Kanye West drew fierce criticism Tuesday when he proclaimed that slavery was a choice. The controversial rapper later tweeted a clarification of sorts, but that he said it at all left fans puzzled. Now, reports say the lack of medication could be to blame.
“You hear about slavery for 400 years. For 400 years?” West said on TMZ Live May 1. “That sound 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’ ’cause slavery goes too direct to the idea of Blacks.”
The remark was met with derision from fans and celebrities alike.
“Kanye literally said he thinks slavery was a choice but you people are there talking about ‘I see what he was trying to say,'” one Twitter user remarked. “B—-, he said he thinks slavery was a choice lmao. What again?”
“STOP giving Kanye a pass because of mental illness. A: you don’t know if he’s bipolar. B: my best friend is bipolar and the worst thing she ever did was forget to take her medicine, NOT SAY SLAVERY WAS A CHOICE,” tweeted comedian Quinta Brunson.
Stephen A. Smith offered, “Don’t usually get caught up in commenting about stuff like this but I saw what Kanye West said and I was ASHAMED. 400 Years of slavery a CHOICE???? Really! All I’ll say is this: I’m incredibly proud of that staffer from TMZ. Brilliant, Eloquent & totally appropriate response.#WTH.”
Meanwhile, Wendell Pierce said West should visit Black history museums.
“You @kanyewest need to visit the new memorial of the lynching victims, Whitney Plantation of Louisiana, Goreé Island, the slavery museum of Liverpool and learn about the suffering of this nightmare of human history,” he tweeted.
Hours after his controversial remarks, West tweeted that he obviously knew Africans did not board slave ships of their own volition.
“To make myself clear. Of course, I know that slaves did not get shackled and put on a boat by free will,” he tweeted. “My point is for us to have stayed in that position even though the numbers were on our side means that we were mentally enslaved. They cut out our tongues so we couldn’t communicate to each other. I will not allow my tongue to be cut.”
He added in another set of tweets that “Kanye vs the media is modern day Willie [Lynch] theory. They hung the most powerful in order to force fear into the others. They can no longer stop our voice. The Nat Turner movie never made it anywhere because it showed slaves revolting. I understand why my godbrother Puff calls his network Revolt.”
“The reason why I brought up the 400 years point is because we can’t be mentally imprisoned for another 400 years,” he explained further. “We need free thought now. Even the statement was an example of free thought It was just an idea.”
Still, folks disagreed.
“Slaves didn’t remain enslaved because they were mentally enslaved,” one person tweeted. “Slave owners prevented effective coordination of revolts by preventing slaves from gathering with armed patrols. There were many, many revolts but they were physically prevented by militarized force.”
“Not what you meant, but alright,” said someone else.
As for what lead West to make those comments in the first place, sources told TMZ the MC going off his medication could be to blame. The rapper admitted on “TMZ Live” that he left the hospital after his breakdown last year taking less than the recommended dosage. He currently takes only one or two pills weekly, versus three daily.
Sources added that doctors are unsure of what works for West as the rapper decides what to take on his own.