In an interview today on “Good Morning Britain,” the Black Eyed Peas star said West’s remarks “broke my heart,” referring to his appearance a day earlier on TMZ in which the rapper claimed the enslavement of Africans that was practiced in America in the 18th and 19th centuries was “a choice.” (Slavery was formally abolished upon the passing of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1865.)
“When you’re a slave, you’re owned. You don’t choose if you’re owned,” Will.i.am told host Piers Morgan. “When you’re a slave, you’re deprived of education. That’s not choice, that’s by force.”
He continued: “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?”
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During the TMZ segment with producers Charles Latibeaudiere and Harvey Levin, West expressed his support for Donald Trump and faced tough criticism from senior producer Van Lathan after his comments on slavery.
“When you hear about slavery for 400 years…for 400 years? That sounds like a choice,” he said.
Lathan retorted: “You’re entitled to believe whatever you want, but there is fact and real world, real life consequence behind everything that you just said.”
In the “Good Morning Britain” interview, Will.i.am connected West’s radical comments to his many enterprises, saying, “To me, that’s a different person that’s saying that. And I hope it’s not to raise awareness so you can sell a record and some shoes because that would be the worst thing to do — to stir up this very touchy race situation and you be the benefactor from it.”
Will.i.am even offered West a suggestion: “I encourage you, if you really believe this, give your shoes away for free. Give your album away for free. And 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.”
Following backlash, West has attempted to clarify his comments on Twitter, his go-to social media platform as of late. “Of course I know that slaves did not get shackled and put on a boat by free will,” he said. “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.”