Kanye West sparked outrage on Tuesday after dismissing Black Lives Matter, the social movement created to protest social and racial injustices.
The rapper and designer slammed the global cause on Instagram, where he commands more than 17 million followers, after wearing a provocative ‘White Lives Matter’ sweater at his surprise Yeezy fashion show in Paris on Monday evening.
In a post written in white upper-case lettering on a stark black background, West, 43, addressed his followers, writing: ‘Everyone knows Black Lives Matter was a scam. Now it’s over. You’re welcome.’
The outspoken star appeared to be reinforcing a lack of faith in the cause, which has developed a reputation for staging mass street protests regarding the perceived mistreatment of minorities around the world.
Provocation: Kanye West sparked outrage on Tuesday after dismissing Black Lives Matter, the social movement created to protest social and racial injustices aimed at his own community
Founded in 2013 following the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman in the United States, Black Lives Matter gained global attention after playing a key role in the protests that followed George Floyd’s unlawful killing by a white police officer in 2020.
While the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag and slogan serve as reminders that inequality still exists on a global scale, West surprised fans well-versed with his outlandish statements by appearing to make light of it on Monday evening.
Launching an unexpected Yeezy show during Paris Fashion Week, he wore a sweater emblazoned with a White Lives Matter statement while watching his parade of models take to the catwalk in garments bearing the same inflammatory message.
He was joined by divisive right-wing commentator Candace Owens, who beamed while wearing a complementary version of West’s sweater.
The Anti-Defamation League has previously called the phrase ‘White Lives Matter’ a hate slogan.
The slogan worn on West and Owens’ shirts has previously been used by the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist organizations as an attack against the Black Lives Matter movement and Black people more broadly.
A look into Black Lives Matter’s recent controversies
Throughout 2020, the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation raised $90 million from its supporters. In a recent tax filing, more than half of that funding was given to other organizations or spent on consultants and real estate.
The foundation is currently left with $42 million in assets.
Recent backlash over the movement’s use of funding for real estate has led many to question how it plans to move forward and whether funding is actually given to other social justice organizations.
Co-founder resigns after $3 million housing portfolio was revealed
Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors stepped down in 2021 as executive director of the organization amid controversy over her $3 million property portfolio.
Cullors faced fierce backlash over revelations about her personal spending – including the recent purchase of a $1.4 million home in a ritzy L.A. neighborhood.
It caused many to question what percentage of BLM donations were actually going toward social justice programs.
‘As a registered 501c3 non-profit organization, (the foundation) cannot and did not commit any organizational resources toward the purchase of personal property by any employee or volunteer,’ the foundation said in a statement.
Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors stepped down as executive director of the organization amid controversy over her $3 million property portfolio
The $26,000 spent on a Malibu resort
In addition to Cullors’ portfolio, it was also revealed that a jail reform activist group founded by Cullors spent $26,000 for meetings and ‘appearances’ at a luxury Malibu resort.
Reform LA Jails paid $10,179 for ‘meetings and appearances’ at the Calamigos Guest Ranch and Beach Club, and a further $15,593 at the Malibu Conference Center, which is owned by the resort, between July and September 2019.
A single night in a two-bedroom ‘cozy ranch chic’ suite in July costs $1,200, and guests at the 200-acre resort have access to a private five acre beach on the Malibu coast.
A $6 million California ‘escape house’
New York Magazine reported in 2022 a $6 million California home which was purchased in 2020 with BLM funding.
The filing listed the home as an ‘artist retreat,’ according to a New York Times report, while others document it as a location for BLM members to use when they face death threats.
According to the same tax filing which indicated its total assets, Cullors also repaid the movement for use of the home, which refers to a birthday party her son held there.
Previously: The rapper and designer slammed the global cause on Instagram after wearing a provocative ‘White Lives Matter’ sweater at his surprise Yeezy fashion show in Paris on Monday
The move appeared to be another example of West’s distancing himself from mainstream black politics.
In 2005, West made international news when he appeared on a telethon for the victims of Hurricane Katrina and declared: ‘George Bush doesn’t care about black people.’
Since then, he has aligned himself with right-wing figures such as Owens, as well as former President Donald Trump, and has regularly sported a red Make America Great Again cap in public.
During a May 2018 interview regarding his support of Trump, West said: ‘Racism isn’t the deal-breaker for me. If that was the case, I wouldn’t live in America.’
