Let's just call Kanye West what he is. A bully.

Listen to this story being read by Adrienne Tam, here.

Here's how a story about Kanye "Ye" West inevitably unfolds: 

1. West does something shocking.

2. There is outrage at the shocking thing West has done.

3. West retaliates on social media against those who oppose him.

4. Now people are outraged at how West has responded to the outrage.

5. West deletes his posts from his social media or backtracks on his stance or writes/says something completely contradictory to his initial claim.

6. West gets off scot-free.

7. Rinse, wash, repeat.

This cycle of gaslighting and bullying behaviour from the musician can be seen as far back as 13 years ago, when he stepped up to the 2009 MTV Video Awards stage and told Taylor Swift - in a line that has become part of the vernacular - "I'mma let you finish, but Beyonce had the best video of all time" to this week, where he and conservative political commentator Candace Owens wore "White Lives Matter" shirts at the prestigious Paris Fashion Week. Some of his models also wore "White Lives Matter" shirts as they paraded his clothing line down the catwalk.

It echoed the times he wore a Make America Great Again (MAGA) cap, and a jacket emblazoned with confederate imagery.

During his opening speech at his fashion show, West said, "I am Ye, and everyone knows I am the leader". Following his show, he wrote on Instagram, "Everyone knows that Black Lives Matter was a scam now it's over you're welcome."


West may be a bully, but he isn't an idiot. He knew exactly what he was doing. He baited, and watched in glee as people bit.

Some in the audience left, such as Jaden Smith, while others called out West's promotion of a slogan favoured by the Ku Klux Klan and other far-right extremist groups. Amongst them was Vogue fashion editor-at-large Gabriella Karefa-Johnson, who, in a series of posts on social media condemned what she was witnessing right before her eyes.


"The t-shirts this man conceived, produced and shared with the world are pure violence. There is no excuse, there is no art here," she wrote in her Instagram stories.

Bear in mind she was just one person out of the hundreds who would go on to tweet or post their dismay about West's show. British Vogue editor and reputedly the most powerful Black man in fashion media, Edward Enninful, called the stunt both inappropriate and insensitive.

Yet Karefa-Johnson was the one West decided to come for. He posted a picture of her on his Instagram feed, ridiculing her fashion sense with the caption, "This is not a fashion person. You speak on Ye, I'mma speak on you. Ask Trevor Noah." [West has been locked in a one-sided feud with Noah ever since the talk show host called out his behaviour].

In yet another post, he captioned a photo of Karefa-Johnson with, "I KNOOOOOW ANNA HAAAATES THESE BOOTS," referring to Vogue editor Anna Wintour, with whom the musician is friendly with. Wintour was at West's show too, but reportedly left early because she had another show to attend.

Several people came to Karefa-Johnson's defence, including model Gigi Hadid, who commented on one of West's posts with a few scathing words of her own: "You wish u had a percentage of her intellect. You have no idea haha... If there's actually a point to any of your sh*t she might be the only person that could save u. As if the 'honour' of being invited to your show should keep someone from giving their opinion...? Lol. You're a bully and a joke."

I mean. GO, GIGI.

Vogue magazine also defended Karefa-Johnson. 


"Vogue stands with Gabriella Karefa-Johnson, our global fashion editor at large and longtime contributor. She was personally targeted and bullied," the magazine's official statement read. "It is unacceptable. Now more than ever, voices like hers are needed and in a private meeting with Ye today she once again spoke her truth in a way she felt best, on her terms."

West deleted all his previous posts about the fashion editor - surprise, surprise - and described their meeting at length in a new post, which is below. For now. Because who knows if this post will also be deleted.


The fact that their meeting was apparently filmed by Baz Luhrmann at the request of Wintour speaks to how ridiculous this entire affair is - and just how out of touch people at Wintour's level are. 

And so, here we are again: Stage 6 of "This is how the story goes" - the part where West gets off scot-free. There will be rumblings for a little while longer and then... nothing.

No repercussions, no consequences. 

Rinse, wash, repeat.

Now, I am not going to downplay the role West's bipolar diagnosis plays in how the musician conducts himself. Bipolar disorder is a serious illness. But I will say this: We cannot keep excusing West's behaviour because of his diagnosis. We cannot keep wagging our figurative finger at him when he does something awful. There is real-world hurt due to his words and actions.

There has to be a line in the sand.

And in my opinion, we have reached that line.

It's possible that you could look at the feud with Swift, which has gone on for years, and let it go. It's Taylor Swift, after all - she's going to be just fine. She has more talent in her little finger than West will be ever know - yeah, that's right, I said it and I stand by it.

It's possible you could just laugh off his other "beefs" with other celebrities - be it Pete Davidson, Kim Kardashian, Kris Jenner, Lorde, Drake, Justin Timberlake, Amber Rose, Jimmy Kimmel, John Legend, 50 Cent and of course, Noah. You could look at all the headlines dedicated to these (mostly) one-sided feuds and just let it go. That's just Ye being Ye.


But this is different. This blatant disregard of the racism Black people experience harkens back to the time West said, "Slavery is a choice." That this was said by a Black man himself, someone so powerful, someone so revered in certain circles, someone whose platform matters, boggles the mind. Why this need to pander to the conservative crowd? Why this need to embolden racists? Why this need to be betray his fellow people of colour?

As a Chinese woman, I've seen this kind of internalised racism before. I've experienced it myself. It's a complicated, terrible feeling, compounded by both traditional and social media.

Some part of me thinks this is all a game to West. A way to just keep his name alive, because that's how narcissists thrive. And thrive he will. His extremely expensive shoes will still be bought. His clothes will still sell, yes, including those "White Lives Matter" shirts. His music will still be listened to. His "Sunday church sessions" will still be full. His 31 million Twitter followers and 18 million Instagram fans will still cling to every word he says.

"You can't manage me," West said in his speech at the Paris Fashion Week show. "This is an unmanageable situation."

But what is the true cost of this situation? Hate, fear-mongering, racism, violence... that's the price.

And you can be sure that West isn't the one who will pay.

Feature image: Getty/Instagram.