Kanye West's 'White Lives Matter' Shirt Slammed by Social Justice Advocates

Kanye West is infamous for being a contrarian, and the rapper again sparked outrage on Monday for wearing a shirt emblazoned with the slogan "White Lives Matter."

The music mogul and fashion designer, who has legally changed his name to Ye, donned the black shirt at his Yeezy fashion show in Paris. The phrase appeared on the back of the shirt in all caps and white font. Images of Pope John Paul II adorned the front.

Ye's subversion of Black Lives Matter's messaging has angered many who've advocated for social justice. For years, Black Lives Matter supporters have protested against systemic racism and police brutality, but white supremacists have distorted the group's famed slogan to espouse their own racist ideology.

Now, critics are arguing that West's shirt may work to advance the "White Lives Matter" cause.

Kanye West, White Lives Matter
Kanye West appears during Paris Fashion Week on October 2. The rapper sparked outrage when he wore a "White Lives Matter" shirt to his Yeezy fashion show. Edward Berthelot/GC Images

Gospel artist and songwriter Ted Winn, who's also advocated for social justice causes, issued a scathing indictment of West in a Monday tweet.

"Anybody who knows me knows I have NOTHING for @kanyewest - and he keeps giving more reasons," Winn wrote, in part. "It's not just anti-Black, it's buffoonery."

Exavier Pope, an attorney and media personality, called out the move as attention-seeking behavior.

"Strange Kanye West would wear a 'White Lives Matter' shirt at a show essentially begging for white industry approval in the fashion industry," Pope tweeted on Monday.

Later, he retweeted a photo of West standing next to controversial conservative political commentator Candace Owens, who is also Black. Each sported "White Lives Matter" garb, and Pope accused them of trying to "'achieve' their way out of Blackness."

Democratic political strategist Symone D. Sanders-Townsend also remarked on the photo of the two provocateurs.

"Not that girl that hasn't done and has yet to do her research with that man that told us he does not read in 'White Lives Matter' shirts!? Mmm ok," she wrote in a tweet.

One Twitter user noted that Black models had to strut in the shirts at the fashion show, too.

"Kanye west making Black models wear 'white lives matter' shirts is a culmination of his anti blackness and his immersion in white supremacy ideologies and methods. Disgusting," wrote @Blu_Alexia_.

And another compared the origin of Black Lives Matter with that of the so-called White Lives Matter movement.

"Black Lives Matter born out of enduring 350 years of slavery and systemic racism," actress and writer Natasha Chandel tweeted. "White Lives Matter born out of 3.5 years of not being the center of attention."

West previously raised eyebrows for stepping out in a red "Make America great again" cap in support of former President Donald Trump, with whom he shared a friendship. Although the rapper later seemed to sour on Trump, he told Forbes in 2020 that he wore the hat "as a protest to the segregation of votes in the Black community.

"Also, other than the fact that I like Trump hotels and the saxophones in the lobby," West continued.

Newsweek has reached out to Black Lives Matter, the Vatican, Owens and a representative for West for comment.