When Kanye West announced his surprise Yeezy Season 9 show, we all knew we’d be getting a viral moment (this is Ye after all). But no one could have predicted the rapper donning something as harmful as a “white lives matter” T-shirt — even with his previous statements around race.
The shirt featured a photo of Pope John Paul III on the front and was worn by models on the catwalk and by Ye, along with Candace Owens, a right-wing commentator, who was a guest at the show.
Before the Yeezy Season 9 show, Ye told the audience: “Everyone here knows that I am the leader. you can’t manage me. This is an unmanageable situation.”
He then went on to reference his ex-wife Kim Kardashian’s robbery in Paris in 2016, his recent falling out with Gap and former manager Scooter Braun. Naomi Campbell modelled in the show although she didn’t wear the controversial T-shirt. The artist’s daughter, North West, led a children’s choir who performed at the event.
The Anti-Defamation League categorises “White Lives Matter”, which reverses the Black Lives Matter phrase used to protest against brutality, as a hate statement.
In response to the backlash, Ye posted an Instagram story where he wrote “Everyone knows that Black Lives Matter was a scam. Now it’s over. You’re welcome.”
This isn’t the first time Ye has made problematic statements about race. Back in 2018, he said 400 years of slavery in the US “sounds like a choice,” although he later attempted to backtrack on the comment.
Ye’s antics last night caused an uproar on social media with celebrities and fans chiming in on the controversial T-shirt. One of those who spoke out was Jaden Smith, who has previously collaborated with Ye. “Black Lives Matter,” he tweeted before adding a now-deleted post that read: “I can’t stand behind what Kanye’s saying, he does not have the full support of the youth.”
One Twitter user responded to the news by writing: “Kanye West making Black models wear “white lives matter” shirts is a culmination of his anti-blackness and his immersion in white supremacy ideologies and methods. Disgusting.”
“So the guy who thought slavery was a choice & the woman who said slave owners deserve reparations more than the slaves, wore matching White Lives Matter sweatshirts,” added another.
While a third wrote: “Kanye West was on Instagram not too long ago talking about the Kardashians were corrupting his BLACK children… just to be wearing a White Lives Matter shirt.”