Controversy by Kanye West


Ava Kahn

Kanye West, now known as Ye, is an American rapper, singer, songwriter, record producer, and fashion designer. He has drawn a lot of criticism due to his political statements in recent years. For example, in 2018 he called slavery, “a choice.” There have been two acts of recent controversy: a white lives matter shirt and antisemitic tweets. Some excuse these acts due to West’s struggle with bipolar disorder; however, some think that is not a valid excuse for spreading hate.

On October 3rd, Kanye West wore a “White Lives Matter” shirt to a Paris Fashion Week show. “White Lives Matter” is a white supremacist phrase that originated in 2015 as a racist response to the Black Lives Matter movement. On the front of the shirt was an image of Pope John Paul II, the former leader of the Catholic church. The shirt was showcased in his Yeezy season 9 show collection. It was worn by Selah Marley, granddaughter of Bob Marley, who modeled the shirt on the runway. West received harsh criticism from other celebrities. Rapper Sean “Diddy” Combs posted a video on Instagram sharing how he did not support the shirt and urged people not to buy it. Then Kanye posted a screenshot of his conversation with Sean on Instagram where Kanye suggested that Sean was being controlled by Jews.

Six days later on October 9th, Kanye West went on a Twitter rant that included antisemitic remarks. Kanye West tweeted, “I’m a bit sleepy tonight but when I wake up I’m going death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE    The funny thing is I actually can’t be Anti Semitic because black people are actually Jew also    You guys have toyed with me and tried to black ball anyone whoever opposes your agenda.” The “death con 3” references the United States defense readiness condition, known as Def Con. This tweet caused Twitter to suspend his account for an unknown amount of time; meaning his account has not been deleted, but he cannot post anything. Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, is following Twitter’s lead in suspending his accounts.

Since this incident, Kanye West has made a deal to purchase the social media platform, Parler. Parler is a sight popular with conservatives, specifically, Trump loyalists. West said in a statement, “In a world where conservative opinions are considered to be controversial, we have to make sure we have the right to freely express ourselves.” Parler has been known for spreading vaccine misinformation, bigotry, and right-wing conspiracy, due to its hands-off approach. After the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol in 2021, Apple and Google removed the app from their app stores for violating their terms of service. Apple said that they found Parler encouraged violence, denigrated various ethnic groups, races, and religions, and glorified Nazism. Since then, Parler has committed to monitoring violence and hate speech. This led to Parler being welcomed back onto app stores, and now being purchased by Kanye West.

Adidas is the most important fashion partner in West’s empire after producing the popular shoes, Yeezys, together. This relationship was under review for two weeks after West’s controversial behavior. On October 26th, Adidas officially cut ties with West, announcing it would cost the company $246 million this year. Adidas said in a statement, “Adidas does not tolerate antisemitism and any other sort of hate speech.” This has raised questions about what will come next for Kanye West with no Adidas partnership, no talent agent, and no record company. Other companies like Balenciaga, and Gap, have also cut ties with West.