Kanye West Calls Slavery a 'Choice' and Says Prison 'Unites' Blacks and Whites

Kanye West dominated an episode of TMZ Live on Tuesday with more statements even more inflammatory than what he's been espousing on Twitter the past two weeks.

West appeared on the show alongside Harvey Levin, the controversial founder of TMZ. West discussed everything on the show, from his love of Donald Trump to his beliefs on slavery, which shocked everyone in the room.

"When you hear about slavery for 400 years — for 400 years?! That sounds like a choice. Like, you was there for 400 years and it's all of y'all? It's like we're mentally in prison," the rapper said.

"I like the word prison because slavery goes too direct to the idea of blacks. It is like slavery, holocaust. Holocaust, is Jews, and slavery is blacks. So prison is something that unites us as one race. Black and whites, one race. It is like we are one with the human race, we are human beings and stuff.

"Right now, we're choosing to be enslaved."

This diatribe elicited a furious response from at least one TMZ staffer. Sports writer Van Lathan, who is black, fired back at West from across the office.

"I actually don't think you're thinking anything," Lathan called out. "I think what you're doing right now is actually the absence of thought. And the reason why I feel like that is because, Kanye, you're entitled to your opinion. You're entitled to believe whatever you want. But there is fact, and real-world, real-life consequence behind everything that you just said.

"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, brother, I am unbelievably hurt by the fact that you have morphed into something, to me, that's not real."

West approached Lathan at his desk and said "I'm sorry I hurt you."

"Bro, you've got to be responsible," Lathan said. "Your voice is too big."

In the appearance, West also clarified his love of President Donald Trump as being more symbolic than political.

"I just love Trump," he said. "That's my boy. You know, so many rappers — you look at a video of Snoop Dogg lovin' Trump, but then he get in the office and now they don't love him. Trump is one of rap's favorite people."

He also said that the Make America Great Again hat he wore in a Twitter post last week was a statement about "free thought."


"It was really just my subconscious. It was a feeling I had, you know. Like, people — we're taught how to think. We're taught how to feel. We don't know how to think for ourselves. We don't know how to feel for ourselves. People say 'feel free,' but they don't really want us to feel free. I felt a freedom."