Hip hop singer Kanye West
performs after the fall 2005 H and M fashion show in New York City, April
20, 2005. West surprised viewers of an NBC benefit concert for Hurricane
Katrina victims on Friday by accusing President George W. Bush of racism.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Rapper Kanye West surprised viewers of an NBC
benefit concert for Hurricane Katrina victims on Friday by accusing President
George W. Bush of racism.
" George Bush doesn't care about black people," West said
from New York during the show aired live on the East Coast on NBC, MSNBC, CNBC
and Pax, just before cameras cut away to comedian Chris Tucker.
West, who is black, suggested moments earlier that delays in providing
relief to survivors of the hurricane that hit the U.S. Gulf Coast on Monday
and flooded New Orleans were deliberate. He said America was set up "to
help the poor, the black people, the less well-off as slow as possible."
The Grammy award-winning singer, who was paired with comedian Mike
Myers, also said in what NBC described as unscripted remarks, "We already
realized a lot of the people that could help are at war right now, fighting
another way, and they've given them permission to go down and shoot us."
He was apparently referring to shoot-on-sight orders issued to National
Guard troops to halt violence and looting in New Orleans.
West also criticized the media's portrayal of blacks, saying: "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."
In a statement, NBC, a unit of General Electric Co.,said, "Kanye West
departed from the scripted comments that were prepared for him, and his opinions
in no way represent the views of the networks.
"It would be most unfortunate," the statement continued, "if
the efforts of the artists who participated tonight and the generosity of millions
of Americans who are helping those in need are overshadowed by one person's
The program, hosted by Matt Lauer of NBC News, urged viewers to donate to the
American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. It included 18 presenters, and featured
performances by New Orleans natives Harry Connick Jr. and Wynton Marsalis, as
well as Louisiana native Tim McGraw and Faith Hill of Mississippi, which was
also struck by Katrina.