Editor’s Note: This story contains mention of antisemitism.
Ye, born Kanye West, is an American rapper who recently made headlines again for his antisemitic rhetoric on Twitter.
He tweeted late on Oct. 8 that he was going “death con 3 on Jewish people." This display of antisemitism is appalling, and it is concerning that a public figure with such a large audience would use his platform to promote hateful speech.
During Paris Fashion week, just a week before this comment, Ye was pictured with right-wing political commentator, Candace Owens, wearing a shirt that read, “White Lives Matter.” The “White Lives Matter” sentiment spits on the face of the Black Lives Matter movement and all they continue to fight for. This incident had already been a cause for major concern surrounding Ye.
Ye’s public display of antisemitism was followed by many individuals coming out to condemn his rhetoric. American comedian Sarah Silverman took to Twitter to share her frustration with the lack of support for Jewish people after Ye’s tweet.
“Kanye threatened the Jews yesterday on Twitter, and it’s not even trending,” Silverman said. “Why do mostly only Jews speak up against Jewish hate? The silence is so loud.”
Some compared Ye’s tweet to the antisemitic talking points that led to the Holocaust. Actress Jamie Lee Curtis urged Ye to stop using his words to incite violence in a tweet on Oct. 9 and said, “a threat to Jewish people ended once in a genocide.”
[Related: COLUMN: It's impossible to separate the art from the artist]
This comparison is completely justified. Since Ye made this tweet, antisemitic individuals have taken to the streets in support of Ye and the Nazi party.
According to a Gizmodo article, an antisemitic hate group hung banners above a busy highway Oct. 22 in Los Angeles that read, “honk if you know Kanye is right about the Jews.” Members stood above the banners and were pictured doing the Nazi salute.
Evidently, modern day Nazis are using Ye’s words to defend their bigotry. This is completely unacceptable and deplorable, and his words have further put the entire Jewish population at risk.
In response to his comments, the public called for brands supporting Ye to cut ties with him.
Balenciaga was one of the first brands to denounce Ye. Balenciaga said they no longer have a relationship with Ye nor do they plan to work on anything with him in the future.
According to Fortune, many other brands soon followed suit, such as Creative Artists Agency, Cohen Clair Lans Greifer Thorpe & Rottenstreich and Foot Locker. Gap and Ye had publicly terminated their contract last month, but Ye’s products were still available in Gap stores. Due to the tweet, Gap immediately shut down the portal to buy Ye’s shoe brand Yeezy from them. They also removed all remaining Yeezy products from their stores.
[Related: Black Voices: Kanye West drops a three-part documentary]
MRC Entertainment had filmed a documentary about Ye, but decided to shelf the release due to his antisemitic comments, according to another Fortune article.
A company that many were waiting to speak out about their partnership with Ye was Adidas. Adidas had their partnership with Ye under review after the Paris Fashion week incident. But, the public pushed for Adidas to drop their contract with Ye entirely.
According to an NBC article, Adidas dropped the artist following pressure from the public. Tony Posnanski, among others on Twitter, said this was purely a business move for Adidas and the decision did not come from a moral standpoint.
Personally, I can see why some people believe this was a calculated business move from Adidas. However, it is still a positive thing that they made the decision to drop Ye. Seeing brands drop Ye is a great step in the right direction, but the problem is certainly not solved.
Ye is a dangerous individual who does not deserve to have a platform. As a public figure, you have a duty to your audience to use your influence for good. Ye has done the exact opposite.
We must love and protect the Jewish community and part of that includes condemning Ye’s actions and continuing to hold anyone accountable who continues to associate with him.
Ravana Gumm (she/her) is a freshman studying journalism.