I Miss the Old Kanye


On Sunday, September 3, Kanye West released the casting call information for Season 4 of his clothing line, Yeezy. In addition to a location and date, West included an odd requirement which rubbed many people the wrong way; he asked that “multiracial women only” attend the casting. Outrage manifested on both social media platforms and as protests at the casting location.

Twitter exploded with jokes and criticism of what many people considered to be a ridiculous and offensive requirement. The request of multiracial models only touched upon a very sensitive issue. Dark-skinned women are constantly discriminated against, while light-skinned women are treated very differently. West’s request was seen by many as an implicit way of asking for women of color, but not women of too much color.

Fusion.net explained how West’s comment was interpreted and why exactly it was viewed as offensive. “Kanye West’s tweet was interpreted as a request for models who were not too black, light-skinned, had ‘good hair,’ and fit into the mainstream ideals of beauty.”

Season 2Protests against the rapper’s comments went beyond Twitter replies. One woman showed up topless at the location of the casting call to combat his words. The unidentified woman had powerful statements written across her chest and on the sign she held up. Her sign read “‘multiracial only’ = lightskin only…you ain’t slick, Ye”, while “they want black features but not black girls” was written on her chest.

“This casting call for ‘Multiracial ONLY’ (not MULTIETHNIC which would still be fetishization) asserts that Black can only be beautiful when ‘MIXED’ with another RACE. There is a history of wanting to dilute the Blackness of one’s children because of the longstanding stigmatization of Blackness,” stated the protester on her Instagram and Tumblr.

Her statement also further elaborated on the words scrawled across her chest saying, “It’s just facts that Black women are constantly told they are too dark, lips too big, hair [too] ghetto for in all professions only to see these same features or styles on non-Black women receive praise-(braids, gap teeth)-obviously the problem isn’t the style but the color of the women wearing it.”

The backlash caught the attention of West and he addressed the public’s concerns with his comments, attempting to communicate his intentions. West explained that the requirement was not meant to exclude anyone, but instead was supposed to ensure that there would be a variety of models of color. “How do you word the idea that you want all variations of black?” the designer stated. “How do you word that exactly?”

Despite all the controversy, the line premiered as scheduled on September 7 at Roosevelt Island’s Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park.

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