YZYSZN9 Is Trending
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YZYSZN9 Is Trending

by Kenna McCafferty

If we told you pre-2016 that Kanye West, who has shortened his name to Ye, would walk in Paris Fashion Week for Balenciaga, of which his ex-wife Kim Kardashian is an ambassador just weeks after ending his Gap x Balenciaga x YZY collab, you probably wouldn’t have believed us, nor would it have made much sense.

Now what if we told you that the next day, his surprise YZYSZN9 show would end with “White Lives Matter” trending on Twitter? We would probably open a hole in the space-time continuum. Unfortunately, the fallout of today’s YZYSZN9 fashion show is not a glitch in the matrix, but very much real.

While opening the show with an impassioned speech, West donned a long-sleeve shirt with the Pope’s face on the front and “White Lives Matter” on the back. As if that wasn’t controversial enough, he also sported the bedazzled flip-flops that sparked outrage and enthusiasm online just a week prior.

Some models wore the “White Lives Matter” shirt down the runway, and West posed side-by-side with Black conservative influencer Candace Owens in contrasting “White Lives Matter” shirts.

Though only a handful of West's inner circle attended, the show was also live-streamed, opening it up to immediate internet discourse, pontification and general mess. The name “Kanye West” quickly became the number one trending phrase on Twitter, with “White Lives Matter” just three rungs behind (after National Boyfriend Day and Elon... we can unpack that later).

Even though the show started an hour late, some were quick to jump ship as soon as the “White Lives Matter” shirt made an appearance.

Others stuck it out.

While the shock value of the statement was high, some weren’t surprised by West's continued use of white supremacist sentiments, from sporting a "Make America Great Again" hat to his Trump endorsement.

The Atlantic writer and cultural journalist Jemele Hill argued that even if the shirt was a supposed “media stunt,” its statement is irresponsible given West’s immeasurable influence and the loyalty of his fans.

Self-proclaimed “theocratic fascist” and What is A Woman documentary-maker Matt Walsh contested Hill, arguing that she “despise[s] white people” for criticizing West.

Building off the legacy of his 2018 claim that slavery was a choice, YZYSZN9 adds another layer to the ongoing discourse of West's racial theory. Though we may never fully decipher it, this will doubtfully be the last we, or the internet, hear of it.

Maybe we should follow Jaden Smith’s lead and take a moment to assess what really matters.

Photo courtesy of Jojo Korsh/BFA