US rapper Kanye West drew controversy on Tuesday after he described slavery as a “choice,” during a bizarre interview with celebrity gossip website TMZ.
“When you hear about slavery for 400 years. For 400 years? That sounds like a choice,” West said during the interview, a video of which was posted on TMZ.
TMZ employee Van Lathan was enraged by the comments, and fired back from across the news room, telling West he was “disappointed” and “appalled” by the comment.
“The rest of us in society have to deal with these threats to our lives, we have to deal with the marginalization that’s come from the 400 years of slavery that you said for our people was a choice,” he said.
Millions of Africans were brought to the United States as slaves, beginning in the 16th century. The practice was not abolished until the late 19th century, after which former slaves still faced widespread discrimination.
West has also stirred up controversy by becoming a prominent supporter of President Donald Trump, who has been accused of racism.
“I just love Trump, that’s my boy,” West said during Tuesday’s interview. “Trump is one of rap’s favourite people.”
After his slavery comments caused a flood of criticism on social media, West took to Twitter to defend himself.
“To make myself clear. Of course I know that slaves did not get shackled and put on a boat by free will,” he wrote. “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.”