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Kanye West - Antisemitism, Candace Owens, Parler, George Floyd, Pete Davidson & Balenciaga

Posted by Onassis Krown on
Kanye West's Recent Drama News

The whirlwind of controversy encircling the Chicago rapper born Kanye West may have created widespread ripples of news across business, fashion, politics and social media, but it has raised nary a peep in his hometown, though a few voices are speaking out against his recent outbursts.

The rapper who legally changed his name to Ye has been at the center of a media firestorm that has alienated him from former business partners amid accusations of antisemitism.

Last weekend, he reignited claims of antisemitism following the release of his interview for the podcast “Drink Champs,” where he questioned the cause of George Floyd’s death and recycled old tropes about Jewish money and influence.

“They hit him with the fentanyl. If you look, the guy’s knee wasn’t even on his neck like that,” West claimed on Sunday’s episode of the Revolt TV show “Drink Champs.” Floyd died in May 2020 after Officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for about nine minutes. Chauvin was sentenced to 22 ½ years behind bars last year on murder and manslaughter charges in Minnesota, and 21 years in July after a federal trial.

In the same interview, he also suggested “Jewish Zionists” were behind a recent disclosure by his former wife, Kim Kardashian. “On TMZ, I just saw yesterday, they said, ‘Pete Davidson and Kim have sex by the fireplace to honor their grandmother.’ It’s Jewish Zionists that’s about that life, that’s telling this Christian woman that has four Black children to put that out as a message in the media.”

Recently, the Anti-Defamation League said Ye’s comments “espouse antisemitic tropes about Jewish intimidation, power and control.”

Following threats of legal action, Floyd’s family released a statement confirming they were seeking $250 million in a lawsuit against Ye.

Following his most recent comments, few if any notable locals even addressed his statements, and even fewer Black voices.

Despite past controversies such as his infamous “slavery was a choice” comment, some say the 24 Grammy-winning rapper and writer and clothing designer behind the Yeezy sports shoe remains a revered figure in Chicago, where he once promised schoolchildren that he was moving back. West has helped local rappers such as Chief Keef and Chance the Rapper gain a wider audience.

“Kanye is not losing fans, at least it doesn’t seem like that in my world,” said media publisher Morgan Elise Johnson. “For those Kanye disciples, they’re just kind of rolling with him no matter what he says or does at this point and I’ve learned that I’m not going to convince these people. For us, it’s a constant battle about what Kanye’s messaging we are going to address or not,” Johnson said.

Johnson’s online culture publication, The Triibe, and its staff have taken to fact-checking West’s controversial statements as a way of countering what they call misinformation. “We’ve been having that conversation internally on how much energy do we give it,” Johnson said. “If we pick on it, are we emphasizing it? If we ignore it, are we letting misinformation spread unchecked? It’s a constant back and forth.”

Over the weekend, Triibe editor in chief Tiffany Walden posted links to fact-checked information regarding the rapper’s claims, representing one of the few black entities willing to address it.

Johnson said she was fearful that his statements, particularly the comments on Floyd, could weaken the hard fought gains made by community grassroots activists who have built networks between the police deaths of Michael Brown and Floyd.

“Everything that happened with Donald Trump happened because words resonated with people and it mobilized a lot of White supremacist activity that is making present times really dangerous for Black people,” Johnson said. “And I just really wish Kanye understood that and that his words were baiting and undermining a lot of progressive grassroots work that is being done, particularly by Black women and queer youths.”

Another rare area voice who spoke out against the rapper’s comments was attorney and local media personality Exavier Pope, who posted several critical posts of the rapper’s recent statements, calling them destructive.

Pope, who runs his own law firm, shared concerns similar to Johnson regarding the rapper’s turn toward right wing politics that began with his alignment with Donald Trump. Seeing himself as a social media “referee,” Pope said he felt compelled to speak out against his words while still holding on to his respect for the man.

“I thought Kanye West was misusing his platform,” Pope told the Tribune this week. “People have a responsibility when they have a platform, particularly in the time that we’re living in, when we see attack on civil rights and voting rights.”

“This is someone who has done so much in the industry and has been outspoken in very positive ways. Why go cut against the grain and then go a completely different direction? This is the wrong time in history. This is the wrong time in your life to be saying and doing some of these things and the net effect of this is damaging to the African American community,” Pope said.

The disconnect between the rapper and his controversial comments is common refrain for fans who wish to separate an artist’s work from their unpopular views, said Paul Booth, a DePaul professor who studies pop culture.

“That to me is interesting — that there are people that don’t want to talk about anything other than the art because they don’t think it matters, and then there are people that think that that’s all that matters,” Booth said.

He agreed there are fans who try to “separate politics from the artist certainly by people that like the art. It’s easy to say, ‘All I want to talk about is the art because that’s all that’s really important,’ but then there’s lots of other people who might say, ‘You can’t separate art from the artist and the beliefs and values and the actions of the artist themselves plays a role in the art.’ When you buy Kanye West’s albums or downloads, you are passively and financially supporting someone.

“Artist’s background is important, but I don’t think there’s an answer to that. I think everyone has to decide for themselves how they feel about, but everyone should be aware of it happening.”

Johnson said she hopes the rapper will be more mindful of his public statements as young activists work doggedly to create a response to rising extremist sentiment.

