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Will.i.am criticises Kanye West over ‘ignorant’ slavery remark

Rapper Will.i.am has criticised Kanye West’s “harmful” and “ignorant” suggestion that slavery in America was a choice.

West sparked controversy when he said during an interview with TMZ Live: “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 Voice UK star Will.i.am told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “That statement was one of the most ignorant statements that anybody that came from the ‘hood could ever say about their ancestors, that slavery is a choice. What are you talking about?”

He added: “That’s not Kanye.

“To me that’s a different person that’s saying that. And I hope it’s not to raise awareness so he could sell a record and some shoes, because that would be the worst thing to do.

“To stir up a very touchy race situation and you be the benefactor from it.

“So I encourage you, if you really believe this, give your shoes away for free, give your album away for free – I don’t like talking about going against my community, but that is harmful.

“I will not throw my ancestors under the bus to profit.”

He also said that West’s comments “broke my heart”, because it made him think of his “grandmother’s grandma, who was a slave”.

“When you’re a slave, you’re owned,” he added.

“You don’t choose if you’re owned. When you’re a slave you’re deprived of education. That’s not choice, that’s by force.”

Will.i.am had previously tweeted West following his controversial interview, saying: “I want to personally put together and donate a #FIRST robotics team at the high-school you went to in Chicago in your name…

“I’ve been doing it for 8 years in the ghetto I’m from and all my kids do is present and build future ideas… #imTIREDofTHISnoise.”

Good Morning Britain presenter Piers Morgan praised Will.i.am for his interview, tweeting: “Wow. That may have been the most powerful 5 minutes in @GMB history. Thank you @iamwill for your candour & brutal, passionate honesty. I hope @kanyewest gets to hear it.”

Many others have reacted to West’s remarks, including Britain’s Got Talent star David Walliams, who wrote on Twitter: “Please never utter another word @kanyewest I love your music & you are ruining it.”

West’s friend, musician John Legend, retweeted a post that read: “Kanye’s rhetoric continues to fuel the racist right-wing folks who believe that black people are responsible for their oppression.”

Comedian Romesh Ranganathan wrote: “Kanye West is an incredible advert for finishing college.”

Comedian David Baddiel also tweeted, referring to West’s comment from the interview in which the rapper said: “I like the word prison because slavery goes too direct to the idea of blacks. It’s like slavery, Holocaust. Holocaust, Jews. Slavery is blacks.”

Baddiel highlighted the Holocaust quote and wrote: “So. Just a heads up, Kanye: that wasn’t a choice, either.”

US actress Tatyana Ali tweeted: “Remember when we got a list of books to read over the summer? Could we all please send @kanyewest a list? One suggestion: Slavery and Social Death by Orlando Patterson. Reading is fundamental. #KanyeInterview #SlaveryWasAChoice.”

Strictly Come Dancing professional Oti Mabuse shared a gif of Danny DeVito shaking his head, and wrote: “Kanye Kanye Kanye …”.

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