2019 Year-End Charts

Kanye West Defends Comments That Slavery Was a Choice: 'We Can't Be Mentally Imprisoned for Another 400 Years'

UPDATE: Kanye West deleted the bulk of his Tuesday tweets defending his controversial slavery comments -- including the one that includes a quote from Harriet Tubman that hasn't been verified by historians -- but you can still read all the tweets below and see which ones were not deleted.

Kanye West is clarifying some controversial comments he made about slavery during a recent appearance on TMZ Live.

“When you hear about slavery for 400 years…for 400 years? That sounds like a choice,” he said in the interview on Tuesday (May 1), which he followed up with “Right now, we’re choosing to be enslaved.”

The comments garnered an angry response from black TMZ staff member, Van Lathan, who said West’s observation was made with “the absence of thought.” "I'm appalled, and brother I am unbelievably hurt by the fact that you have morphed into something to me that isn't real," Lathan continued.

Following the remarks, Ye took to Twitter to provide a bit of an explanation, noting that he is aware that slaves were not “shackled and put on a boat by free will.”

In a string of tweets, he said that he was using the enslavement as a metaphor for censorship and restrain from free thought, which he will not be subject to. “They cut out our tongues so we couldn’t communicate to each other. I will not allow my tongue to be cut,” he wrote.

Among messages comparing himself to abolitionist Harriet Tubman, West explained, “the reason why I brought up the 400 years point is because we can't be mentally imprisoned for another 400 years. We need free thought now. Even the statement was an example of free thought. It was just an idea.”

Read the entire thread below.

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