‘I am Ye, and everyone here knows that I am the leader,’ West said at the event while referencing his new legal name, adding: ‘You can’t manage me.’
Palling around: Also posing with West was the right-wing commentator Candace Owens, who beamed while wearing a complementary version of the ‘White Lives Matter’ shirt
It is not the first time that West has stoked controversy surrounding race, after saying in 2018 that he thought 400 years of slavery ‘was a choice.’
He told TMZ: ‘When you hear about slavery for 400 years … for 400 years? That sounds like a choice. You were there for 400 years and it’s all of y’all. It’s like we’re mentally imprisoned.’
West later apologized for those remarks but also described them as an example of ‘free thought.’
In April 2018, he again drew huge criticism when he tweeted: ‘I love the way Candace Owens thinks.’
In response to West’s White Lives Matter sweater, Van Lathan, the former TMZ producer who confronted the rapper on camera in 2018, wrote this Instagram
In response to West’s White Lives Matter sweater, Lathan wrote on Instagram: ‘We don’t need a reminder of the worth of white lives. America is a shrine to the worth of white people.’
He went on: ‘This message is reactionary to a message affirming the worth of Black lives, which have never been worth anything in America. In its intent, it’s a white supremacist notion.’
Lathan continued: ‘Because it posits that we can’t have a conversation about the worth of Black people without having a conversation about the worth of white people, which is f***ing insane.’
The producer concluded: ‘The notion that it ALWAYS has to be about white people in America is incredibly frustrating, emotional draining, and the whole problem. But here’s Kanye, apparently centering that notion.’
In 2018, West appeared during a performance on Saturday Night Live sporting a Make America Great Again hat
Donald Trump meets with rapper Kanye West in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, October 11, 2018
West attracted controversy in 2013 when he was pictured wearing a jacket with the Confederate flag on the sleeve
In April 2018, West drew huge criticism when he tweeted: ‘I love the way Candace Owens thinks’
Former ESPN presenter Jemele Hill wrote about West’s shirt on Twitter
Will Smith’s son, Jaden, tweeted this in the wake of West’s comments
Temple University Professor Marc Lamont Hill was outspoken in his condemnation of West’s remarks
In the hip-hop community, outspoken rapper Boosie Badazz, who famously bragged about paying prostitutes to perform oral sex on his son, then 12, and nephew, then, 13, called out West
Boosie said: ‘After all we been through as a race you put this disrespectful s**t on? U give no f**ks 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****a.’
While Temple University Professor Marc Lamont Hill tweeted the picture of West together with Owen and 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…’
Former ESPN presenter Jemele Hill said: ‘So many folks are trying to excuse Kanye wearing a white lives matter t-shirt as just a troll move or marketing. Maybe it is.’
She went on: ‘But it’s a dangerously dumb message to send for someone with his massive platform. I been off dude. But y’all go ahead labeling his foolishness as genius.’
Will Smith’s son, Jaden, tweeted: ‘I can’t stand behind what Kanye’s saying. He doesn’t have the full support of the youth.’ He followed that up with a simple: ‘Black Lives Matter.’
According to Page Six, West gave a speech to the crowd while wearing the garment, and referenced his ex-wife Kim Kardashian’s Paris robbery in 2016, where she was held at gunpoint, as well as his fallout with clothing giant Gap.
West’s latest appearance with Owens is particularly surprising, as she called his ex Kim a ‘prostitute’ on her Daily Wire show in September after Kardashian’s ex Ray J claimed she and her mother Kris Jenner had released their sex tape in a calculated manner, ‘like an album.’
Although the producer and fashion star has feuded publicly with Kardashian over her parenting and her ex-boyfriend Pete Davidson, he has expressed an ongoing desire to get back together with her for months.
Among those modeling West’s shirts was Selah Marley, 23, the daughter of former Fugees lead singer Lauryn Hill and the granddaughter of the iconic Bob Marley, a chronicler of black people’s struggle for freedom.
Selah posted video showing her talking and joking with West at the event. In the video, Selah is wearing a White Lives Matter shirt.
She captioned the video: ‘Love u @KanyeWest.’ In total, Selah posted three videos showing her wearing the item.
The model, who is represented by NEXT Models, was previously the face of Beyoncé’s activewear line, Ivy Park SS17. In a 2017, she described West as one of her role models.
Selah said: ‘He’s been through a lot of persecution in the media and by people, but it doesn’t stop him from being who he is.’
