A Plea to Fashion Media: Stop Covering Ye Uncritically

There is no purpose for this kind of conduct, and it only gets enabled by free, fawning media attention. So, again, I come with a plea to fashion editors, journalists, headline writers, social media managers, and editors-in-chief: Please. Stop. Covering. Kanye. Uncritically.

Every post about one of his “‘fits of the day,” every tweet about his latest collaboration (which will eventually fall apart), every meeting you take or show you cover — it’s all enabling, complicit behavior. We need to make a collective, concerted effort to stop, and make it last for more than one season, as one of my staff members said this morning.

Since I started my current job, we’ve had thoughtful conversations among staff about whether it’s worth covering the latest Yeezy collaboration (it’s not), or if/how we cover him, period. I have wondered at the breathlessness of fashion media coverage of him and been told that it’s all about clicks, it’s all about money — and it’s all about people who may not want to look closely at the type of behavior they’re enabling or amplifying.

I started my career in political journalism, and I believe there are lessons fashion and culture writers can take from the ongoing media debate over how to cover a conspiracy-theory-touting narcissist like former President Trump. Any uncritical airtime or website/social media space you offer only adds fuel to the fire of attention-seeking. If you must cover them, cover them with context, an eye toward accuracy, reality, history, and motivation. And know that each bit of attention you give them is attention you’re not giving to someone else, including young, emerging designers who may deserve a chance.

Editors, writers, commentators: You have more power and influence than you may think. People follow you for a reason. Consider how to use that platform responsibly.

I have some hope that things will be different this time — at least temporarily — but not a lot. I am seeing people who have often stayed silent about Ye or contributed to uncritical coverage of him now question themselves openly, question their complicity in making or keeping him relevant. Part of me is frustrated that it took him stooping this low to get people to wake up — his previous flirtations with MAGA, anti-Blackness, and toxic behavior weren’t enough?! — but some progress is better than none.

Sadly, I also think the renewed positive media coverage of Dolce & Gabbana may be a prescient model that shows, with time, these things blow over and people choose to forget. (Shout-out to stylist and creative Shibon Kennedy for saying we need to stop on both counts.)

As Shelton Boyd-Griffith writes for us in a forthcoming op-ed, “If we’re being honest, Kanye feels safe and at home in fashion because, systematically, fashion has always been a safe space for anti-Blackness, misogyny, fatphobia, and all-around bigotry.”

Like Shelton, I used to be a Kanye fan. I loved his albums, I went to his concerts, I defended him to my white friends when I thought they were being unfair. I’m from Louisiana, and when he called out George W. Bush for the massive government failures after Hurricane Katrina, I thought it was iconic. I know I’m not alone in feeling like the not-so-new Kanye is, in many ways, a betrayal of the old Kanye — something even he has acknowledged.

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