Many high-profile individuals in the entertainment industry are publicly criticizing Kanye West after he proposed slavery was “a choice” made by African-Americans because it lasted 400 years. The controversial comment was made during an interview with TMZ.
During the show, TMZ staffer Van Lathan confronted West for his statement, labeling it “the absence of thought.” Others, including prominent authors, artists and directors also stepped up to condemn the rapper by fact-checking his remarks or calling for an end to his dangerous comments.
The 40-year-old rapper would later try to clarify his statement. “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,” he tweeted. However, that did not stop the backlash from some of his contemporaries.
Stop saying that what Kanye says doesn’t matter.
Literal white supremacists and Neo-Nazis around the world are sharing his most outrageous statements as fact.
He’s doing actual damage. It’s disturbing.
— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) May 2, 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
Kanye’s rhetoric continues to fuel the racist right-wing folks who believe that black people are responsible for their oppression.
— deray (@deray) 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
To be fair to Kanye, he might have meant slavery was a choice for white people.
— Romesh Ranganathan (@RomeshRanga) 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
There has NEVER been a moment in history when Black people didn’t resist slavery. Some did it by jumping off ships. Some killed masters. Some ran away. Some did it through everyday forms of resistance. Slave masters didn’t retire. Our resistance led to our freedom.
— Marc Lamont Hill (@marclamonthill) May 2, 2018
Haven’t watched the whole Kanye event today, working my way up to it. I will say, that a milder version of the “slavery is a choice” argument is made by uninformed people all the time. I’ve had young men in my courses say “they never would have enslaved me.”See Also
— Blair LM Kelley (@profblmkelley) May 2, 2018
That’s not Kanye West .. That’s Kanye East ..next week he might be North or South..don’t let any of this take you down that road.. Not now.. We don’t have time to figure him out, he ain’t figuring you out is he?
— Paul Mooney (@PaulEalyMooney) May 2, 2018
— Jimmy Kimmel (@jimmykimmel) May 1, 2018
— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) May 2, 2018
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Christina Santi is a news and culture writer for EBONY.com. Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, she considers herself a well-read, not so traditional feminist with a heavy interest in music, fashion and pop culture. Christina currently lives in New York City, where she refers to her Cuban & Jamaican descent often while writing about her experiences as a first-generation Afro-Latinx in America. She also devotes time writing personalized reading material for her tutees and turning ideas into words for streetwear brand, PUER By Noel Bronson.