The controversy continues: Kanye West’s ‘White Lives Matter’ shirts handed out on Skid Row

By Nell Richmond-Tanner

In a video posted by a friend of West, viewers can see the shirts that made headlines at Paris Fashion Week being handed out to people living in one of the poorest neighbourhoods in Los Angeles.

The rapper and designer, now known as Ye, made waves throughout the fashion world when wore a t-shirt emblazoned with the phrase ‘White Lives Matter’ at his Paris Fashion Week show in early October. Models were also sent stomping down the runway in t-shirts of the same design.

The inflammatory slogan, which has been defined by the Anti-Defamation League as hate speech, caused immediate anger. Audible gasps can be heard in videos of the event and unsurprisingly some attendees walked out of the show.

It is still unclear what exactly Ye was trying to say, but it is undeniable that the slogan itself will be damaging. The slogan is used by far-right, white supremacist groups and to have it utilised by a black man so publicly will only add legitimacy to their views.

Candace Owens, right wing Trump supporter was also present at the show wearing the shirt. This might suggest that this wasn’t just a satirical stunt gone wrong.

But this is not where the controversy ends.

It has since been reported that these t-shirts are now being given to the homeless who live on Skid Row. Resident Stepanie Arnold-Willis told CBS that “they dropped off a big box here and told everybody to come here to pick them up. I was like this is not a good spot. I don’t think you should bring them here.”

This is rightfully causing huge concern, Arnold-Willis continued, “he should have never done this… The majority of people that have been getting killed are Black people. So, that’s what we’re talking about. So, don’t change the subject. It’s still Black Lives Matter here.”

Not only is the stunt remarkably tone-deaf, but it might also cause harm to those who decide to wear the clothing given to them. Fearing for the safety of those who took the free shirt, activist Shirley Raines, who offers free haircuts and beauty treatments to homeless people on Skid Row, swiftly took to the streets to take the shirts back.

It was reported earlier today that Balenciaga has severed their working relationship with Ye and that his partnership with sports brand Adidas is also under review.

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