- A Los Angeles woman decided to give the Skid Row community another shirt after Kanye West dumped his “White Lives Matter” shirts there.
- Shirley Raines, who has served the community for years, handed out different shirts.
- “He put a broken, at-risk community at even greater risk,” she told Insider.
A Los Angeles activist who does outreach on the city’s infamous Skid Row told Insider that Kanye West’s recent stunt to hand out “White Lives Matter” shirts to the transient and vulnerable population there was extremely harmful.
That’s why Shirley Raines decided to help remove the West’s shirts from Skid Row and hand out alternative shirts to the community.
“He put a broken, at-risk community at even greater risk,” said Raines, who has dedicated the last 7 years to serving people on Skid Row, a poverty-stricken neighborhood in the downtown area, with her non-profit organization Beauty 2 The Streetz. “There’s language barriers. They might not understand what that shirt says. There’s mental illnesses where they might not understand what that shirt says.”
Her organization helps thousands and offers food, clothing, hygiene, and makeup services to individuals who live there.
The rapper and fashion designer, who now goes by Ye, received pushback from other local advocates after reports that he donated a box of his controversial “White Lives Matter” T-shirts to unhoused people on Skid Row.
The shirts caused a public outcry after they were launched during his show during Paris Fashion Week. He soon after told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson that he sported the shirt because he was using “a gut instinct, a connection with God, and just brilliance.”
Raines, however, denounced West for possibly making the Skid Row community targets for violence.
“They may not care what the shirt says because they’re so desperate to be warm that they’ll wear whatever they can get their hands on, in which case, someone driving in a car on the street could see them wearing a White Lives Matter shirt, and jump out [at them],” she said.
Per the Anti-Defamation League, the “White Lives Matter” slogan is used as a direct response to the Black Lives Matter movement by white supremacist groups, including the Texas-based Aryan Renaissance Society.
Raines said although she heard about people having it in their possession, she didn’t personally see the shirts while on Skid Row. Regardless, she wanted to give the community another option so she handed out plain Black T-shirts as an alternative.
“It wasn’t a statement with the color of the shirts. It’s just what I had on hand,” Raines explained. “We just wanted to provide choices for people who didn’t want that controversial statement and didn’t want to roll like that.”
West has been in hot water this month following the T-shirt controversy and his multiple antisemitic rants. His antics have destroyed his billion-dollar empire and caused music and fashion heavyweights to cut ties with him.
Other advocates, such as Pastor Stephen “Cue” Jn-Marie, also slammed West, saying that “Skid Row often becomes the backdrop for faux-morality-based grifters like Kanye West.”
For Raines, she said she will clean up the mess of those with major influence who try to pull a similar stunt at Skid Row.
“Just know that for whatever he does, there’s somebody like our organization that’s going to go behind them and fix it, because the community is not going to stand for certain things,” she said.
“I think that’s being shown right now that the community will step up.”