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Kanye West accused of racism and antisemitism in new lawsuit

Kanye West has gone from being one of the entertainment world's most bankable stars to one of its most controversial figures
Kanye West has gone from being one of the entertainment world's most bankable stars to one of its most controversial figures - Copyright AFP/File Pascal GUYOT
Kanye West has gone from being one of the entertainment world's most bankable stars to one of its most controversial figures - Copyright AFP/File Pascal GUYOT

Controversial rapper Kanye West repeatedly yelled at Black employees and praised Adolf Hitler as an “innovator” according to a new lawsuit filed in California on Tuesday.

The creative brains behind the Yeezy designer brand, whose music and fashion ventures have made him fabulously wealthy, has repeatedly courted controversy in recent years with racist or antisemitic language and some odd historical revisionism.

Now a former employee is claiming the author of the hit “Stronger” told schoolchildren he was being persecuted by Jewish people.

Trevor Phillips, who like West is Black and worked for two of West’s ventures for nearly a year, claims in a Los Angeles lawsuit that he suffered severe discrimination, harassment and retaliation from West, who is also known as Ye. 

Phillips said West would never “berate a white person, but on countless occasions he saw and/or personally experienced Kanye frenziedly yell at Black people.”

Phillips was hired in November 2022 by Yeezy, the rapper’s clothing brand, and immediately began working at the Donda Academy, a school West founded outside Los Angeles.

“Phillips, on several occasions, witnessed Kanye preach to his staff obscenities such as ‘the Jews are out to get me’ and ‘the Jews are stealing all my money’,” the suit says.

Clothing giants GAP and Adidas parted ways with West after previous antisemitic remarks.

The suit also claims that West praised Hitler, calling the Nazi leader “great” at a dinner at an upmarket restaurant in Los Angeles.

“Hitler was an innovator. He invented so many things. He’s the reason we have cars,” the suit alleges West to have said.

A number of people are credited with the development of the car, including Karl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler, but the Austrian-born dictator was not one of them.

In the suit Phillips also alleges that the rapper once told two children at the Donda Academy to shave their heads and threatened to lock them in cages.

“Kanye also told the employees… that no staff could be fat -– otherwise he would fire them.”

Phillips, who stopped working for West’s ventures in August 2023, is seeking $35,000 in compensation.

His lawyer, Carney R. Shegerian, said the suit was aimed at righting the wrongs his client had suffered and sending a broader message.

“We hope… that the famous artist Mr West will understand that his messages, which we allege preach discrimination, anti-Semitism and love for Hitler, have no place in the world.”

West, who split from celebrity entrepreneur Kim Kardashian in 2022 after a decade together, apologized to Jewish people on social media last year over previous antisemitic outbursts.

The rapper has spoken openly about his struggles with mental health, and Kardashian has called for understanding as he works through issues.

AFP
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With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

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