Guilford students respond to swirl of controversy around Kanye West


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Kanye West seen performing with a flashy watch and dramatic mood lighting.

In mid-September and early to mid-October, the infamous rapper Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, found himself in a mire of back-to-back controversies. First, he made a surprise appearance at Paris Fashion Week, opening the Balenciaga 2023 spring/summer collection on Oct. 2. Ye was spotted wearing a shirt emblazoned with the historically white supremacist slogan “White Lives Matter” on the back. Candace Owens, a black Republican commentator, was pictured in a matching shirt next to Ye after the show.

Less than a week later, he was reportedly banned from Instagram and Twitter for making anti-Semitic posts, claiming he plans to go “death con 3” on Jewish people on Oct. 8, 2022.  According to the Jewish Chronicles, Ye was attempting to refer to DEFCON 3, a level on the military alert system created and controlled by the United States government. Events in history placed at this level include the Cuban missile crisis and the Sept. 11 attacks. Both Twitter and Instagram viewed these comments as threats and used them as reasons to suspend Ye’s accounts. JP Morgan closed all accounts in West’s name in response to the Twitter controversy. In addition, Adidas, the company responsible for producing Ye’s shoe collection, has ended its partnership with Ye.

This is not the first time that Ye has been scrutinized for his inflammatory comments. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, he claimed on a live broadcast that George Bush, the president at the time, “doesn’t care about black people.” In 2009, he stormed the stage when Taylor Swift accepted a VMA award for Best Female Video. He stole the microphone from her and made a statement about how he thought Beyonce deserved the award instead of Taylor.

Kanye seems to make a habit of making his most head-turning statements on live TV. In 2018, he went on a long political rant at the end of the season premiere of  “Saturday Night Live” while sporting a hat emblazoned with “Make America Great Again,” the coined slogan for former president Donald J. Trump.  

Guilford College first-year Joshua Wilson considered himself a Ye fan until West’s anti-Semitic comments.

“The comment about Jewish people was an active threat to people in a community outside of his own…it was the tipping point for me,” he said.

Josh is an active DJ for WQFS, the Guilford College radio station. He has actively taken the rapper off all of his set lists and personal playlists, refusing to voluntarily support his music.

“As a person of color, I can say it’s not a good look for us,” Wilson said. “Within our community it’s fine, but once it extends to anti-Semitism that’s where the line has to be drawn.”

Fellow first-year and former Ye listener Ella Barton-Biegelsen is an active member of the Jewish community in Greensboro. She claims that she wasn’t surprised in the slightest by his comments, saying that she was aware of his former tweets that were directed at other marginalized groups, and that she felt it was only a matter of time before her community was targeted.

“I think he has a lot of influence and he’s using it recklessly, but it’s important to keep in mind that he does suffer from bipolar disorder,” she said. “I still think we should hold him to the same standards as everyone else…(but) this is a chance to practice not stigmatizing mental illness by calling him crazy.”

In his first TV appearance after the Twitter controversy, Ye appeared on “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” a far-right conservative talk show. during which Carlson voiced his agreement with Ye’s anti-Semitic statements. His 11th and most recent studio album, “Donda 2,” was released in February of this year. He also reportedly plans to buy Parler, a right-wing social media platform, as his next big move into the spotlight.