(COMPLEX.COM) – Akon caught heat this week after he was asked about the way slavery is viewed in Senegal, the West African country where he spent most of his childhood. The 47-year-old artist claimed Senegalese no longer think about slavery because they have “overcome” its horrors, unlike African Americans.
“In Senegal, we’ve kind of overcome the thought of slavery, we don’t even think about it,” he said during an interview with VladTV. “The only time we think about it, honestly, is when we’re doing tours at Goree Island. Outside of that, people have lived and moved way beyond the slavery concept …”
Akon then said Black Americans would benefit by simply “letting go” of slavery.
“I think it’s the art of just letting the past go and moving towards the future,” he continued. “And I think, in the U.S., they have this stigma of just not letting go of the past and blaming the past on every mishap or, you know, disappointment. I think as long as you hold onto that past, there’s a lot of weight that you carry with you everywhere you go. It’s hard to move forward and move fast when you got a weight on your back. You just gotta let it go.”