Kanye West responds to backlash over ‘White Lives Matter’ Yeezy T-shirts

‘White Lives Matter’ has been criticised as a ‘white supremacist phrase’

Saman Javed
Tuesday 04 October 2022 14:03 BST
Kanye West walks with Balenciaga's models in mud pit for Paris Fashion Week show

Kanye West has responded to the backlash in response to him sending models down the catwalk wearing “White Lives Matter” shirts during his Yeezy SZN 9 presentation in Paris.

Photographs also showed the Donda rapper donning the same T-shirt while posing next to controversial conservative figure Candace Owens.

As noted by anti-hate organisation Anti-Defamation League, the phrase “White Lives Matter” is viewed as “white supremacist phrase that originated in early 2015 as a racist response to the Black Lives Matter movement”.

The phrase has previously been touted by supporters of former US president Donald Trump.

The T-shirts sparked a flurry of criticism from celebrities and activists alike, including supermodel Linda Evangelista, actor and rapper Jaden Smith, and fashion editor Gabriella Karefa-Johnson.

West addressed the backlash in a post shared to his Instagram story, writing: “Everyone knows that Black Lives Matter was a scam. Now it’s over. You’re welcome.”

West did not elaborate on his claims or offer further explanation.

The Black Lives Matter movement gained international coverage in 2020 following the murder of George Floyd in Minnesota, US. At the time, thousands of people staged protests across the UK and US demanding justice for the father of five.

In April 2021, a court found police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter of Floyd.

The ‘White Lives Matter’ T-shirt (Gabriella Karefa-Johnson/Instagram)

In his post, West also singled out Karefa-Johnson, the creative director of Garage magazine, who attended the show in Paris and wrote on Instagram that she was “fuming”. She said the inclusion of the T-shirts was “indefensible behaviour”.

“The T-shirts this man concieved, produced, and shared with the world are pure violence,” she continued.

Kanye West posts to his Instagram story (Kanye West)

“There is no excuse, there is no art here. I do think if you asked Kanye, he’d say there was art, and revolution, and all of the things in that T-shirt. There isn’t.

“As we all work through the trauma of this moment, especially those of us who suffered in that room, let’s have some grace for one another.”

West shared two photographs of the editor with his 17.9 million followers on Instagram. He appeared to mock Karefa-Johnson’s appearance in the captions.

Under one photograph, West wrote: “This is not a fashion person You speak on Ye Ima speak on you Ask Trevor Noah [sic].”

He also posted a second photograph zoomed into Karefa-Johnson’s feet, and claimed that Vogue editor-in-chief Anna wintour “hates these boots”.

The Independent has contact West and Karefa-Johnson for comment.

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