Kanye West has stirred up a controversy by wearing a T-shirt with the slogan “White Lives Matter” at his Paris Fashion Week show on Monday.
Kanye West, who officially changed his name to “Ye” earlier this year, wore the T-shirt with the phrase “White Lives Matter” emblazoned across the back at the fashion show for his brand YZY, reports The Guardian. The shirt bears a photo of Pope John Paul II on the front.The offending garment was also worn by models on the ramp and Candace Owens, a right-leaning commentator who was a guest at the show.
— Candace Owens (@RealCandaceO) October 3, 2022
According to the Anti-Defamation League, the phrase White Lives Matter emerged as a racist response to Black Lives Matter movement in early 2015. The international NGO classifies it as hate speech, noting that it has been used by white supremacist groups like the Ku Klux Klan.
Backlash against West’s use of the slogan was swift and brutal. Among those who called him out for it was Linda Evangelista, the 57-year-old model who is making a return to the runway.
Evangelista posted a picture of a black square with the words “Black Lives Matter” on Instagram.
“Black. Lives. Matter. Today, fashion made me sad,” she wrote alongside.
View this post on InstagramA post shared by Linda Evangelista (@lindaevangelista)
Reactions were similar on Twitter, where many called the use of the slogan on the runway “disgusting”, racist and offensive.
In the past, West’s problematic statements about race have included him saying that slavery in the US “sounds like a choice”.
According to Page Six, the rapper is confused by the backlash his T-shirts have received.“He thinks it’s a PC thing,” one source was quoted as saying by the publication. “He wants to give a voice to the ‘other side’ [of the race debate in America].” “He doesn’t understand why people aren’t seeing that,” they added.