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Russell Simmons Pens Open Letter to Kanye West

Many fans were taken aback last week when Kanye West apologized to the former president for his infamous “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” comments during his shocking appearance on a Hurricane Katrina telethon in 2005. One person that doesn’t believe Yeezy needs to take back his sentiments is Russell Simmons. The Def Jam Records co-founder posted an open letter to the Louis Vuitton Don on his Web site yesterday (November 12),, sharing his feeling on the matter.

“When you spoke about President Bush during the Katrina telethon, it was not the particulars of your words that mattered, it was the essence of a feeling of the insensitivity towards our communities that many of us have felt for far too long,” the hip-hop mogul wrote. “It was the image of the President, our President, the President of the United States of America, peering out the window of an airplane, as the people on the ground were drowning, that hurt us the most. For centuries, our people have relentlessly tread water as hard as they could to stay afloat, and here we were, literally drowning, and it felt like the President was insensitive.”

As previously reported, during a recent interview with Matt Lauer, Bush said that one of the “most disgusting moments” of his Presidency was being called a racist by Kanye.” Ye quickly responded on Houston radio station 97.9 The Box, apologizing for the unsympathetic remarks. “Well I can definitely understand the way he feels to be accused of being a racist in any way because the same thing happened to me, you know, where I got accused of being racist, and with both situations it was basically a lack of compassion that America saw,” he said. “With him it was a lack of compassion not rushing, you know, taking his time to rush down to New Orleans. With me, it was a lack of compassion in cutting someone off in their moment, but none the less I feel we’re all quick to pull the race card [in America]. And now I’m more open, and the poetic justice that I feel to go through the same thing that he went [through], and now I really more connect with him on a humanitarian level … the next morning when he felt that, I felt the same thing.”

While Simmons might not have agreed with Yeezy’s apology, he expressed his utmost respect for the Chicgao-bred talent’s artistry and commitment to the innovation of the hip-hop genre.” I have early recollections of Damon Dash calling me and forcing me to put you on Def Poetry Jam,” he recalled. “I knew your record, ‘Through The Wire,’ but I didn’t know much more.“When you took the stage on Def Poetry Jam that night, and spit those genuine, heartfelt words, I witnessed your specialness that Damon had emphatically told me about. From that moment on, you became a poet who has inspired the poets. I have proudly watched your career since then, and in case someone has missed the obvious, you are making a historical impact on music.”

Ending his letter, Simmons declared his undying support for West, “Keep on, Kanye. Keep on. We love you. We cherish you. And we will always have your back.” —Elan Mancini

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