Nay to Ye: Students divided over whether to support problematic creators


Matt Petres

Students respond differently in choosing whether or not they support problematic creators.

When Lauren Tapper, who identifies as Jewish, opened her 2022 Spotify Wrapped, she was not surprised to find Ye among her most-streamed artists. Having heard about the antisemitism he was publicly spreading, Lauren felt disappointed that someone she spent so much time supporting would direct hate toward her ethnicity. In response to his actions, she has since stopped listening to his music and blocked him as an artist on Spotify.

Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, has spent the last couple of months spreading antisemitic sentiments through interviews and Twitter posts. Recently, he praised Adolf Hitler while speaking with conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, and was later banned from Twitter after posting a hateful image.

Student responses to Ye’s statements have been starkly different. While some opted to boycott the rapper’s music and brand, others instead chose to distinguish between their opinions of his actions and work.

“I’ve seen a really wide range of reactions to Kanye’s words,” Lauren said. “I’ve seen some people who take it way more lightly, who are still wearing Yeezys, who are still listening to his music, and I’ve seen people that have been severely hurt by his words — people who can’t talk about the issue without getting red in the face and upset.”

Some students, like sophomore Uma Malani, who is Jewish, choose not to take his actions too seriously.

“They take it as a joke and I mean personally I kind of still take it as a joke and I haven’t stopped listening to his music, but like it just lowers my respect for him,” Uma said.

On the other hand, junior Bella Waltzer, who is Jewish, was a fan of Ye’s studio album “Donda” but began boycotting his music in reaction to the antisemitic statements Ye made.

“I definitely stopped listening to him because supporting his music is kind of supporting his actions,” Bella said. “So I stopped listening to him and my overall view of him changed a lot.”

With many students excusing Ye’s behavior due to his bipolar disorder, Bella recognizes the challenges that come with holding him accountable for spreading antisemitism while understanding how difficulties with mental health could be affecting his actions.

Lauren said she noticed that although students initially viewed his actions as inconsequential, reports of a white nationalist holding up a sign reading “Jews will not replace us” at a rally in Virginia was a turning point when many realized the effect of Ye’s words.

“Even if those words don’t personally hurt you, and even if it doesn’t seem so severe to you and you still want to wear Yeezys and listen to his music,” Lauren said, “just know that by supporting Kanye’s brand you are sending the message to other people that you think it’s OK for someone of his fame to get away with hate speech.”