the rest of us in society have to deal with these threats to our lives.
Other rappers castigated West, including Talib Kweli, who said: I will always have love for Kanye West but bro out here putting targets on our backs. Slavery was not a choice.
Will.i.am told Good Morning Britain that Wests words broke my heart When youre a slave, youre owned. You dont choose if youre owned. When youre a slave youre deprived of education. Thats not choice, thats by force. So I understand the need to have free thought, but if your thoughts arent researched, that is just going to hurt those that are still in conditions where its not choice.
The shows host Piers Morgan later wrote in the Daily Mail, regarding Wests comments: Of all the offensive things any public figure could say, this strikes me as right up with denial of the Holocaust.
Film director Spike Lee wrote: SLAVERY… A CHOICE??? My Brother, OUR ancestors did not choose to be stolen from mother Africa. OUR ancestors did not choose to be ripped of our religion, language, culture. OUR ancestors did not choose to be murdered, lynched, castrated, raped, burnt at the stake, families sold apart. OUR ancestors built this country (on land stolen from the Native Americans) from the ground up under the institution of SLAVERY.