On Friday night, Grammy-award winning hip-hop superstar Kanye West delivered a blistering critique of President Bush and the administration"s response to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. "I hate the way they portray us in the media," West said. "If you see a black family, it says they’re looting. See a white family, it says they’re looking for food." [includes rush transcipt]
Only a few weeks ago, the 28-year-old West was on the cover of Time Magazine and was named to that publication"s list of 100 most influential people in the world. The magazine reported that his eagerly anticipated latest album titled "Late Registration" and released on August 30th,is widely expected to be the biggest selling record of the year.
West was one of several celebrities and singers participating in a live telethon and concert produced by NBC News titled "A Concert for Hurricane Relief." Performers included New Orleans natives Harry Connick Jr., Wynton Marsalis and Aaron Neville. Other speakers included Lindsay Lohan and Leonardo DiCaprio. The live broadcast was run on NBC, MSNBC, and CNBC. West was paired with comedian Mike Myers and was not scheduled to perform, but to read from a script prepared by the network. The segment began with Myers speaking about the devastation Katrina has left in the U.S. south. Then Kanye West departed from his script.
- Kanye West, speaking on NBC Friday night.
KANYE WEST: I hate the way they portray us in the media. If you see a black family, it says they’re looting. See a white family, it says they’re looking for food. And you know that it’s been five days, because most of the people are black. And even for me to complain about it, I would be a hypocrite because I’ve tried to turn away from the TV, because it’s too hard to watch. We already realize a lot of people that could help are at war right now, fighting another way, and they have given them permission to go down and shoot us.
MIKE MYERS: And subtle, but in even many ways more profoundly devastating is the lasting damage to the survivors’ will to rebuild and remain in the area. The destruction of the spirit of the people of southern Louisiana and Mississippi may end up being the more tragic loss of all.
KANYE WEST: George Bush doesn’t care about black people.
AMY GOODMAN:After Kanye made the last comment, the camera cut to actor Chris Tucker. MSNBC’s president, Rick Kaplan, the producer of the telethon had the cameras cut to Tucker after West delivered the unscripted remarks at the concert for hurricane relief Friday on NBC. Tucker was on a different part of the stage and appeared to be looking at something off camera. Viewers could hear West’s voice trailing away as his audio was switched off and Tucker began reading from prepared remarks. The network cut West’s comments about Bush from their west coast feed and distanced itself from the artist. The company issued a statement that read in part, "Kanye West departed from the scripted comments that were prepared for him and his opinions in no way represent the views of the network. It would be most unfortunate if the efforts of the artists who participated and the generosity of millions of Americans who are helping those in need are overshadowed by one person’s opinion," the network wrote. West has become increasingly vocal on political matters of late and recently used the video for his Diamonds from Sierra Leone single to highlight the highlight the suffering caused by conflict diamonds and the Human Rights abuses that occur in mining them.