“I think what you’re doing right now is actually the absence of thought.”
Kanye West caused a dramatic scene in the TMZ newsroom on Tuesday when one reporter took issue with West characterizing slavery as a “choice.”
Asked by TMZ founder Harvey Levin about what he was trying to do by donning a Make America Great Again hat on Twitter, West launched into a freewheeling rant on Donald Trump and slavery in America.
West highlighted how rappers frequently discussed Donald Trump in their music before he entered politics, saying unlike them, he still loved Trump. But when the conversation shifted to slavery, West was confronted by a staffer in the TMZ newsroom.
“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?”
“Do you feel that I’m feeling — do you feel that I’m thinking free and I’m being free,” West shouted, before TMZ reporter Van Lathan confronted him.
“I actually don’t think you’re thinking anything,” Lathan responded. “I think what you’re doing right now is actually the absence of thought.”
Lathan explained why he disagreed with West’s message on slavery, all while West stared in silence:
“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 that 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 to offer an apology, but Lathan didn’t appear interested. As the cameras cut off, Lathan urged Kanye to “be responsible” with his voice.