Kanye West thinks "racism is a dated concept"

West also compared racism to a "bouncing ball in a room with two cats"

Published March 12, 2015 8:18PM (EDT)

Kanye West                (AP/Lionel Cironneau)
Kanye West (AP/Lionel Cironneau)

Kanye West doesn't believe racism exists anymore. (Or does he?)

During a trip to Paris earlier this month, West sat down with Clique TV for an interview, and the 30-minute video (which can be found at the bottom of the post) was not without a few surprising comments. After revisiting that time he wore a confederate flag on tour in order to reclaim the hateful symbol (remember that?), the interview segued into the topic of modern racism. It was then that we learned that West does not actually believe that racism is a "current" concept.

The (somewhat ambiguous) remark came when West's interviewer began probing for details about his brushes with racism in America. “You were saying the real racism is social," the interviewer said. " Have you lived this social racism?"

That's when West jumps in with a roundabout statement on the concept of racism, providing an elaborate metaphor as a primer:

“I wouldn’t call it racism… [it's] a form of discrimination, or bigotry. Racism is a dated concept. It’s, like, a silly concept that people try to touch on to either... to separate, to alienate, to pinpoint anything. It’s stupid. It's like a bouncing ball in a room with two cats, when you don’t feel like playing with a cat. Let them literally fight over the bouncing ball. And the bouncing ball has nothing, no purpose, anything other than that it bounces. That’s racism. It’s not an actual thing that even means anything. You know -- It’s something that was used to hold people back in the past. But now there’s been so many leaps and breaking of the rules that it’s, like, played out like a style from the 1800s or something. You know -- the real true freedom isn’t in the words. The real true freedom is in the opportunity. And that’s what I’m saying. It’s opportunities and dignity, the dignity of people. Who’s to say… there could be a cab driver who's more dignified than a business man. Who’s to say that because this guy has an apartment at the top of the Louvre or something, [he's] more important than this guy staying down. Because it’s a matter of how you are. How you treat human beings. And how you display that heart to people. How you talk to every person. And for us, the more power that you have... The less you are a king, the more you are a servant, the more power you have. We are servants. We’re providing service with this interview. Maybe people will be … I don’t want to assume what someone will get from this, but it’s when I figured out what my position is is when the doors opened up. It’s literally like unlocking a code. And when I’m knocking at the door saying “I’m a God” or something like that, it’s like “Okay, well, God stay out there.” But if i come in and, mind you, when someone’s like “Hey i want to come up i’d like to sweep up your floor for you,” everyone’s like “Alright cool, come in I need my floor swept.” To position yourself as a servant… because that’s all we are, we’re servants to God. This is a Christian view of mine. You know. That’s… I think that’s the best you can be. The lowest is the best you can be."

West alluded to a similar philosophy earlier this month during a speech at Oxford University, citing a greater concern about class discrimination, perhaps at the expense of a lesser focus on race. As the Huffington Post noted, "The artist and rap mogul said racism may be fading away, but classism is still used to discriminate against people."

You can watch the full clip below. (The conversation about racism begins at 9:15)

By Colin Gorenstein

Colin Gorenstein is Salon's assistant editor of internet and viral content. Follow @colingorenstein or email cgorenstein@salon.com.

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