Kanye West came under severe criticism for his regressive comment during a Tuesday segment on the TMZ Tuesday morning, where he said, "When you hear about slavery for 400 years … for 400 years? That sounds like a choice."
Several artists, musicians, and activists took to social media criticizing West's comments. Rapper Will.i.am called West’s comments "ignorant." It "broke my heart ... when you’re a slaved, you’re owned... that’s not choice, that’s by force," he told Good Morning Britain.
Prominent civil rights activist Deray McKesson said West "continues to fuel the racist right-wing folks who believe that black people are responsible for their oppression."
Another activist and TV host Marc Lamont Hill wrote: "There has never been a moment in history when Black people didn’t resist slavery... Our resistance led to our freedom."
The U.S. rapper and musician made the comment during an interview with the U.S. celebrity news website, TMZ, where he appeared with Candace Owens, a conservative writer.
"When you hear about slavery for 400 years … for 400 years? That sounds like a choice … It’s like we’re 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," West said.
A Black TMZ employee, Van Lathan called out West for his comments and schooled West on the antebellum era and the history of slavery.
Lathan blurted, "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."
During the verbal spar, Kanye asked, "Do you feel that I’m being free and I’m thinking free?"
"I actually don’t think you’re thinking anything,” Lathan responded. "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."
Lathan continued, "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 isn’t real." The TMZ employee lamented the repercussions of making such a reactionary comment.
"Your voice is too big," he told Kanye, and those are the realest words ever.
West who has been tweeting supportive comments favoring the U.S. president, said, that his comment comes from a place of love and he was expressing "free thought."
In one of the tweets, West called Trump his “boy” and explained why he tweeted a picture wearing a Make America Great Again cap. “I felt a freedom in doing something that everybody tells you not to do,” he said, according to the Guardian.