Kanye West debuted his Yeezy Season 9 collection during a surprise Paris Fashion Week show on Monday evening (Oct. 3), and the rapper-turned-designer was seen wearing a shirt with “White Lives Matter” emblazoned on the back.
According to Page Six, Ye gave a speech to those in attendance before the models came out wearing the collection. He talked about his ex-wife Kim Kardashian’s terrifying 2016 robbery in Paris, his struggles emerging into the fashion industry, his fallout with Gap and his former manager Scooter Braun.
“I am Ye, and everyone here knows that I am the leader,” he is seen saying in a video circulating Twitter. “You can’t manage me.”
Ye’s decision and reasoning behind wearing the “White Lives Matter” shirt is currently unknown. The racist phrase was widely adopted by neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups in response to the Black Lives Matter movement. Its official website, which has since been taken down, was “dedicated to promotion of the white race and taking positive action as a united voice against issues facing our race,” in its own words, per the Southern Poverty Law Center.
“The fiber and integrity our nation was founded on is being unraveled … [by] homosexuality and [racially] mix[ed] relationships,” the former WLM website used to read. “Illegal immigration, healthcare, housing, welfare, employment, education, social security, our children, our veterans and active military and their rights … are the issues we face as white Americans. The laws and immoral orders the current [Obama] administration are passing are drastically … targeting everything the white way of life holds dear.”
Ye has had varying thoughts on racism in America throughout his career. Most recently, in February, he celebrated Black culture and the transformation of Black History Month into “Black Future Month” with an event.
“America is made to enslave us, what they ever gave us?” he proclaims rap-style in a video. “We’d improve. We didn’t show, it’s documented, now it’s cemented, lack future it’s time to invent it. If Ye said it, you know that he meant it. There’s no more Black History Month, every February reminding us that we just barely can vote.”
To change the narrative, Ye declared February Black Future Month. “If we wanna talk about Black history? Who wrote that history for us? They beat down ideas that will keep you enslaved mentally, they target you, they put you in that box to control your mind and to make you fearful,” he said. “I just don’t have no fear left in me so all I got is love. I’ve been waiting for us to take the power in our own hand. I’ve been waiting for us to control our narrative.”
In 2018, he came under fire for some controversial comments he made during an appearance on TMZ Live. “When you hear about slavery for 400 years…for 400 years? That sounds like a choice,” he said in the interview, which he followed up with “Right now, we’re choosing to be enslaved.”