Director Spike Lee has joined the chorus of criticism facing Kanye West after the rapper suggested slavery in America was “a choice”.
The film-maker labelled West “uneducated” and called for him to “wake up” in a lengthy Instagram post alongside a photo of the pair.
West has faced a torrent of criticism including from stars such as Will.i.am following controversial remarks made during an interview with TMZ Live on Tuesday.
Lee wrote: “OUR Ancestors Did Not Choose To Be Stolen From Mother Africa. OUR Ancestors Did Not Choose To Be Ripped Of Our Religion, Language, Culture. OUR Ancestors Did Not Choose To Be Murdered, Lynched, Castrated, Raped, Burnt At The Stake, Families Sold Apart.
“OUR Ancestors Built This Country (On Land Stolen From The Native Americans) From The Ground Up Under The Institution Of SLAVERY. Where Is This Brother In The Picture Next To Me??? I Would Not Be Surprised If OUR Ancestors Are Not Pleased With Your Uneducated Comments.
“P.S. Your Retraction Does Not Undue The Harm You Cause To Our Beloved ANCESTORS. WAKE UP.”
West told TMZ: “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.”
He later defended the remarks on Twitter and said he was being attacked for “presenting new ideas”.
“We need to have open discussions and ideas on unsettled pain.”
He added: “To make myself clear – of course I know that slaves did not get shackled and put on a boat by free will.”
Voice UK star Will.i.am said West’s comments “broke my heart”, because it made him think of his “grandmother’s grandma, who was a slave”.
He 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.”
Many others have reacted to West’s remarks, including his friend, musician John Legend, who 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 he 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.”