Kanye West says the black T-shirt he wore to a Paris fashion show Monday emblazoned with the words “White Lives Matter” across the back with a photo of the pope on its front drew a threat of physical violence.
In a sit-down interview with Fox News host Tucker Carlson that aired Thursday night, West said he received a phone call after the surprise show in France, which was presented for the rapper’s Yzy fashion collection.
“I had someone call me last night and said anybody wearing a ‘white lives matter’ shirt is going to be green-lit,” West said. “That means they are going to beat them up if they wear it. I’m like, you know, OK, green light me then.”
The event was attended by celebrities like Beyoncé, Rihanna, Angelina Jolie, Lauryn Hill, Naomi Campbell, Emily Ratajkowski, Gisele Bündchen and Bella Hadid and featured a Sunday Service-style musical number that included a children’s choir (West’s daughter North West was among the singers).
Online, there was immediate debate as to whether it was some kind of marketing stunt or just him trolling. And although Ye has a well-documented history of mental illness, he has also shown himself to, time and time again, promote extremely conservative values and ideologues, like him wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat and meeting with former president Donald Trump in an official endorsement.
In Thursday’s interview, West also said he has faced threats for wearing the MAGA hat and that he was told by people close to him that he would face professional repercussions for publicly supporting Trump.
“My so-called friends, handlers around me told me if I said that I liked Trump that my career would be over — that my life would be over,” West told Fox News. “They said stuff like people get killed for wearing a hat like that. They threatened my life. They basically said that I would be killed for wearing the hat.”
While it wasn’t certain who made the threats over the T-shirt and MAGA hat, Twitter on Monday responded en masse to his bizarre sartorial choice for his fashion show.
In a since-deleted post, Jaden Smith denounced the move, saying that he can’t stand behind West’s choice and that “he does not have the full support of the youth.” The son of Will and Jada Pinkett Smith has left tweets up saying “Black Lives Matter” and “I Don’t Care Who’s It Is If I Don’t Feel The Message I’m Out.”
“Uphill” author Jemele Hill called the sweatshirt “dangerously dumb.” Writer Meecham Meriweather said, “Kanye SHOWS y’all and TELLS y’all he doesn’t care about the black community and yet and still y’all be right there at Sunday Service buying every GI Joe boot and every piece of raggedy fabric he drops.”
Drew Taylor contributed to this report.