Bob Marley’s granddaughter was among those who modeled West’s new design in Paris
Selah posted photos showing her joking with West while sporting the White Lives Matter shirt
Bringing his family into it: Kanye’s daughter North West, nine, was seen at the event. She was part of a group of children who marched in a circle and sang
Controversies: According to Page Six , West gave a speech to the crowd while wearing the garment, and referenced his ex-wife Kim Kardashian’s Paris robbery in 2016, where she was held at gunpoint, as well as his fallout with clothing giant Gap; seen September 26 in London
Shocking juxtaposition: The front of West’s ‘White Lives Matter’ shirt appeared to show a collage of photo of Pope John Paul II
Historic figure: The bottom caption referred to him in Spanish as ‘Juan Pablo.’ It’s not clear if the late pope is supposed to have any connection to West’s album The Life Of Pablo
West was seen being swarmed by fans and photographers at the fashion show
Owens has previously been critical of the NAACP, the Black Lives Matter movement, has referred to Covid-19 as a scam, and has claimed that white supremacy is not a pressing issue in society.
Prior to the show, the rapper shared a photo of headshots of several models, actresses and singers, including his ex-wife, his current romantic interest Candice Swanepoel, Amelia Hamlin, Angelina Jolie, Emily Ratajkowski and others.
However, it’s unclear if they were all expected to make an appearance, or if they just inspired YZY season nine in some way. According to Page Six, only Naomi Campbell and Hamlin walked the runway.
Shayk was present at the show but stayed on the sidelines.
Notably, the photos of the women were taken years or decades ago when they were particularly young. It’s unclear why he sought out those photos rather than more contemporary photos of them.
During his introduction to the show, West also referenced his former manager Scooter Braun.
Braun is perhaps best known to the general public for purchasing Taylor Swift’s master recordings, an act that infuriated her and has led her to rerecord her entire catalogue to prevent the current owners from garnering royalties.
Strange: West’s latest appearance with Owens is particularly surprising, as she called his ex Kim a ‘prostitute’ on her Daily Wire show in September
Rude: She spoke after Kardashian’s ex Ray J claimed Kim and mother Kris Jenner released their sex tape in a calculated manner, ‘like an album.’ Kanye has publicly feuded with Kim over parenting and her ex Pete Davidson while expressing hope that they’ll get back together
Dedication: Fans waiting to see West waited outside for hours in chilly conditions to see him
Strange bedfellows: The slogan worn on West and Owens’ shirts has previously been used by the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist organizations as an attack against the Black Lives Matter movement and Black people more broadly
Taking the spotlight: ‘I am Ye, and everyone here knows that I am the leader,’ West, 43, said at the event while referencing his new legal name, adding: ‘You can’t manage me’
Fighting it: The Anti-Defamation League has called ‘White Lives Matter’ a hate slogan
Odd: West recently shared photos of models, actresses and singers — including ex Kim Kardashian — though it’s not clear if they’ll be attending the show, nor why he sought out such young photos of the women
Naomi Campbell and Michèle Lamy were reportedly among those who walked at the show.
Photos from the show appear to show some of the models wearing ‘White Lives Matter’ shirts.
The front of West’s ‘White Lives Matter’ shirt appeared to show a collage of photo of Pope John Paul II, with the bottom caption referring to him in Spanish as ‘Juan Pablo II.’
The YZY designer is no stranger to offensive clothing. In 2013, he wore a jacket featuring the Confederate flag, and he has previously worn the red Make America Great Again hat favored by former President Donald Trump and his fans.
West previously found himself in the spotlight when he trudged through mud at Balenciaga’s fashion show for Paris Fashion Week in a thick, militarized ensemble.
Shayk, who briefly dated the Monster rapper after his split from Kim Kardashian, shared her congratulations ‘on another epic YZY collection’ with a short Insta Stories video of him speaking in front of a much larger video screen of himself.
He was also seen standing amid an array of earth-toned clothing that looked as if it had been carelessly thrown on the floor in a photo she posted.
