Kanye West slammed the Black Lives Matter movement in response to the White Lives Matter shirts at his YZY SZN9 show, and his comments have drawn criticism from a number of figures. Wanda Cooper-James, the mother of hate crime victim Ahmaud Arbery, recently spoke out against West after the rapper referred to Black Lives Matter as a “scam” on social media.
In a statement through her attorney, Cooper-James denounced West’s “mockery” of the BLM movement, deeming it in stark contrast with his assistance and support of the families of Arbery and others. “As a result of his display ‘White Lives Matter’ started trending in the U.S., which would directly support and legitimize extremist behavior, [much] like the behavior that took the life of her son,” the lawyer said in a statement to Rolling Stone. “That is the thing that Wanda and families like hers continue to fight against.”
Cooper-James’ attorney continued, adding “This mockery of the Black Lives Matter movement and his now denunciation of the movement as some sort of hoax flies directly in the face [of what he’s said]. It’s confusing for her, it’s confusing for the families to receive his support privately, but publicly to set us all back.”
The private support Cooper-James mentioned regarded West’s $2 million donation to the families of Arbery, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor back in June 2020. The rapper also covered all of the Arbery family’s legal fees in relation to the investigation and trial surrounding Arbery’s death. In addition to Kanye West, others were spotted wearing the White Lives Matter shirts, including polarizing political pundit Candace Owens and Lauryn Hill’s daughter, Selah Marley.
Ahmaud Arbery was shot to death in Satilla Shores, a neighborhood in Glynn County, Georgia, in a racially-motivated murder in February 2020. The three men involved, Travis McMichael, Greg McMichael, and William “Roddie” Bryan were all found guilty of federal hate crimes and are currently serving out their prison sentences.