Rapper and fashion designer Kanye West drew criticism on Monday after he wore a shirt emblazoned with the divisive phrase “White Lives Matter” on its back to a surprise showcase of his new Yeezy line at Paris Fashion Week.
The phrase itself is categorized by the Anti-Defamation League as a hate slogan. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, White Lives Matter is a neo-Nazi group that grew into a movement as “a racist response to the civil rights movement Black Lives Matter.”
The front of West’s shirt featured a photograph of the late John Paul II. Some of the models on the catwalk of his show also wore shirts with the same message, The Guardian reported .
West, who legally changed his name to Ye last year, walked the runway for Balenciaga earlier this week. He told the audience before the showcase of his own collection: “I am Ye and everyone here knows that I am the leader.”
On Tuesday morning, he shared this post calling Black Lives Matter “a scam” on Instagram:
Critics accused West, who has previously declared his love for former President Donald Trump and suggested slavery “sounds like a choice,” of sending “a dangerously dumb message” with the garment:
Musician and actor Jaden Smith, Will Smith’s son, appeared to respond to West’s attire with these critical tweets: