U.S. civil rights activist reverend Al Sharpton is leading a boycott against Kanye West, after the rapper declared he had “reclaimed” the Confederate flag from racists, and emblazoned the symbol on his tour merchandise.
The Stronger hitmaker decided to stamp the items for his current Yeezus tour with the controversial flag, which was adopted by the slave-owning southern U.S. states during the American Civil War.
After receiving negative responses for his fashion choice, the outspoken rapper defended his decision to wear the flag, stating, “I took the Confederate flag and made it my flag. It’s my flag now.”
But his actions have upset many African American leaders, including Sharpton, who is the head of the National Action Network (NAN) — one of the leading civil rights organisations in the U.S.
On Monday, Sharpton took aim at West during a press conference, slamming him for using a symbol which has deep ties to African-American oppression and slavery.
Sharpton stated, “The Confederate flag symbolises dehumanisation, injustice and pain. It is a stark reminder of an era in our history that was defined by the abhorrent practice of slavery. And it is representative of a mentality that looked upon blacks as inferiors who needed to remain in the shackles of subservience.”
Najee Ali, the political director of the Los Angeles NAN, explained the organisation’s boycott, and added, “Our organisation is determined to shut down that (clothing range) and any store that decides to sell this merchandise. For African-Americans, the Confederate flag is symbolic of the hurt and pain of slavery in the South and the legacy it has left for those still living under those ideologies.
“When Kanye embraces and adorns this Confederate flag, he also embraces the ignorance and racism that goes along with it.
“I challenge Kanye West to create a clothing line of merchandise featuring swastikas if he’s sincere about his beliefs. But we all know Kanye doesn’t have the courage to do that. The Jewish community would run him out of town if he did and so should the African American community.”