Kanye West has faced an unprecedented amount of backlash since pulling the now infamous “White Lives Matter” t-shirt stunt at his Paris fashion show Monday. His critics have ranged from Gigi Hadid to Jaden Smith, but a more important one has emerged.
Wanda Cooper-Jones, the mother of the late Ahmaud Arbery, has publicly expressed her disdain via Rolling Stone magazine. In 2020, 25-year-old Arbery was killed by three white neighbors who shot him while he was out on a jog. In August, they were all sentenced to life in prison for committing a federal hate crime.
The statement given to the publication through her attorney, Lee Merritt, explained:
“As a result of his display ‘White Lives Matter’ started trending in the U.S., which would direct support and legitimize extremist behavior, [much] like the behavior that took the life of her son. That is the thing that Wanda and families like hers continue to fight against. This mockery of the Black Lives Matter movement and his now denunciation of the movement as some sort of hoax flies directly in the face [of what he’s said}. It’s confusing for her, it’s confusing for the families to receive his support privately, but publicly to set us all back.”
Merritt also told Rolling Stone that West had given money to Arbery’s family and the family of Jemel Roberson (a Black security guard who was killed by police in 2018). However, an amount wasn’t disclosed.
On Tuesday, West went to social media to reiterate his stance and stated: “Everyone knows that Black Lives Matter was a scam. Now it’s over. You’re welcome.”