Following a TMZ interview with Kanye West, where the artist said 400 years of slavery sounded like a choice, a North Carolina State University history professor challenged his argument on Twitter, and the response went viral.
In an interview with TMZ Tuesday, the rapper spoke about his admiration for President Trump and suggested that slavery was a choice, according to TMZ.
"When you hear about slavery for 400 years — for 400 years? That sounds like a choice," West said. “Like, you were there for 400 years and it's all you all?"
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West went on to say, “It's like we're mentally imprisoned. I like the word 'imprisoned' because slavery goes too directly to the idea of blacks ... so prison is something that unites us as one race. Blacks and whites being one race. That we're the human race."
One of the employees at TMZ apparently took offense to West’s comment, which led to a “face-to-face,” according to the celebrity news site.
At one point in the interview, West turned around and addressed the TMZ employees behind him and said, “How many people felt something that I said today? Do you feel that I’m being free and I’m thinking free.”
TMZ’s Van Lathan responded, “I actually don’t think you’re thinking anything.”
“And 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 said to 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.”
The TMZ interview came after a week of criticism of the rapper for his controversial tweets showing his support for President Donald Trump. Last week West tweeted a photo of a 'Make America Great Again' hat signed by President Trump and another in which the rapper says they both have "dragon energy."
Blair LM Kelley, an associate professor at North Carolina State University, also found West’s comments offensive and challenged West’s claims on Twitter Tuesday, in a tweet that has been shared and liked by thousands. Kelley has taught courses on African-American history, African-American women's history and civil rights, according to her university biography.
West, however, defended his comment on Twitter, after his comment made headlines.
Some took West's comment literally, others understood it as a metaphor, as West later explained on Twitter.
Even if West spoke metaphorically, Kelley said she doesn’t want to give him a pass.
“I think he should apologize,” Kelley said in an interview with The News & Observer.
“We’ve done very little to acknowledge the sacrifices that (slaves) went through,” Kelley said. “It’s not something to joke about.”