By Kaitlyn McCormick
The discriminatory words and actions of rapper Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, have culminated in backlash from fans and partnerships following recent antisemetic remarks, bringing to light the ways in which celebrities are held accountable for their actions and the importance of doing so.
Ye has been no stranger to public criticism in the past, coming under fire for insensitive remarks regarding slavery, as well as recently sporting matching “White Lives Matter” shirts with well-known conservative commentator Candace Owens during his Paris Fashion Week show on Oct. 3.
His antisemetic remarks via Twitter this October, however, seem to be the final nail in Ye’s coffin of public perception, causing him to lose multiple partnerships and collaborations, including Gap, Balenciaga and most notably Adidas for his well-known Yeezy brand.
Senior elementary education major Eliana Evers and senior organizational psychology major Sydney Gold, co-presidents of Hillel, Rider’s Jewish club, explained the importance of holding celebrities like Ye accountable for their words and actions, as well as the impact their prejudice holds over minority populations.
Evers said, “I honestly feel that celebrities should be held accountable for their decisions … though they may be much more well known than others, purely based off talent, based off their acting, singing, whatever it may be, they shouldn’t feel entitled to say any sort of discriminatory remarks based off race, religion, anything.”
Gold said, “You have to know that offensive things that you are saying are going to impact someone.”
Rider President Gregory Dell’Omo and Chief Diversity Officer Barbara Lawrence released a joint statement to the university community via email on Oct. 27.
“We condemn such language and ideas without exception,” the statement read in part. “They have no place in any civil society and certainly not within our living and learning community, which uplifts and values our Jewish students, alumni, faculty and staff and the many contributions they regularly make to the university and to the world.”
Antisemitism transgressions in the U.S. have continued to rise; The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) cited that 2021 reached an all-time high for antisemitism in the U.S., with 2,717 incidents spanning from assault, harassment and vandalism reported to the organization.
Words of discrimination by people with large followings, such as Ye, have especially dangerous ramifications due to the space they create for others to feel comfortable expressing and acting on similar harmful viewpoints.
“It’s not right when people make those remarks, because then it almost empowers others to feel they have the right to not respect [Judaism],” Evers said.
And while many people have taken to social media platforms like Twitter to condemn Ye’s words, like Florida congresswoman Lois Frankel who tweeted on Oct. 28, “No one should spew hatred without consequence – not even the rich and famous,” there is still a large amount who have shown the rapper support during his consequential ‘cancelation,’ furthering Evers’ point.
In a time when social media makes it so easy, especially for celebrities, to publish their thoughts and opinions to expansive audiences, the concepts of accountability and consequence move closer and closer to the forefront.
“It’s really just maintaining awareness, is what I feel like everyone needs to work on,” Gold concluded.
Originally printed in the 11/9/22 issue.