After going on a Twitter spree praising Trump the week prior, Kanye West called slavery a "choice" during an interview with TMZ on Tuesday. "When you hear about slavery for 400 years ... For 400 years? That sounds like a choice," he told TMZ. As you can imagine, the Internet doesn't know what to do with itself. Some people are going on angry rants of their own, and others are creating memes to show just how ridiculous (and wrong) his suggestion is.
During the interview, Kanye said:
You were there for 400 years and it was all of y’all? It’s like we’re meant to be in prison. I like the word ‘prison’ because slavery goes too direct to the idea of blacks…Prison is something that unites us as one race.
As People reported, TMZ staffer Van Lathan immediately called West out for his comments, saying what a lot of people were probably thinking after hearing West's words. "I actually don't think you're thinking anything," Lathan shot back when West claimed he was just thinking freely.
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 frankly, brother, I’m unbelievably hurt by the fact that you have morphed into something that, to me, is not real.
West was quick to apologize for "hurt[ing] you with my words,” but defended the offensive remarks on Twitter later that night, sticking with them.
"The reason why I brought up the 400 years point is because we can’t be mentally imprisoned for another 400 years," Kanye tweeted to try and reason through the remark. "We need free thought now. Even the statement was an example of free thought It was just an idea." He went on to claim he's being "attacked" for "presenting new ideas." As it turns out, he's used the concept of "free thinking" to justify many of his more controversial viewpoints over the last week or so. He made a similar point on Friday, when he tweeted, "I haven't done enough research on conservatives to call myself or be called one. I'm just refusing to be enslaved by monolithic thought."
Kanye's claims to TMZ were frankly shocking — and they may have been even more so if you tuned into his earlier radio interview with Charlamagne Tha God. On Tuesday, Kanye released an almost two-hour-long video of his interview with the radio host and it touched on everything from the moment he became more humble to Trump as president.
He opened up, for instance, about being hospitalized back in 2016 during what he refers to as both a "breakthrough" as well as a "breakdown." He also said that Trump winning the election proved to him that "anything is possible in America." Though some of his points were certainly controversial (and still offensive), he came across as a somewhat more relatable person to the public. His TMZ appearance later on, however, shattered that for lots of people.
"Damn... I wish Charlemagne interview was the last thing we heard from Ye ..." radio host and media executive Ebro Darden tweeted following the TMZ fiasco. "Yeah, last time I went to the grocery store I had to pick between milk and slavery," writer Kashana Cauley posted. It's clear that people are disappointed — to say the least — in how Kanye's choosing to use his platform as of late.