Famed and always controversial rapper Kanye West’s behavior at a recent concert in Australia has triggered condemnation from disability and other civil rights activists worldwide.
At the concert, Kanye West, prior to performing his hit “Good Life,” called for the audience to stand up. At this point, most performers would just begin their act, but Kanye, noticing that two people in the audience did not stand, refused to start. One of the persons was in a wheelchair.
“I can’t do this song, I can’t do the rest of the show until everybody stands up,” West announced, according to CBS News. “Is he in a wheelchair? OK well we gotta wait then. This is the longest I’ve had to wait to do a song, this is unbelievable.”
The audience booed and Kanye finally resumed performing, but not before adding, “If he’s in the wheelchair, then it’s fine, only if he’s in a wheelchair.”
The video quickly went viral and public outrage ensued. “Kanye West’s recent demand that every member of the audience stand up during his show in Sydney, Australia showed a fundamental lack of understanding about the world in which we live,” Mark Perriello, president of the American Association of People with Disabilities, wrote in a column for the Daily Beast.
“Kanye took it a step further by literally shining a light on two members of the audience who remained seated due to their disabilities…At this point, Kanye went from showing a lack of understanding to being downright offensive.
“However, Kanye’s actions should come as no surprise because the world of disabilities remains largely hidden from the mainstream. Due to this, most Americans don’t think to consider the quality of life for individuals with disabilities in America.”
“Kanye never asked anyone in a wheelchair to stand up and the audience videos show that,” she said, although the video clearly shows Kanye delaying the concert for nearly three minutes.
The video of the incident can be seen here.