TMZ reporter Van Lathan recently made headlines standing up to Kanye West, who himself recently made headlines for implying that slavery was a “choice” in a series of posts on Twitter after he appeared at the TMZ Live newsroom. As seen below, the incident appears to be on its way to becoming immortalized as a viral video.
During his appearance, West appeared with Harvey Levin and conservative commentator Candace Owens, as he touched upon the Twitter story that made headlines last week. As seen in the above video, West explained about his tweet implying that slavery was a “choice” in the following exchange:
“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.”
“It was really just my subconscious. It was a feeling I had, you know. Like, people, we’re taught how to think. We’re taught how to feel. We don’t know how to think for ourselves. We don’t know how to feel for ourselves. People say, ‘feel free,’ but they don’t really want us to feel free. I felt a freedom.”
West and the two commenters then talked about how Trump was popular in the hip-hop community before his political aspirations became a reality:
“I just love Trump. That’s my boy. You know, so many rappers—you look at a video of Snoop Dogg lovin’ Trump, but then he get in the office and now they don’t love him. Trump is one of rap’s favorite people.”
However, not everyone in the newsroom was happy with West’s explanation. One TMZ reporter, Van Lathan, particularly became upset when West asked the newsroom:
“Do you feel like I’m thinking free and feeling free?”
Lathan then gave the following, lengthy response:
“I actually don’t think you’re thinking anything. I think what you’re doing right now is actually the absence of thought. And the reason why I feel like that is because, Kanye, you’re entitled to your opinion.”
“You’re entitled to believe whatever you want. But there is fact, and real-world, real-life consequence behind everything that you just said. And while you are making music and being an artist and living the life that you’ve earned by being a genius, the rest of us in society have to deal with these threats to our lives.”
“We have to deal with the marginalization that has come from the 400 years of slavery that you said, for our people, was a choice. Frankly, I’m disappointed, I’m appalled and, brother, I am unbelievably hurt by the fact that you have morphed into something, to me, that’s not real.”
“Stand on all the coffee tables you want to stand on. Say whatever you want to say. But don’t throw a stone and then hide your hand like the rest of us are just going to swallow it. Ye, be ye. I am off it forever. Do you, but remember, the life that I live is as a real person, an actual person.”
At one point during the confrontation, West walked over to Lathan’s desk to apologize, saying that he was sorry he “hurt” him, but Lathan issued the following statement:
“Bro, you’ve got to be responsible. Your voice is too big.”
Who is Van Lathan?
According to Your Tango, Lathan hosts a podcast, The Red Pill, where he talks about his opinion on current events. Sports journalism is a big focus of his show; one notable story had him discuss the abuse women in athletes’ lives often go through. One of his latest episodes, however, was called “Wake Up Mr. West,” where he discussed West’s social media presence with Charlamagne Tha God.
Lathan later made the following statement with Complex about becoming part of a viral moment:
“The misinformation that’s coming out his mouth can actually affect people and people need to have the opportunity to hear both sides of things and if he’s going to sit up there on a pulpit, he was up, raised above the rest of us sitting on the TMZ Live stage talking.
“It wasn’t my job to destroy Kanye West or make a viral moment. It was to make sure what people heard doesn’t resonate with us all. The point was to make sure the opposite method of thinking was represented and we do that every day here.”