A petition against Kanye West has gone viral in recent days. She asks the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) to withdraw the honorary doctorate awarded to rapper Kanye West in 2015. The list of losses suffered by Kanye West due to his recent spate of anti-Semitic statements is not short: Adidas, Balenciaga and Christie’s severed ties with the 2024 presidential candidate. The loss of revenue from his contract with Adidas, which was worth an estimated $1.5 million, drastically reduced West’s net worth, prompting Forbes to erase his name from its list of billionaires.
Now, a group called Against Hate at SAIC has posted a petition to pressure the school and its president Elissa Tenny to speak out against West’s continued xenophobic streak. “Kanye West’s hate speech incites violence and does not represent [sic] the values of our community. The School can and must terminate your Honorary Degree immediately,” the petition reads.
Since it was first published, the petition has had around 1,250 signatures. His original target was 500. West, who now goes by simply “Ye,” received an honorary doctorate in 2015. At the time, SAIC referred to West as “an advocate for education and a thinker and creator who often uses his work … to deconstruct stereotypes and stimulate cultural discourse on important social issues.”
Only the part about stimulating speech remains true. While West has a reputation for bizarre and unpopular comments, including once mentioning that African Americans who lived through 400 years of slavery sounded “like a choice,” last week he upped the ante rhetorically during an appearance on Alex Jones’ InfoWars, saying “there are a lot of things I love about Hitler.”
In case his intention wasn’t clear, West made an appearance on the right-wing platform Censored.TV with Gavin McInnes, the founder of the white nationalist group Proud Boys, according to Rolling Stone, during which West implored the Jewish people to “forgive Hitler ”.
“Regardless of his contributions prior to receiving this award, it is harmful to allow Ye, as he is currently known, to continue to use the School of the Art Institute of Chicago to help legitimize hatred and violence,” the petition reads. “This harm affects artists, designers and scholars affiliated with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and its values of justice, compassion and free speech without hate.”