Weeks after debuting controversial “White Lives Matter” shirts at Paris Fashion Week, Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, donated a box of the T-shirts to homeless people on Skid Row — and Los Angeles advocates criticized the move, calling Ye a “faux-morality based grifter.”
“Nowhere in this country does Black Lives Matter less than in Skid Row,” the Los Angeles Community Action Network (LACAN) wrote on Instagram Thursday.
“Kanye came to the most economically deprived and abandoned corner of LA to dump his trash and tell a community of unhoused and marginally housed, as well as heavily-policed Black people, that White Lives Matter,” activist Pete White said on LACAN’s Instagram.
White called on Ye to “keep your uninformed, misguided, attention-seeking rhetoric and actions out of our community.”
“We are incensed that you continue to make a mockery and political prop of Black Angelenos — you should know better,” White continued.
In a statement to Insider, White said that Ye’s “latest hateful antic shows just how far removed he’s become.”
“While his platform could be used for good, he chooses otherwise. It feels like just another performative act to inch closer to some imagined base of power,” White said to Insider. “Kanye, please take a seat, take some time, or take yourself away from folks struggling to survive.”
Pastor Stephen “Cue” Jn-Marie, who has been serving the Skid Row community for 16 years, called out Ye in another Instagram post for LACAN.
“Kanye has consistently been exploited by those in his orbit, who play to his larger than life ego by propping him up as a ‘genius’ while simultaneously allowing his most self-destructive tendencies, outrageous behavior and dangerous, ill-informed rhetoric to go unchecked and unchallenged,” he said.
He added that those — namely “celebrities and so-called ‘people of faith'” — who “come to clear their conscience by dropping off a meal or two … deeply offends those of us who are in the community with our houseless neighbors all the time.”
“All they’ve really done is add insult to injury by exploiting the vulnerability of the community,” he said.
The Pastor invoked the Bible in his Instagram post for LACAN, saying that Ye was not “promoting peace” by donating the “White Lives Matter” shirts to Skid Row.
“Imagine having to choose between needing clothing and actively promoting a political trope you disagree with,” he wrote. “For a man who has enough money to single-handedly house half of Skid Row’s Black folks for LIFE and still have millions in the bank, he chose to pass out politically charged t-shirts instead.”
Skid Row is an impoverished area of downtown LA that serves as the epicenter for houseless people in the city.
According to LACAN, Skid Row was created in 1976 as a “containment zone to ensure housing and services for poor, predominantly Black Angelenos.”
The organization added that its a “contemporary version of the ‘Tale of Two Cities,'” saying that it was made to “hide the violent outcomes of racialized segregation, redlining, racial covenants, de-industrialization, welfare reform, the introduction and devastation caused by crack cocaine, and the building of the world’s largest prison industrial complex to cage Black bodies.”
According to LACAN, five houseless people on Skid Row die every day.
“We’ve made the best out of absolutely nothing,” White said. “Yes, Black Lives Matter here!”
Representatives for Ye did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
Correction: October, 23, 2022 — An earlier version of this story cited advocacy group LACAN about the number of daily deaths on Skid Row. LACAN previously said one in five houseless people on Skid Row die every day, but has since corrected its statement to say five people die on Skid Row per day.