Kanye West has addressed the backlash to the “White Lives Matter” shirt he wore during his Yeezy Season 9 fashion show in Paris, France.
The Chicago rap icon sparked outrage on Monday (October 3) when he sported a long-sleeve tee adorned with the controversial slogan while unveiling his latest Yeezy collection during Paris Fashion Week.
Adding more fuel to the fire, Kanye posed for a photo next to Candace Owens — the rightwing political pundit he’s aligned himself with in recent years — in matching “White Lives Matter” shirts, which featured an image of Pope John Paul II on the front.
— Candace Owens (@RealCandaceO) October 3, 2022
Various models, including Lauryn Hill’s 18-year-old daughter Selah Marley, also wore the shirt on the runway during the exclusive event.
Considered a “hate slogan” by the Anti-Defamation League, “White Lives Matter” has been used by white supremacists in response to the Black Lives Matter movement, which built steam following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police in 2020.
Yet none of that seemed to bother Kanye, who issued an unapologetic response to the controversy on his Instagram Stories early Tuesday (October 4).
“Everyone knows that Black Lives Matter was a scam,” he wrote, referencing the multi-million dollar financial scandals that have plagued the organization. “Now its over[.] You’re welcome.”
Kanye faced sharp criticism from various artists and celebrities over his “White Lives Matter” shirt, including Jaden Smith, Boosie Badazz and Marc Lamont Hill.
“I Had To Dip Lol,” tweeted Smith after leaving the Yeezy Season 9 show in protest. “True Leaders Lead. I Don’t Care Who’s It Is If I Don’t Feel The Message I’m Out. Black Lives Matter. We Demand A More Progressive Future.”
“@kanyewest AFTER ALL WE BEEN THROUGH AS A RACE YOU PUT THIS DISRESPECTFUL SHIT ON!!” Boosie fumed on Twitter. “U GIVES NO FUCKS ABOUT HOW BLACKS HAVE DIED N SUFFERED TO THE HANDS OF THE WHITE MAN N U SAY BUSH DON’T LIKE BLACK PEOPLE…REALLY N-GGA.”
Hill wrote: “Kanye West decision to wear a ‘White Lives Matter’ shirt is disgusting, dangerous, and irresponsible. Some of y’all will rush to defend him. You should ask yourselves why.”
Hollywood Unlocked founder-CEO Jason Lee, who was appointed West’s head of media and partnerships in March, announced he no longer works with the billionaire rapper.
“Very humble and thankful to Ye for the opportunity to work with him but that part of our relationship has come to an end,” he wrote next to the aforementioned photo of Kanye and Candace Owens on his Instagram Stories. “And I don’t support this.”
Kanye West has come under fire numerous times for his comments about race in recent years. During an eventful appearance on TMZ Live in 2018, the rap mogul suggested that slavery was a “choice,” weeks after posting a photo of himself wearing a Make America Great Again hat in support of President Donald Trump.
“When you hear about slavery for 400 years… for 400 years? That sound like a choice,” he said. “Like, you was there for 400 years and it’s all of y’all? We’re mentally imprisoned.”
His comments provoked an angry response from Black TMZ employee, Van Lathan, who lectured Kanye over his ignorance and insensitivity.
“You’re entitled to believe whatever you want, but there is fact and real-world, real-life consequence behind everything that you just said,” he said as Ye stood stroking his chin.
“We have to deal with the marginalisation that has come from the 400 years of slavery that you said for our people was a choice. Frankly, I’m disappointed, I’m appalled, and brother, I am unbelievably hurt by the fact that you have morphed into something to me that’s not real.”