Disabilities Group Takes Issue With Kanye West

The group’s president and CEO is calling out the rapper after he singled out two people with disabilities who didn’t stand during one of his recent concerts.

Kanye West should have shown more sensitivity at a recent concert in Sydney, Australia, according to the head of the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD).

During the recent concert, the rapper asked everyone in the audience to stand up, and then stopped the show when he noticed two individuals were not standing.

“I can’t do this song. I can’t do the rest of the show until everybody stands up,” West reportedly said. “Is he in a wheelchair? OK, well, we gotta wait then.”

Turns out those people were disabled, and at least one was in a wheelchair.

“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,” AAPD President and CEO Mark Perriello wrote in 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.”

This isn’t the first time West has sparked controversy with an advocacy organization. Last year two Parkinson’s groups took issue with the artist for making light of one of the symptoms of the disease in his album, Yeezus. West’s lyrics referenced making a woman shake as if she had Parkinson’s.

While “hurtful,” the lyrics did provide an opportunity to educate the public about Parkinson’s, Leslie Chambers, president and CEO of the American Parkinson Disease Association, said at the time. The concert incident in Sydney is providing a similar opportunity.

“Kanye’s actions should come as no surprise because the world of disabilities remains largely hidden from the mainstream,” Perriello said. “Due to this, most Americans don’t think to consider the quality of life for individuals with disabilities in America.”

Perriello pointed out that one out of every 100 people in the world uses a wheelchair, yet many of these individuals remain unseen and on the “sidelines”  despite advances in accessibility.

“My hope is that Kanye, everyone who attended his concert, and anyone paying attention to this story in the media, learned a little bit more about what it means to be a person with a disability in the modern age and uses their voice to help people with disabilities get off the sideline,” Perriello said.

(Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

Katie Bascuas

By Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. MORE

Got an article tip for us? Contact us and let us know!