Kanye West sparked outrage after wearing a shirt with the phrase “White Lives Matter” during his YZY SZN 9 fashion show at Paris Fashion Week on Monday.
The phrase is categorized as a hate slogan by the Anti-Defamation League. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, White Lives Matter is a neo-Nazi group created as “a racist response to the civil rights movement Black Lives Matter.”
Wanda Cooper-Jones, the mother of the late Ahmaud Arbery, called on the rapper and fashion designer for helping to “legitimize extremist behavior” with the viral incident.
Arbery was murdered in February 2020 in a hate crime while jogging through the Satilla Shores neighborhood in Georgia after three white men chased and shot him.
In a statement to Rolling Stone, Cooper-Jones expressed her “extreme disappointment” at West’s behaviouradding that the stunt was a mockery of the Black Lives Matter movement.
“As a result of his showing, ‘White Lives Matter’ began to gain popularity in the US, which would support and legitimize extremist behavior, [much] such as the behavior that cost her son’s life,” Cooper-Jones communicated through her attorney Lee Merritt. “That’s what Wanda and families like hers are still fighting against.”
The statement continued: “These are mocking the Black Lives Matter movement and are now denouncing the movement as some sort of hoax flies straight in the face [of what he’s said]. It’s confusing for her, it’s confusing for the families to receive his support privately, but publicly to set us all back.”
Amid the spate of backlash over the controversial shirt, West, who legally changed his name to Ye last year, posted and deleted a number of posts to his Instagram on Tuesday morning addressing the criticism — including one that the BLM movement called ‘scam’. ”
“Everyone knows that Black Lives Matter was a scam. Now it’s over. You’re welcome,” he wrote.
He further fueled criticism by posing for a photo next to the conservative commentator candace owens, who also wore the same shirt in white.
Some models on the runway of Ye’s show also wore shirts with the same message, The Guardian reported.
Ye had previously lent his support to Arbery’s family by covering their legal costs in the family’s quest for justice after the unarmed black jogger was chased and murdered by father and son Greg McMichael and Travis McMichael, and their neighbor William “Roddie.” “Bryan.
In June 2020, Ye also donated $2 million to the families of Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd.