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I’m so tired of hearing about Ye (the artist formerly known as Kanye West). But what I’m more worn out with is the hypocrisy of these companies. Today, it’s Adidas.
The other day he said Quentin Tarantino and Jamie Foxx stole his idea for the movie Django Unchained. In the past two weeks he’s been dropped from The CAA Talent Agency, Def Jam Records, Balenciaga and JPMorgan Chase.
And by now we’re all familiar with the conversation on the podcast Drink Champs where Ye said, “The thing about me and Adidas is like, I can literally say anti-semitic s**t, and they can’t drop me,” Ye says, before repeating himself slowly and solemnly. “I can say anti-Semitic things, and Adidas can’t drop me. Now what? Now what?”.
“The thing about it being Adidas — I can say antisemitic things and Adidas can’t drop me. Now what? Now what?”
— Rex Chapman?? (@RexChapman) October 21, 2022
Well, the unthinkable happened–Adidas dropped Kanye, too. And they dropped him for saying anti-semitic s**t.
Why did it take this long for Adidas to drop Kanye?
People petitioning the company to make this move are probably elated. However, those of us who remember Kanye’s comments about slavery being a choice, his support of brazen racist Donald Trump and his recent rocking of the “White Lives Matter” t-shirt got us asking questions. Mainly, why didn’t Adidas let him go a long time ago?
FACT: Before Kanye West was “the face of Anti-Semitism,” he was one of the hip-hop faces of misogynoir, anti-Blackness, Trumpism, and slavery-denial.
And y’all still gave him contracts, documentaries, endorsements, clothing deals, and millions that became billions.
— Ernest Owens (@MrErnestOwens) October 25, 2022
As I tend to do often, the question of “why” is a rhetorical one because we already know the answer. Black money matters to these companies but Black lives don’t.
Since teaming up with Ye in 2013, Adidas has raked in billions and has grown annually. According to the Washington Post, Adidas will be losing a nice slice of its annual business revenue in severing ties with the rapper. “Ye has had a significant impact on Adidas, with Yeezy generating an estimated $2 billion a year, close to 10 percent of the company’s annual revenue,” Morningstar analyst David Swartz said.
Seemingly unfazed by the loss, representatives for the company said:
“Adidas does not tolerate antisemitism and any other sort of hate speech. Ye’s recent comments and actions have been unacceptable, hateful and dangerous, and they violate the company’s values of diversity and inclusion, mutual respect and fairness. Antisemitism, racism and hate in any form are inexcusable and not tolerated in accordance with our values. On behalf of our customers, employees and shareholders, we are partnering with organizations that combat hate and discrimination.”
All lies. Adidas does tolerate hate speech and divisive and dangerous language and has had more than a few opportunities to prove us wrong.
Back in 2018 when Ye stood on his soapboax and said slavery was a choice, Adidas faced pressure to cut ties with the college dropout. But they didn’t because the CEO, Kasper Rorsted, said, “Kanye has helped us have a great comeback in the US.”
In June of 2020, Adidas released a statement saying, “It’s time to own up to our silence”, in light of the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other Black Americans. The company sent out a lengthy tweet expressing its commitment to diversifying its workforce and support for the Black Lives Matter Movement. A month later, that commitment was once again tested by their token workhouse, Kanye West.
During a campaign event when Ye was talking about running for president, he said Harriet Tubman never actually freed slaves–she just had them go work for white people. Public outrage over the misrepresentation of history ensued again and still crickets from Adidas.
Then we arrive at few weeks ago when Ye stood next to Candace “Black Karen” Owens in that “White Lives Matter” abomination at his fashion show in Paris.
Just in case you were not aware, the Southern Poverty Law Center defines White Lives Matter as a racist response to the civil rights movement Black Lives Matter and a neo-Nazi group that is growing into a movement as more and more white supremacist groups take up its slogans and tactics.
That last stunt nudged Adidas to question their partnership with Yeezy, not end it. And this contemplation occured conveniently after he went on multiple national platforms putting the company on blast and saying he wanted to break up with them anyway.
The math ain’t mathin’. One anti-semitic comment outweighed years of anti-black ones. And this isn’t pitting one struggle to another but for the company to say it cares about all of its customers and employees is untrue–it clearly only cares about some. So miss us with its righteous indignation and own up to that silence, Adidas.