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The status of Ye's Donda Academy is unclear after uproar over his antisemitic remarks

Steven Smith and Kanye West speak on stage at the "Kanye West and Steven Smith in Conversation with Mark Wilson" on Nov. 7, 2019, in New York City.
Brad Barket
/
Getty Images for Fast Company
Steven Smith and Kanye West speak on stage at the "Kanye West and Steven Smith in Conversation with Mark Wilson" on Nov. 7, 2019, in New York City.

Uncertainty swirls over the status of Donda Academy, an unaccredited private school run by the rapper Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, who has faced a backlash — financial and otherwise — for his recent antisemitic remarks.

As reported by The Root and other news outlets, an email wassent to parents Thursday morning, saying the school was closing. But a separate email, signed by "Parents of Donda," indicated the school would not be shutting down, TMZ reported.

In the earlier email, the school expressed its "gratitude for the community of families and scholars that Donda Academy brought together." The email then went on to say that "at the direction of our Founder, Donda Academy will close for the remainder of the 2022-2023 school year effective immediately. Thursday, October 27th. THERE IS NO SCHOOL TOMORROW."

"We intend to begin afresh in September of 2023, and we are confident that our scholars will continue to advance as the creative innovators, courageous influencers and academic leaders of the next generation. Thank you for your support," the school said.

But the second email, reportedly from Donda parents, said: "With the help of our parents and community, we are back and returning with a vengeance!"

Donda Academy, named after Ye's late mother Donda West, is an unaccredited Christian private school where the cost to attend is $15,000 a year. Parents must sign a nondisclosure agreement to register their children as students. According to the academy's web site, the school promises a faith-based education with the promotion of Christian values alongside a "rigorous core curriculum," that includes math, science and language arts.

The announcement follows several weeks of backlash against Ye for his antisemitic comments made on social media and the podcast Drink Champs. A long list of business have publicly cut ties with the rapper, including:

Fashion and clothing

The shoe company Skechers said that Ye was escorted out of the company's Los Angeles office after showing up unannounced Wednesday. "Considering Ye was engaged in unauthorized filming, two Skechers executives escorted him and his party from the building after a brief conversation," Skechers said in a statement.

T.J. Maxx announced on Wednesday that it would be boycotting and pulling Yeezy merchandise from its stores. "At TJX we do not tolerate discrimination, harassment, or hate of any kind," the company said in a statement to CNN Business.

Adidas announced it would be end production of Yeezy branded products and stop all payments to Ye and his companies. Adidas will also immediately stop the Adidas Yeezy business. The sportswear maker said it "does not tolerate antisemitism and any other sort of hate speech" and said that his recent comments were "unacceptable, hateful and dangerous." Adidas said Ye violated the company's "values of diversity and inclusion, mutual respect and fairness."

Gap announced it was pulling the rapper's Yeezy Gap line of merchandise and has now shutdown YeezyGap.com. "Our former partner's recent remarks and behavior further underscore why we are taking immediate steps to remove Yeezy Gap product from our stores," the clothing retailer said in a statement Tuesday.

Foot Locker announced on Tuesday that it will continue a partnership with Adidas but will halt all sales of any products that Ye has been involved in making.

Balenciaga cut ties with the rapper nearly a week ago, saying it "no longer (has) any relationship nor any plans for future projects related to this artist." Kering, the parent company of the luxury fashion house, told the fashion publication Women's Wear Daily last week that it severed ties with the rapper.

Music

Ye's recording contract and label deal with Def Jam Recordings have ended, according to The New York Times. Although it is unknown whether Kanye's antisemitic statements have anything to do with the expired contract.

Apple Music noticeably removed its popular Kanye West Essentials playlist from its rotation, although other music of his can still be found there. NPR reached out to Apple Music for comment but has not heard a response.

MRC announced on Monday that it would not distribute a documentary on Ye following his comments, saying it could not "support any platform that amplifies his platform."

The Los Angeles Times reported that due to Ye's antisemitic tirade, CAA, one of Hollywood's most prominent and powerful talent agencies, is no longer representing him.

Sports

Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown said on Twitter that he's terminating his association with Donda Sports, Ye's sports agency. "I now recognize that there are times when my voice and my position can't coexist in spaces that don't correspond with my stance or my values," Brown said.

Aaron Donald, the star defensive player of the Los Angeles Rams, said he would also be parting ways with Donda Sports.

Peloton has put all of Ye's music on pause in its streaming workout classes due to his antisemitic comments. In a statement sent to PeloBuddy, a Peloton blog, Peloton said "Its instructors are no longer using his music in any newly produced classes and we are not suggesting any class that includes his music in our proactive recommendations to Members."

Podcasts and media

A recent episode of HBO's The Shop featuring Ye was scrapped after the Chicago rapper used the show to spew more antisemitic rhetoric. Maverick Carter, one of the creators of the show, said in a statement to Andscape, "Kanye was booked weeks ago and, after talking to Kanye directly the day before we taped, I believed he was capable of a respectful discussion and he was ready to address all his recent comments. Unfortunately, he used The Shop to reiterate more hate speech and extremely dangerous stereotypes."

Ye appeared on N.O.R.E and DJ EFN's popular podcast Drink Champs, where he continued to spew more hateful speech. During the interview, he even claimed that George Floyd died because of fentanyl, not because an officer had his knee on his neck. The episode was ultimately taken down because of Ye's behavior. Ye is facing a $250 million lawsuit from Floyd's family.

Forbes said on Tuesday that Ye had dropped from its list of billionaires. It estimated the Adidas deal accounted for $1.5 billion of his net worth, but Forbes now estimates it at a mere $400 million.

NPR has tried to reach Ye for a comment, but have not heard any response. Ye has been posting on Instagram, recently sharing a poem stating that "The money is not who I am, the people is who I am."

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Matt Adams
Matt Adams is an Audience Engagement Strategist at NPR, where he is always thinking of how a broadcast company can do more on the internet. His focus is on social media strategy and how to connect NPR with new audiences in creative ways, from community building to social audio.
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