Will.i.am has responded to Kanye West’s recent remark implying slavery was a choice, saying the outburst “broke my heart.”
The former member of the Black Eyed Peas appeared on Good Morning Britain Wednesday, where he was asked about the 40-year-old rapper’s controversial comment.
“That broke my heart, because I thought about my grandma, who was born in 1920, and her connection with her mom who raised her, who was born in the late 1800s. And my grandmother’s grandma, who was a slave,” he said. “And when you’re a slave, you’re owned. 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, 43, explained that there are still under-served communities facing “conditions where it’s not a choice,” giving the example of his own work to educate children in his hometown of East Los Angeles in computer science and robotics due to the lack of school funding.
“That statement was one of the most ignorant statements that anybody who came from the hood could ever say about their ancestors, that slavery is a choice.” he said. “What are you talking about?”
Although Will.i.am and West go back, the entertainer explained that his outburst wasn’t representative of the person that he knew.
“That’s not Kanye,” he asserted.
He went to clarify, “To me, that’s a different person that’s saying that, and I hope it’s not to raise awareness so you could 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. So 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.”
Will.i.am continued to speak out on Twitter, saying there’s a “new age slavery” happening.
During an interview on TMZ Live Tuesday, West sounded off on the centuries African-Americans spent shackled in servitude.
“You hear about slavery for 400 years. For 400 years?! That sounds like a choice,” he said. “You were there for 400 years and it was all of y’all? It’s like we’re meant to be in prison. I like the word ‘prison’ because slavery goes too direct to the idea of blacks…Prison is something that unites us as one race.”
In a series of tweets that have since been deleted, the rapper quickly apologized and clarified his comments on Twitter, writing, “to make myself clear. Of course I know that slaves did not get shackled and put on a boat by free will.”