Kanye West accepted the Visionary Award at the BET Honors show, which aired on Monday. "I think for the first time in my life I understand how it feels to be humbled," he said before going into a nine-minute speech about racism.
Kanye told a story about an experience wife Kim Kardashian had with her father Robert Kardashian. Someone spray painted "n—er lover" on Robert's car in the wake of his defending O.J. Simpson. Robert used the opportunity to talk to Kim about racism, and Kanye recounted what Robert told Kim: "One day you may have a black child, a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful black child. And it's going to be hard. You're going to see how hard it is.
"So true enough, we deal with racism because there are different races," said Kanye. "Or the micro of it is that we focus on the different races as opposed to the macro, which is the human race. The bit of soundbites that everyone loved from last year that got taken out of context or misunderstood did come from a place of saying, 'Yes, part of the reason why I'm not allowed to be empowered is because of race, because of people's perception of celebrity, because all they want to present to young black men is the idea of making it to the league or making it to be a rapper, but not the idea of becoming an owner.' "
The singer continued, "Harriet Tubman said she could have freed so many more if they only knew they weren't free. So don't think that because we can afford this custom Balmain suit that we're free. And don't think that because we can buy a $300,000 car that we're free. And don't think that [because] 3 percent of a gated community has colored people in it that we're free. It's the mentality. The slave mentality. Where we all eventually become slaves to that car, slaves to the perception, slaves to the idea of being cool."
He concluded the speech by saying, "Our oil — since we don't own any oil — our oil is our expression, our influence. Don't never let them take that away. And when we have the chance to express it, and to influence, don't only do it for us. Do it for the human race."
Kanye's speech was very genuine, although he did take the opportunity to make a joke about his wife's dating history. "At the barber shop and everything, I used to hear people always saying, you know, 'When an entertainer get on, you know he's going to go on and get a white girl,' " he said, "and, 'The white girl gonna go get a rich black dude.' I want to say that my wife has dated broke black dudes, so it ain't got nothing to do with the money." Watch his full speech below:
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