“Words matter. I go back and forth with people all the time. It was just words on a shirt with ‘White Lives Matter’ on it. And I’m saying nothing is just words on a shirt. If that was the case, advertising wouldn’t matter. Lyrics wouldn’t matter. Books wouldn’t matter. Nothing would matter.”

In the decade or so that I’ve been a public writer, I’ve not really seen a need to give Candace Owens that much of my energy. I’ve been happy to keep her name out of my mouth and out of my work.

But I have to hand it to Owens — the Connecticut native is a Black woman who stands at the nexus of one impressively sleek, silk-pressed maneuver. And at the tangled root of it all? Anti-Blackness and white supremacy.

Impressive for someone who once sued her high school over racist threats and bullying.

By now, we all know that rapper-turned-professional-troll Kanye West, who legally changed his name to Ye, made headlines two weeks ago for posing with Owens in “White Lives Matter” shirts during Paris Fashion Week. Ye also posted an Instagram message saying “Black lives matter is a scam,” then followed that up with a stew of antisemitic remarks, which caused him to be deplatformed from Instagram and Twitter. But there was Owens again, coming to his defense with an impressively “up is down” parsing of what he said. Owens insisted that no “honest person” would conclude that West’s words — he wrote that he was going to go “death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE” — were antisemitic.

Turns out Kanye was giving us a sneak preview of his friend’s work — Owens later premiered her documentary “exposing” Black Lives Matter, claiming that George Floyd died from a fentanyl overdose, not the knee on his neck. That assertion was proved false during former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s trial for murder in the case. West went on to repeat those claims on a Revolt TV broadcast interview while plugging Owens’s documentary. (After the Floyd family threatened to sue, the interview was pulled from YouTube.)

Then Monday, the final piece of this puzzling sequence fell into place when the right-wing social media platform Parler announced that West would be buying it.

Here’s the shot: Parler's extreme “free speech” ethos is infamous for finding favor with right-wingers, white supremacists and some who planned the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection.

Then Monday, the final piece of this puzzling sequence fell into place when the right-wing social media platform Parler announced that West would be buying it.

Here’s the shot: Parler's extreme “free speech” ethos is infamous for finding favor with right-wingers, white supremacists and some who planned the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection.

Trafficking in anti-Blackness is one of the United States’ most profitable activities. Owens is clearly happy to ride that train on Kanye West’s back, all the way to the bank.

Fallout over Kanye West's controversial and antisemitic comments continues. Balenciaga, the French fashion house that's had a long-standing relationship with West and his ex-wife, Kim Kardashian, announced it's severed ties with the rapper.

"Balenciaga has no longer any relationship nor any plans for future projects related to this artist," its parent company Kering told WWD in a statement. It did not elaborate further. Earlier this month, West walked the runway for Balenciaga's 2023 Paris Fashion Week show — just one day before the Grammy winner's "White Lives Matter" stunt at his own Yeezy presentation.

West immediately faced backlash after the show. In subsequent interviews, including one with Fox News Channel's Tucker Carlson, he remained defiant while also spewing antisemitic rhetoric as part of his defense. Balenciaga is the first major company to end its relationship with West. In an op-ed for Financial Times, Ari Emanuel specifically called out Apple and Spotify not to do business with West.

"West is not just any person — he is a pop culture icon with millions of fans around the world," the powerful Hollywood agent wrote. "And among them are young people whose views are still being formed. This is why it is necessary for all of us to speak out. Hatred and antisemitism should have no place in our society, no matter how much money is at stake."

Emanuel praised his clients, LeBron James and Maverick Carter, for not airing West's interview on the The Shop, which purportedly contained dangerous rhetoric.

"Those who continue to do business with West are giving his misguided hate an audience," the Endeavor CEO added. "There should be no tolerance anywhere for West's antisemitism. This is a moment in history where the stakes are high and being open about our values, and living them, is essential. Silence and inaction are not an option."

Practically no public figures have come to West's defense, but Trevor Noah offered a different take on the situation. The "Runaway" rapper has frequently bashed The Daily Show host, even calling Noah a racial slur earlier this year, but Noah made clear there is no "beef" with West as that has to be two-sided.

"I was never beefing with Kanye West, I was concerned about Kanye West," Noah recently said while filming his show. The comedian called out publications for giving West an outlet while he may be dealing with mental health issues.

"If somebody says to me, or to anyone, that they have a mental health issue, and they say to everyone that when they don't take their medication, they're unable to control themselves and then everyone ignores when that person is having an episode and they haven't taken their medication, and then they platform the person and then they put them out. I sometimes think it's a little shitty to be honest with you," Noah said.

"My grandfather was bipolar, and one thing we knew in the family was — and I'm not saying Kanye is, by the way — I'm just saying my grandfather was," Noah added. "When he was having one of his episodes, he could act in a certain way... but our job was to support him."

After a string of controversial outbursts in 2018, West revealed he was bipolar. He hasn't spoken much about the diagnosis since. The rapper has slammed anyone who tries to relate his public statements to his mental health.

"I don't have beef with that human being. What I have beef with is us as a society not coming together around a person and going like, hey, hey, hey, maybe this is not the moment to put a microphone in your face, so you just go off saying everything," Noah added. "If this is what you want to say when you're on your medication, then that's a different story, but because you've told us that, I'm not gonna sit by."

West is in hot water legally for what he's been saying, too. George Floyd's daughter will be suing the rapper for comments he made questioning Floyd's cause of death.

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