In a new interview with Fox News, rapper Kanye West has responded to the backlash surrounding his choice of attire during Paris Fashion Week. West was seen wearing a shirt emblazoned with the “White Lives Matter” slogan during the prestigious catwalk strutting event.
The #BlackLivesMatter movement began back in the summer of 2013 following the acquittal of suspect George Zimmerman following the lethal shooting of Trayvon Martin 17 months prior in Florida.
Over the past decade, the movement has grown from strength to strength as a generalised outcry for civil rights in justice departments internationally. The antagonistic slogan of “White Lives Matter” concurrently became associated with white supremacist groups across the western world.
West’s latest controversial political stunt occurred on Monday during a launch event for his fashion brand Yeezy. The rapper, a gathering of models and the conservative commentator Candace Owens were seen to be wearing the “White Lives Matter” slogan on their tops during the event.
After brandishing such a divisive slogan, West has faced significant backlash. Jaden Smith, Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs, and executives for Supreme and Vogue are among those expressing their disapproval of the stunt.
The ‘Stronger’ rapper responded by writing in a post on Instagram that labelled the Black Lives Matter movement as a “scam”.
West has now bolstered his defence in an interview with Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson, who himself has a long history of allegations related to racism and the promotion of white nationalism.
Asked simply why he wore the shirt, West offered: “I do certain things from a feeling. I just channel the energy. It just feels right. It’s using a gut instinct, connection with God and just brilliance – like [disgraced Olympic figure skater] Tonya Harding, how she did the triple flip or the triple spin; she was in so much practice that when it was time for her to skate in a competitive format, it just happened…
“That’s what’s happening – it’s God preparing us for the real battles. And we are in a battle with the media, like, the majority of the media has a God-less agenda, and the jokes are not working – this whole, like, ‘Oh, Ye is crazy’ and all these things, they don’t work. Because the media has also watched travesties happen – just even specifically to me – and act like it wasn’t happening. And they stay quiet about it.”
West continued, explaining that he wore the “White Lives Matter” shirt because he “thought the idea of me wearing it was funny”, noting that his father, an “an educated ex-Black Panther”, texted West with a message that showed he also found the humorous side of the stunt. “And I said, ‘Dad, why did you think it was funny?’ He said, ‘Just a Black man stating the obvious.’”
“That was my favourite response,” he added. “Because I kept on thinking… You know, people are looking for an explanation, and people say, ‘Well as an artist, you don’t have to give an explanation, but as a leader, you do.’ So the answer to why I wrote ‘White Lives Matter’ on a shirt is because they do. That’s the obvious thing.”
Asked why his stunt might be considered damaging, West hesitated before answering: “Because the same people that have stripped us of our identity, and labelled us as a colour, have told us what it means to be Black and the vernacular that we’re supposed to have.”
Watch Kanye West’s full interview with Fox News below.