On Monday, the rapper, 45, staged a surprise Yeezy fashion show during Paris Fashion Week. Before the live-streamed show began, West took to the stage in the long-sleeve black shirt, which also featured an image of the Pope on the front, to give a speech, according toPage Six.
“I am Ye, and everyone here knows that I am the leader,” he said at one point, according to the outlet, before adding: “You can’t manage me.”
The showcase of West’s season nine collection also saw models walk the runway in white versions of the “White Lives Matter” shirt, while controversial conservative commentator Candace Owens was also in attendance at the show, where she too wore a “White Lives Matter” t-shirt, according to Complex.
On social media, West’s shirt has been met with mixed reactions, with many criticising the fashion designer for the outfit choice. As noted by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), “White Lives Matter” is a “white supremacist phrase that originated in early 2015 as a racist response to the Black Lives Matter movement”. The phrase has also been used by supporters of former president Donald Trump.
“Kanye West, and his White Lives Matter shirt is not very surprising. He wore a MAGA hat, and supported [Trump]. In both instances, my position has been very clear. F**k Kanye,” one person tweeted.
Kanye West wearing a White Lives Matter hoodie‼️😳 pic.twitter.com/9Xr7UCQAdF
— RapTV (@Rap) October 3, 2022
Kanye West and Candace Owens wearing “White Lives Matter” shirts at his fashion show in Paris. pic.twitter.com/eJekZ8cGhe
— Pop Crave (@PopCrave) October 3, 2022
Another said: “I don’t know what is going on with him, but personally I’m sick of folks making excuses for him.”
“I’m so bored with this guy and his antics. It’s just one desperate stunt after the other,” someone else alleged.
Others claimed that the controversial fashion choice shouldn’t come as a shock considering the rapper’s past political leanings, as he has been open about his support for the former president, who he referred to as his “brother” in 2018.
“You lot are shocked at Kanye wearing a ‘White Lives Matter’ shirt like the man didn’t support Trump…” one person tweeted.
I don't know what is going on with him, but personally I'm sick of folks making excuses for him. https://t.co/ulSAp8wF8Y
— Lecia Michelle: Author & Anti-Racism Activist 🐝 (@LeciaMichelle11) October 3, 2022
Jemele Hill also weighed in on the controversy, with the journalist alleging that West’s message was “dangerously dumb” even if he wore the shirt as a marketing tactic.
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. 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.
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) October 3, 2022
“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. 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,” she wrote.