Over the years, Kanye “Ye” West’s unpredictability and unwillingness to conform has both benefited and harmed countless individuals, companies, and movements. Media outlets have profited off of his diagnosed bipolar disorder, his 2020 presidential campaign’s breakdown and, more recently, we all jumped on the rapper’s latest Yeezy collection, SZN9, and its highly debated ‘White Lives Matter’ hoodie.
Ye’s very own brand is to provoke—to start conversations and spark debate. The problem is that he often does so regardless of the consequences his statements might have on the black community. The same goes for the part he plays in the far-right movement for that matter—having West himself print a slogan widely used as a racist response to the civil rights movement Black Lives Matter (BLM) on a piece of clothing validates right-wing ideologies and propagates anti-black sentiment.
Complex once described the musician as “beyond human,” going as far as to add that he is “the most influential brand in the universe.” Bit dramatic, but you get the idea. Ye’s reach transcends mere physical boundaries.
It would be easy—albeit wrong—to dismiss this latest scandal as yet another Ye stunt aimed at criticising our sometimes performative wokeness. However, just like he’s done a couple of times before, West’s almost unworldly way of thinking and overall energy (which are both thrilling and anxiety-inducing) have gone too far. He’s overstepped the mark.
As journalist Naima Cochrane wrote for Billboard, “After years of extending West grace—because of the tragic loss of his mom in 2007, because of his mental and emotional health, because of his talent, or just because the black community’s instinct is to protect our men publicly—the collective black ‘we’ are largely done trying to decipher his motives and intentions.”
BLM was never anti-white in the first place. Black lives matter because they’re more at risk—more at risk during a police encounter, in custody, and in many more instances. So why is Ye feeling the right to dismiss these very same lives by publically tainting the movement so many have fought for?
Well, as American radio host and television personality Charlamagne tha God put it, “He knows exactly what he’s doing and people fall for it every time. […] The reality is, there aren’t too many people in the world who openly seek white validation like Kanye West.”
But Charlamagne went further than simply stating the obvious—he theorised on why we’ve seen Ye go through these polar opposites so many damn times. “Whenever he’s going through something, whenever he’s beefing with a corporation, with his ex-wife, he becomes so pro-black. But when he’s up and things are fine, it’s ‘slavery was a choice’, ‘black people focus on race too much’ and when he’s in these circles like the one he was in at that Paris fashion show, it’s ‘White Lives Matter’,” the radio host was heard explaining in a clip shared on TikTok.
“Kanye West loves white validation—he longs for it,” Charlamagne concluded.
Less than one day after making headlines for donning a hoodie that read ‘White Lives Matter’ at his latest Yeezy fashion show held during Paris Fashion Week, Kanye “Ye” West has now shared an Instagram Story claiming that the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement was “a scam.”
The rapper hosted a presentation in Paris on Monday 3 October 2022 to debut his SZN9 collection. It came hours after Ye, 45, hinted that some famous faces would be making an appearance at the show after sharing an Instagram post with childhood photos of the likes of Beyoncé, Rihanna, Naomi Campbell and even his ex-wife Kim Kardashian with the teasing caption ‘SZN9’.
During the show, West appeared in the dimly lit room wearing a black jumper with ‘White Lives Matter’ printed on the back in white font teamed with a baseball cap, while models also wore jumpers bearing the controversial slogan.
The slogan is obviously a spin on the Black Lives Matter movement which aims to shed light on racism and discrimination while amplifying the voices of the black community.
Ye’s recent Story read, “Everyone knows that Black Lives Matter was a scam. Now it’s over, you’re welcome.” While the fashion designer is yet to explain exactly what he meant, it’s not hard to guess what he’s referring to here.
Back in April 2021, a New York Post article revealed that American activist and co-founder of the BLM movement Patrisse Cullors had purchased four homes for nearly $3 million. The transaction had not been previously reported, and Black Lives Matter’s leadership had hoped to keep the house’s existence a secret.
Documents, emails, and other communications about the luxury properties’ purchase and day-to-day operation suggested that it has been handled in ways that blur, or cross, boundaries between the charity and private companies owned by some of its leaders. It created the impression that money donated to the cause of racial justice had been spent in ways that benefit the BLM leaders personally.
While it’s a strong possibility that Ye is referring to this past scandal, his notorious history of insensitive choices can’t be ignored. In 2018, he was slammed for endorsing former President Donald Trump by wearing a red ‘Make America Great Again’ cap while meeting the problematic commander-in-chief at the White House.
That same year, West received immense backlash after stating that African American slavery was “a choice” during a rant at TMZ’s offices in California.
It’s only a question of time before the ‘Gold Digger’ rapper comes out with yet another appalling opinion.