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What did Kanye do? White Lives Matter controversy explained as rapper comes under fire over Yeezy fashion show

Kanye West has had a history of wearing controversial outfits. (Image via Stephane Cardinale - Corbis/Getty)
Kanye West has had a history of wearing controversial outfits. (Image via Stephane Cardinale - Corbis/Getty)

American rapper Kanye West was spotted wearing a "White Lives Matter" t-shirt during Paris Fashion Week, which sparked controversy online.

On October 3, 2022, the 45-year-old star showcased his Yeezy Season 9 collection during fashion week, but before the models walked the ramp, he gave a speech donning a “White Lives Matter” T-shirt with Pope John Paul II's face on it. The phrase is considered a hate slogan by the Anti-Defamation League.

Kanye West is wearing a "White Lives Matter" shirt at YZYSZN9 https://t.co/QdkHSv3OHk

West's controversial attire was on full display as he gave his speech during the opening of the show. Moreover, a picture of him with Republican commentator Candace Owens also went viral on social media, where the duo can be seen wearing the same t-shirt to the fashion show.


What is White Lives Matter?: Twitter reacts to Kanye West's t-shirt

Kanye wearing matching White Lives Matter shirts with Candace OwensThis picture is insane ☠️ https://t.co/hJG0xtFmXA

Originating in 2015, the phrase "White Lives Matter" is described as a "white supremacist phrase" by the Anti-Defamation League, which came into the limelight after the Black Lives Matter movement began.

According to the organization's website, the phrase has been propagated by representatives of the Aryan Renaissance Society and other white nationalists. By 2016, the Ku Klux Klan was doing this as well.

After Kanye "Ye" West wore a "White Lives Matter" t-shirt, fans did not just slam him but also his supporters online for propagating the phrase being a black man himself. Check out some of their reactions:

Kanye west making Black models wear “ white lives matter” shirts is a culmination of his anti blackness and his immersion in white supremacy ideologies and methods. Disgusting https://t.co/yIaVKPYEBB
Kanye West was on instagram not too long ago talking about the Kardashians we’re corrupting his BLACK children… just to be wearing a White Lives Matter shirt https://t.co/mesEFeDteG
NO KANYE DONT WEAR THE WHITE LIVES MATTER SHIRT AS A “FASHION STATEMENT” KANYE https://t.co/q2NqrTz5yk
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.
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… https://t.co/YT4a6c9tKI
You lot are shocked at Kanye wearing a “White Lives Matter” shirt like the man didn’t support Trump…
mind you kanye was just calling kim and kris the kkk 2 weeks ago and now he’s wearing a white lives matter shirt
Hey Kanye and Candace. There has never been a second of doubt in this country that “white lives matter.” The problem is that historically white lives have mattered more than the lives of anyone else. I hope selling your soul is worth it.
White lives matter….. Kanye such a weirdo because with his massive platform people gonna buy into this mess twitter.com/streetfashion0…
Strange Kanye West would wear a “White Lives Matter” shirt at a show essentially begging for white industry approval in the fashion industry
Kanye West wears a "White Lives Matter"... he keeps showing who he is and people/outlets/award shows still support him because they say he's a "genius."It's not a contradictory fashion statement. It's not mental illness. It's not the Kardashians... it's all him. https://t.co/49s5nvASTz
How tf was Kanye calling the Kardashians the KKK when he’s out here with the black klanswoman herself Candace Owens & wearing White Lives Matter shirts?

Prior to the fashion show, Kanye West gave a sneak peek at his Instagram stories of some famous models who would appear at the show. These included Irina Shayk, ex-wife Kim Kardashian, Candice Swanepoel, Bella Hadid, Emily Ratajkowski, Lauryn Hill, Rihanna, Amelia Gray Hamlin, Gisele Bündchen, Naomi Campbell, Angelina Jolie, and Beyoncé.


Kanye West's outfit was on full display during his opening speech

During his Yeezy Season 9 fashion display, West donned his controversial t-shirt and gave an opening speech before the models walked on the ramp.

“I am Ye, and everyone here knows that I am the leader. You can’t manage me.”

During the speech, West touched on topics like his ex-wife Kim Kardashian's Paris robbery in 2016, former manager Scooter Braun asking him to continue his 2016 Saint Pablo Tour in order to "make more money," the challenges he faced while entering the fashion industry, and the recent termination of the partnership between him and Gap.

He also addressed how the cancelation of his 2016 tour will be a moment that will be brought up "for the rest of my life." He said:

"It's the ultimate stigma. People feel like they have the right to come to my face and call me crazy. Like it doesn't hurt my feelings. Or like, you don't have to be crazy in order to change the world."

Ahead of the show, Kanye West spoke to Vogue about his vision for the show and said:

“There’s just people. From the same planet. And sometimes, in high school, it feels like we don’t fit in. And in a situation like this, we have the opportunity to come together to express who we are. It’s leaning into the shape of how I see this future world … this alternate world. But in high school. It’s focused on curriculum because both my parents are educators.”
Kanye West Reportedly Only Wore The MAGA Hat To Get His Foot In The Door And Work On Prison Reform 👀🤳🏾 https://t.co/0w2eiQEEun

This is not the first time that Kanye West has come under fire for his outfits and political inclinations. During a 2018 performance on Saturday Night Live the Famous rapper was seen wearing a "MAGA" hat. He was previously seen visiting the White House wearing the same hat.

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Edited by Priya Majumdar
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