Kanye West's suggestion that slavery was a "choice" on TMZ Live Tuesday sparked a whole new level of outrage at the rapper, even after his two and a half weeks of controversial tweets.
West appeared on the gossip show alongside Harvey Levin, TMZ's controversial founder, and much of the outlet's staff. He made a number of inflammatory statements, including his theory that slavery was a "choice" on behalf of those that were enslaved.
"When you hear about slavery for 400 years — for 400 years?!" he said. "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."
"I like the word prison because slavery goes too direct to the idea of blacks," West continued. "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," the rapper said.
Fans and followers railed against the statement on Twitter, although West didn't even have to go that far to receive backlash. This diatribe elicited a furious response from TMZ sports writer Van Lathan. 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."
Lathan continued: "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."
Lathan's words were so powerful that actress Jamie Lee Curtis tweeted them, attributing them to the reporter.
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
Former NFL player Matthew A. Cherry addressed Lathan on Twitter, thanking him for speaking up to West's rant.
"Man @VanLathan thank you for saying what you said to Kanye," he wrote.
Fans tore into West's statements on Twitter, though he did not respond to any criticism.