Kanye West and the pervasiveness of antisemitism

DARCY DAENZER
STAFF WRITER

11/7/2022

On October 25, Adidas officially cut ties with Kanye West, adding to the long list of brands and companies that have dropped the artist, who now goes by Ye.

The dissolution of Ye’s and Adidas’s partnership has been a long time coming as Ye has made more and more insensitive and antisemitic remarks, coupled with actions that have been traditionally associated with white supremacists.

This past September, at Paris Fashion Week, Ye showed up at an impromptu show with a shirt that had “White Lives Matter” printed on the back. This phrase was popularized by white supremacists in 2015 as a response to the Black Lives Matter movement.

In early October, Ye accused the rapper Sean “Diddy” Combs of “being controlled by Jewish people,” said Remy Tumin in a New York Times article.

After being suspended from Instagram, he “tweeted that he would soon go ‘death con 3 On JEWISH PEOPLE,’” said Tumin. Soon after, Twitter also suspended him.

Additionally, he “falsely said George Floyd died from fentanyl use, not from a Minneapolis police officer’s kneeling on Mr. Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes,” said Tumin. These are only a handful of the comments and actions that Ye has said and done in recent months.

In a non-exhaustive list, Ye has been dropped from Adidas, Balenciaga, Vogue and Anna Wintour, CAA (a talent agency) and his lawyer.

Also, his streams, sales and airplay have dramatically decreased, he has been suspended from Instagram and Twitter, his stadium shows were cancelled and his documentary was shelved.

While dropping Ye was a step in the right direction for Adidas, the company only made the decision after being pressured to do so as their stock had “dropped 23 percent over the past month as Ye’s erratic behavior drew criticism,” said Sorkin et al. of the New York Times.

But just because Ye is finally seeing the consequence of his actions does not mean that antisemitism will automatically go away.

Antisemitism is not isolated to just one person, and it did not die after the Holocaust. It is still very much alive and is picking up more traction every year.

In the 2017 report of the Anti-Defamation League’s index, they “tracked 2,107 incidents of vandalism, violence and harassment toward Jews in the United States,” said Michelle Boorstein and Isaac Arnsdorf of The Washington Post.

Today, and every day, it is important to show support for the Jewish community. Some of the ways we can support the community is to “amplify Jewish voices and check in with your Jewish friends, loved ones and colleagues,” said Ariel Loves from her blog arielloves.com.

Furthermore, we can “support Jewish-owned businesses, read up on Jewish history and donate to organizations and initiatives that fight antisemitism,” said Loves.

It is important that we speak up when we hear “antisemitic or stereotypical remarks or jokes…even though [these conversations] may be difficult or uncomfortable,” said Loves.

Fighting antisemitism is just as important as fighting against any other injustice we may know about. We should not become complacent because we believe that antisemitism does not exist today. It does, and it will take all of us to fight against it.

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