TMZ staffer explains why he stood up to Kanye: ‘Only focused thoughts will be accepted’
Wednesday - 02/05/2018 21:18
TMZ staffer Van Lathan became an internet sensation when he challenged Kanye West. Now he’s explained why he did it.
TMZ staffer Van Lathan became an internet hero yesterday when footage circulated showing him doing what it appears so few have done: challenging Kanye West, face-to-face, on his incendiary public statements.
“The thing that got me out of my seat was when he said, ‘Slavery, 400 years, at a certain point that’s a choice.’ Now, the only reason why you have to combat ideas like that very vehemently is that if Kanye West does know the actual mechanism of slavery and how it worked, it was obviously far from a choice,” he explained.
“I think [West’s] overall point is to get people to divorce themselves from their victimhood.
“Once again, me and Kanye are in agreement on that. Is Kanye West pro-slavery, or is he blaming African-Americans for slavery? I highly doubt it. But I think that context and restraint are very important when you’re trying to make a salient point. He missed out on the opportunity to do that because he was in a stream of consciousness rant.”
The dust has settled in the newsroom ... Harvey and Van recap Kanye's WILD & UNFILTERED TMZ takeover and analyze the rapper's message to the masses pic.twitter.com/GbhQlC88Qh
Lathan was talking to a fellow TMZ staff member who had anchored yesterday’s interview with West — and who said he “didn’t sleep last night,” so concerned was he “that we ended up with a show where the headline was ‘Kanye West believes, essentially, slaves have a choice’. I don’t think he meant it.”
Lathan argued that challenging West’s statements was important, regardless of whether or not he’d meant what he’d said.
“Everything that happened yesterday, to me, is OK. Even the people that are calling him on it now, it’s still OK. It’s OK to get him to understand that only focused thoughts will be accepted from somebody who has a voice that big,” Lathan said.
“When he was ranting about Louis Vuitton and the fashion industry, it had very little effect on our lives. It was something we could get behind: ‘Maybe he has a point.’ With these things, they do affect our lives.”
“Inspiration is a very powerful thing, and Kanye West has inspired a lot of people for years and years. Once that inspiration starts flowing out again, people are going to remember why they loved him,” Lathan said.
“I just hope that they do so responsibly, and that they hold him accountable for the things he says. Next month, a lot of music’s gonna drop, people are gonna tune into it, and everything will be right again.”