Kanye West knows how to draw attention to himself as a creative 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 sweater - a reckoning with the US civil rights movement Black Lives Matter against police violence, West later confirmed . White Lives Matter suggests that white lives are also (if not more) in danger.
It would probably go too far to put West in the vicinity of right-wing extremist organizations. But the slogan on his sweater is used in relevant neo-Nazi groups. Since 2015, the "Aryan Renaissance Society" and the Ku Klux Klan, among others, have been advertising with "White Lives Matter". But even if one were to assume that the rapper was ignorant of this environment: West in Paris certainly did not succeed in subversively criticizing the identitarian abbreviated postmodernism.
That does not mean, however, that corresponding considerations are out of place per se. The US police shoot more African Americans relative to the population density, but quantitatively most of the victims are white. The problem of an ethnocentric view of the problem is acknowledged by even some black leftists. In an interview with WELT, political scientist Cedric Johnson recently confirmed that in many places police violence tends to take place in a class context. Victims are poor of all ethnic groups.
If those affected understood themselves to be members of an oppressed class across gender and ethnic groups, the solution would be a class movement that would act together against their oppressors - not only in terms of police violence, but also against poor wages and working conditions and a lack of health care. Instead of declaring themselves to be victims of identity, those who rightly feel marginalized – i.e. workers of all skin colors – should rather organize together in unions.
But none of these considerations matter in the context of White Lives Matter. Instead, with his provocative slogan, West only contributes to the legitimacy of another supposed group of victims - a group of victims that is of course not one. Because even if white people suffer from poverty, precarious jobs and poor health care to a large extent, their skin color has nothing to do with it.