Will.I.Am says he is 'heartbroken' by Kanye West slave comments
Will.I.Am says he is "heartbroken" by comments made by Kanye West during an interview in which he claimed black slaves made a choice to be forced to work.
The singer and judge of The Voice told Good Morning Britain that he comments were hurtful and said that the comments were "one of the most ignorant statements that anybody that came from the hood could ever have made".
It comes after West told TMZ that he thought those forced to work for the profit of others had made a choice to do so and that 400 years of slavery wouldn't have happened without people happily subjecting to it.
The star, who was on the show to promote his new range of glasses available through Specsavers, decided to discuss the controversy instead of promoting his own product.
Fans are waiting in hot anticipation of his return to The Voice Kids later in the year, it's expected he'll be in the big red chair alongside judges Pixie Lott and Danny Jones.
Read the full interview:
Will.I.Am: That broke my heart because I thought about my grandma who was born in 1920 - and her connection with her mum who raised her, who was born in the late 1800s. And my grandmother's grandma who was a slave.
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. So, I understand the need to have free thought, but if your thoughts aren't researched that is just going to hurt those that are still in conditions where it's not choice that when they go down the street there's a liquor store and fast food restaurants and your education is not being funded the same way as it is in Calabasas. When government's stifle the amount of money that goes to Chicago, Watts, Bronx, Fifth Ward Mississipi, East Los Angeles where I'm from. I know because I've contributed to the ghetto that I come from, where I teach our kids robotics, computer science. If the zoning added up to the point where our kids are getting a proper investment for their education, I wouldn't have to raise money, use my own money for robotics programmes and college preparation programmes. So 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?
Piers: You know Kanye?
Will.I.Am: Yeah, but that's not Kanye.
Piers: What's he up to, what's he doing?
Will.I.Am: I don't know, 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. 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.
Piers: Very powerful words Will and I completely agree with you. Listen, I'm a white middle age white guy, it's not for me to even get involved in this debate really, other than to say I completely agree with what you're saying. I don't know what he's thinking about. He has a massive, massive following around the world. A lot of people are very disappointed by this.
Will.I.Am: Think about all the people in the world who have solutions. Think about all the people in the time that are donating their time to help those folks. I don't want to talk about me, I'm doing it regardless of if I'm on TV. I'm doing it regardless of if people know it or not. I'm not trying to let people know I'm doing it - I'm doing it. Right, I do it because I want to do it and that's what you're supposed to do being raise the way I was raised. And I will not throw my ancestors under the bus to profit. What sacrifices are you making and is there proof your commitment to better the lives of folks that come from where you come from.
Piers: You know, we were going to talk about a lot of stuff with you Will. Every time you come on we talk about lots of things. Actually, what you've just said is so powerful and is so eloquent and is so important that we may not get to these other things but I really think that you've said the right thing. I know you were wary about whether you wanted to say this in public but you've done it and I hope Kanye West listens to you. I really do. I think it's too big a thing for people not to listen to you.
Will.I.Am: You know if he listens or not, we're talking about it and our phones are being hijacked. You unfollow him but you can't help, we're talking about it instead of talking about real problems. There's, you know, cop acquitted, Alton Sterling shot. Did he choose to get shot? There's things that are happening in our communities and it makes me want to cry that we're even talking about this right now.
Piers: I completely agree. Will, thank you for coming in, thank you for saying that. That may be all we've discussed but I tell you that will resonate around the world what you've just said and we greatly appreciate it.