Big names: Naomi Campbell and Amelia Hamlin ultimately walked the show, but the rest of the women in his post appeared to be absent
Behind the scenes: Irina Shayk was present but didn’t walk
Low key: Kanye also wore dark jeans with the same jeweled flip flops he was previously seen with, along with a baseball cap reading 2023 on the bill
Joining him: Photos from the show appear to show some of the models wearing ‘White Lives Matter’ shirts
Suited up: West previously found himself in the spotlight when he trudged through mud at Balenciaga’s fashion show for Paris Fashion Week in a thick, militarized ensemble
Exes: Irina Shayk, who briefly dated West after his split from Kim Kardashian, shared congratulations ‘on another epic YZY collection’ with a short Insta Stories video of him speaking
Messy: He was also seen standing amid an array of earth-toned clothing that looked as if it had been carelessly thrown on the floor in a photo she posted
In an interview with Vogue Business prior to his show, West expressed his determination to make YZY an inclusive brand, despite having his hopes dashed with some of his recent clothing collaborations.
The College Dropout rapper recently terminated his collaboration with Gap, and he has now outlined his long-term ambition for his fashion brand.
Kanye — who has legally changed his name to Ye — explained: ‘Our point, our idea, is that there is no one who is not welcome at YZY, at Donda.
Available to all: West said in a new interview with Vogue Business before the show that he wants YZY to be an affordable company; seen on Saturday at the Givenchy show in Paris
‘And that’s why I went to Gap,’ he continued. ‘And why I brought Demna [Gvasalia, Balenciaga’s creative director] with me. To say “OK, Demna’s cut is at the top of what Paris has to offer. And Paris is at the top of what fashion has to offer. So let’s bring Paris to the people.”‘
Asked why the collaboration didn’t work out, Kanye said: ‘They made the T-shirts we had done cost $200. And then, they took our color palette and made a shape that was appropriate to what I think someone in the office thought was at the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. And I felt that was civil rights.’
When asked to clarify his statement, he explained, ‘Well, when we went to shows,’ he began, referencing his 2009 trip to Paris with Virgil Abloh and other future fashion luminaries and friends, ‘there were certain shows we couldn’t get into.
‘That relates to the civil rights movement. It shouldn’t be that you can’t have this fabric or have this cut until you’ve made it to a certain place or class in life. It’s about dignity. And democracy.’
Burned: West complained about his recently ended collaboration with Gap, as the brand sold his T-shirts for $200, when he hoped to make them much more affordable; seen with Psalm, Chicago and Saint in Villepinte, France, on Sunday
The chart-topping star subsequently suggested that he plans to run YZY as a vertically integrated business.
He added: ‘We just bought our fourth factory in California.’
Kanye recently hit out at both Gap and another of his collaborators, Adidas, for failing to fulfill a promise to build ‘permanent stores’ for their ventures.
Sharing his plans for his brand, the rapper wrote on social media: ‘I’ll buy the land and or building. Then we gonna open up in every state and then internationally.
‘Anyone who has over 10 years retail experience and is ready to change the world post your Instagram handle or store location in the comments and we’ll find you.
‘I signed with both Adidas and Gap because it contractually stated they would build permanent stores which neither company has done even though I saved both of those companies at the same time [sic].’
Failure: ‘I signed with both Adidas and Gap because it contractually stated they would build permanent stores which neither company has done even though I saved both of those companies at the same time [sic],’ he complained; seen Sunday in Paris
Kanye has been getting a chance to have some family time while abroad for Paris Fashion Week.
His daughter North, nine, was with him while he chatted with Vogue ahead of his YZY fashion show, which was off the official Paris Fashion Week calendar.
The show will be his fourth in the fashion capital, and just his eleventh overall.
On Saturday, he was seen taking her out to dinner in Paris, along with his other three children: Saint, six; Chicago, four; and Psalm, three.
The children had previously been traveling with their mother Kim Kardashian as she headed to Milan Fashion Week, though now they seem to be spending some time with their father.
Family: His daughter North, nine, was with him while he chatted with Vogue ahead of his YZY fashion show, which was off the official Paris Fashion Week calendar; seen with Kim Kardashian and Chicago in July in NYC
On the move: Kanye’s children were previously traveling to Milan Fashion Week with their mother; North seen in front of the Duomo di Milano
In 2020, West launched his own ill-fated presidential campaign. The Daily Beast later reported that the campaign was largely funded by Republican operatives as a means to split the black vote.
In the run up to the 2012 and 2016 presidential elections, he donated to the campaigns of President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton respectively.
Fashionable arrival: Supermodel Irina Shayk donned a pair of over-the-knee heeled boots and and jean flannel to attend the Kanye West aka Ye Womenswear Spring/Summer show
Show-stopping appearance: Jaden Smith also was in attendance at the star-studded show wearing a futuristic ensemble comprising of a printed puffer jacket and hood