The Black Lives Matter movement would like a word with Kanye West.
On Monday, the rapper showed up at a Paris Fashion Week show in a “White Lives Matter” T-shirt … emblazoned with the Pope’s face on the front.
The artist was joined for the event by controversial conservative pundit Candace Owens, who donned a shirt with the same message and uploaded photos of the pair on Instagram.
“I am Ye, and everyone here knows that I am the leader,” West said at one point on the scene. “You can’t manage me.”
And after he got called out for the message?
Kanye responded as follows:
EVERYONE KNOWS THAT BLACK LIVES MATTER WAS A SCAM NOW ITS OVER YOU’RE WELCOME.
Just when you think you can no longer be surprised by anything Kanye says or does, you know?
Hours after pictures of West in this shirt went viral, combined with his brief statement above, members of the Black Lives Matter movement released a lengthy letter that aimed to tear Kanye a new one.
“The stunt was a clear affront to Black Lives Matter, which has been measured as the largest racial justice movement in history,” opened this letter.
“Black models walked the runway wearing the same slogan. ‘All Lives Matter’ and ‘White Lives Matter’ have long served as violent retorts to the Black Lives Matter movement, used by white supremacists and hate groups, including the Ku Klux Klan.”
Black Lives Matter was birthed in 2013 in response to George Zimmerman’s acquittal for the murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
“In a follow-up statement, Kanye was clear that he intended to kill the Black Lives Matter movement,” this letter went on.
“Black Lives Matter Grassroots sees this as a teachable moment. Political education is core to what we do.
“While some may see Kanye and Candace’s stunt as a distraction, we recognize that it harms thousands of families fighting for justice for their loved ones killed by statesanctioned violence.
“It can spread toxic confusion and be used to legitimize violent assaults on Black people. Battling misinformation while continuing to do the hard that liberation requires is nothing new for us.”
Concluded the statement:
Kanye West and Candace Owens sent a performative dog whistle to millions.
Kanye knows very well that ‘white lives’ have never been targeted for oppression.
Black folks, in contrast, are at the bottom of virtually every economic, social, and political measure because of centuries of individual and institutional racism.
Building a world of Black freedom means upending systems that harm and building new systems of care. Ultimately this benefits everyone.
When Black people get free, everybody gets free.