When rapper Kanye West wore a ‘White Lives Matter’ shirt during his recent Yeezy show at Paris Fashion Week, many criticised him for what they saw as an incomprehensible symbol of the musician turning his back on his race.
The phrase is a disparaging take on the Black Lives Matter slogan and movement, which has been championed by many American ultra-conservatives who deny that Black people face many issues in society stemming from endemic racism. Now, West has drawn criticism from one of the most eminent names in rap, Diddy.
The Bad Boy Records founder took to his Instagram to deliver a response to West’s clothing at the show. The pair worked together on Ty Dolla $ign’s 2015 track ‘Guard Down’, so at first, Diddy noted West’s position as a “freethinker”, maintaining that he “will always support [his] brother”. However, of West’s most recent stunt, he said: “I don’t rock with it. I’m not with it.”
He continued: “What the press and what fashion is doing, thinking this is a joke, when right now, all America has planned for us is poverty, incarceration and death. So, before I can get to any other lives matter, which, all lives matter, you know what I’m saying? That Black Lives Matter, don’t play with it.”
He concluded: “Don’t wear the shirt, don’t buy the shirt, don’t play with the shirt. It’s not a joke.”
Prior to that, when speaking on The Breakfast Club podcast earlier this week, Diddy labelled West a “super free thinker” whose intentions often get “misconstrued” but again decried the T-shirt as “very tone-deaf”.
“[‘Black Lives Matter’] was our slogan,” he continued. “That wasn’t our slogan to go share with nobody else… You have to be unapologetically Black and love your people and love your tribe first.”
Despite West drawing criticism from a whole host of prominent figures such as Diddy and Jaden Smith, the rapper has been steadfast in his position. The rapper’s Instagram story on October 6th made his thoughts clear. “Here’s my latest response when people ask me why I made a tee that says white lives matter,” he wrote, “THEY DO.”