Kanye West legitimizes a victim group that isn’t at all
The American rapper provoked at the Paris Fashion Show with a slogan on his sweater, which is also used by the Ku Klux Klan. That way he is guaranteed to get attention. But his apparent critique of identity politics failed for one reason in particular.
kAnye West knows how to draw attention to herself as a creative person and with strange escapades. The black rapper, music producer and fashion designer made headlines on Monday when he appeared at Paris Fashion Week wearing a White Lives Matter jersey — a reckoning with the American civil rights movement Black Lives Matter against police brutality, West later confirmed. White Lives Matter suggests that white lives are also (if not more) in danger.
It would probably go too far to place West near far-right organizations. But the slogan on his jersey is used in relevant neo-Nazi groups. Since 2015, the “Aryan Renaissance Society” and the Ku Klux Klan, among others, have been advertising “White Lives Matter”. But even if one were to assume that the rapper was ignorant of this environment: West in Paris certainly failed to subversively criticize the identitarian abbreviated postmodernism.
That does not mean, however, that corresponding considerations are inappropriate in themselves. US police shoot more African Americans relative to population density, but quantitatively most of the victims are white. The problem of an ethnocentric view of the problem is recognized even by some black leftists. In an interview with WELT, political scientist Cedric Johnson recently confirmed that in many places, police brutality takes place within the classroom. Victims are poor from all ethnic groups.
If those affected understood that they are members of an oppressed class, regardless of gender and ethnic groups, the solution would be a class movement that would act together against their oppressors – not only in terms of police brutality, but also against poor wages and working conditions and a lack of health care. Rather than declare themselves victims of identity, those who rightly feel marginalized – ie workers of all skin colors – would rather organize themselves together in unions.
But none of these considerations matter in the context of White Lives Matter. Instead, West’s provocative slogan only adds to the legitimacy of another alleged group of victims – one that admittedly isn’t one. Because even though whites largely suffer from poverty, precarious jobs and poor health care, their skin color has nothing to do with it.