Kanye West made quite the splash yesterday during his explosive interview with TMZ Live, especially when he was confronted by newsroom staffer Van Lathan. The senior producer took offense when the rapper expressed his stance on slavery.
“When you hear about slavery for 400 years – for 400 years?! That sounds like a choice,” West said. “Like, you was there for 400 years and it’s all of y’all? You know like, it’s like we’re mentally in prison.”
West then addressed the newsroom staffers saying, “Do you feel like I’m thinking free and feeling free.” Lathan was the only person to respond to West, expressing his disappointment in the rapper’s controversial statement.
“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,” Lathan told West. “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, brother, I am unbelievably hurt by the fact that you have morphed into something, to me, that’s not real,” Lathan finished.
The shocking confrontation immediately resonated with people on social media. The praise for Lathan was immediate and strong, even from celebrities.
Thank you @VanLathan for speaking up. Your clear, openhearted statement inspired many today.
— Jessica Chastain (@jes_chastain) May 2, 2018
There is fact & real world, real life consequence behind everything you just said…the rest of us in society have to deal with these threats to our lives. We have to deal with the marginalization…from the 400 years of slavery that u said for our people was a choice.@VanLathan
— Jamie Lee Curtis (@jamieleecurtis) May 1, 2018
— Chloe Bennet (@chloebennet) May 2, 2018
Don’t usually get caught up in commenting about stuff like this but I saw what Kanye West said and I was ASHAMED. 400 Years of slavery a CHOICE???? Really! All I’ll say is this: I’m incredibly proud of that staffer from TMZ. Brilliant, Eloquent & totally appropriate response.#WTH
— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) May 2, 2018
Y'all see how Van Lathan was hidden back in the cut but rose up to make his eloquent points?
Imagine how many brothers are just as eloquent, and just as hidden, on platforms we don't control.
Imagine what we could do and who we could reach with our own mics?
— Torraine Walker (@TorraineWalker) May 2, 2018
Van Lathan, you speak with intelligence, great passion and heart. Nothing Kanye has done puts him above you.
— Gamora (@exoticgamora) May 2, 2018
Just watched @VanLathan’s full rebuttal to Kanye on TMZ Live right now and it’s even better in full.
Legit chills. Thanks for keeping it real.
— Ryan Satin (@ryansatin) May 2, 2018
Please remember the real winner in the Kanye vs. Van Lathan thing is Harvey Levin.
Invest in Black banks.
— Yassir Lester (@Yassir_Lester) May 2, 2018
West attempted to clarify his thoughts on slavery with a series of now-deleted tweets. He wrote: “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.”
Today Lathan appeared on The Real and rejected the rapper’s opinion.
— The Real (@TheRealDaytime) May 2, 2018
“Slavery was a multifront war that was fought against people of color,” he told the hosts. “It involved the ripping apart of families, it involved actual physical shackles, it involved all different types of things. And you can’t sum it up by any one thing. … When you start breaking it down by choice, that is doing a disservice to the survivors that my ancestors were, who endured all of those things, so I could be on The Real talking to you ladies right now.”
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