Ye, also known as Kanye West, debuted a surprise Yeezy fashion show in Paris today. Celebrities like Beyoncé, Rihanna, Angelina Jolie, Lauryn Hill, Naomi Campbell, Emily Ratajkowski, Gisele Bündchen, and Bella Hadid were present at the event, which included a musical performance in the style of a Sunday Service that featured a children’s choir, including West’s daughter North West.
However, all that anyone can talk about is the controversial black sweatshirt Ye wore, which was decorated with the words “White Lives Matter” on the back and a picture of the pope on the front.
Whether it was a marketing gimmick or just him trolling, there was an immediate conversation online. He has a well-known history of mental illness, but he has also repeatedly shown that he supports deeply conservative ideals and ideologies, as evidenced by the “Make America Great Again” hat he wore and the official endorsement meeting he had with former president Donald Trump.
Twitter reacted to his odd clothing choice right away. Jaden Smith criticized the action in a since-deleted post, saying that he couldn’t support West’s decision and that “he does not have the full support of the youth.” The son of Will and Jada Pinkett Smith has left tweets saying “Black Lives Matter” and “I Don’t Care Who’s It Is If I Don’t Feel The Message I’m Out.”
“Uphill” author Jemele Hill called the sweatshirt “dangerously dumb.” Writer Meecham Meriweather said, “Kanye SHOWS y’all and TELLS y’all he doesn’t care about the black community and yet and still y’all be right there at Sunday Service buying every GI Joe boot and every piece of raggedy fabric he drops.”
Others cited an Instagram chat between former professional basketball player Jack McClinton and media personality and producer Van Lathan, who wrote movingly about the “white supremacist notion” behind West’s sweatshirt slogan.
“We don’t need a reminder of the worth of white lives,” Lathan said. “America is a shrine to the worth of white people. 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, 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 fucking insane. The notion that it ALWAYS has to be about white people in America is incredibly frustrating, emotionally draining, and the whole problem. But here’s Kanye, apparently centering that notion.”
Marc Lamont Hill, a professor at Temple University and a host on BET, described the shirt as “disgusting, dangerous, and irresponsible.” Rap TV also noted that West and Candice Owens, a well-known opponent of the Black Lives Matter movement, were both wearing the same.