By: Bridie Beamish
Famous rapper Ye West, formerly and more commonly known as Kanye West, faces retaliation from companies and the general public after making anti-semitic comments on his social media. This is not the first time that the star has come under fire for making offensive statements, but it is the first time that organizations have taken such affirmative action by cutting ties with the musician.
In 2018, West made anti-Black remarks, declaring that slavery was a “choice” and that racism is a “dated concept.” Recently, West created shirts for his fashion line with the statement “White Lives Matter” on them, a saying typically associated with White supremacists mocking the Black Lives Matter movement and organization. West also falsely asserted that a fentanyl overdose caused George Floyd’s death and not the brutality of the police. As a result, Floyd’s family has sought to file a defamation and harassment lawsuit against West for 250 million dollars.
Though the public has previously condemned West for his racist remarks, his anti-semitic comments, including the statement on his Twitter account that he would go “death con 3 on Jewish people,” ignited the most action from people and organizations. Defcon 3 is a military term used to describe the deployment and mobilization of armed forces within a short period of time. Twitter has since removed West’s account, and Instagram also suspended the rapper’s account for 30 days following his claim that Jewish people were controlling fellow rapper Sean Combs, more widely known as Diddy. Many of West’s posts and interviews reference the hateful theory that Jewish people are conspiring to control the world’s media, government, and banks.
Brands including Adidas and Gap, which formerly partnered with West, announced their separation from the rapper’s brand Yeezy. Other companies, such as Skechers, additionally criticized the star, and West’s talent agency, Creative Artists Agency, also severed ties with him. However, Adidas landed itself in hot water as the company placed its partnership with West “under review” rather than immediately ending it after the star’s remarks. Finally, after much public outcry, the company officially declared its separation on Oct. 25.
Many are now wondering why these actions did not happen earlier, given the performer’s history of issuing offensive remarks. Philadelphia Magazine journalist Ernest Owens recently proclaimed that despite West’s public history of “misogynoir” and “anti-Blackness,” the public still “gave him contracts, documentaries, endorsements, clothing deals, and millions that became billions.”
The American Jewish Committee proclaimed that West’s comments were “dangerous.” There has been a surge in anti-semitic actions after the musician’s remarks, as people place anti-semitic graffiti in public spaces. In Jacksonville, Florida, statements such as “Kanye is right about the Jews,” “End Jewish Supremacy in America,” and “Honk if you know it’s the Jews” appeared above highways and at Football stadiums. People also noticed anti-semites doing Nazi salutes above a highway plastered in anti-semitic banners. Southern Florida additionally witnessed swastikas and the phrase “I hate Jews” painted on a public playground.
(Sources: ADL, CNN, NBC, NPR, NY Times)