By Coshandra Dillard
There’s a couple of good things you could say about Lil Wayne: he’s a talented rapper and he’s not afraid to escape society’s ideals of what it means to be a black man. With a love of skateboarding and showing affection for another man (remember the infamous kiss with Birdman?) he definitely falls outside of the box.
With that being said, judging by his comments about race in America, I can’t help but think the brother needs help.
Lil Wayne forced Twitter into a fit over the last 24 hours due to a cringe-worthy interview on ABC’s “Nightline.”
Reiterating an idea he expressed while on ESPN’s “Undisputed,” he told the reporter, Linsey Davis, that his fame and wealth was evidence that black lives really do matter in this country.
“I don’t feel connected to a damn thing that ain’t got nothin’ to do with me,” he said about the Black Lives Movement, created on social media in 2012 after George Zimmerman was acquitted in Trayvon Martin’s death.
He later added, “I’m a young, black, rich motherf—er. If that don’t let you know that America understand black f—in’ lives matter these days, I don’t know what it is.”
To add insult to injury, he gave a so-called apology Wednesday, saying his rant about Black Lives Matter was triggered by the reporter’s questions.
Davis asked a fair question–whether he’d be upset by someone degrading his daughter, much like he does women in some of his misogynistic lyrics. This is the same man who had the nerve to disrespect the memory of slain teenager Emmett Till by using his name in a crass sexually explicit lyric.
“When the reporter began asking me questions about my daughter being labeled a bitch and a hoe, I got agitated,” he told TMZ. “From there, there was no thought put into her questions and my responses.”
He added, “Apologies to anyone who was offended.”
As an artist, if you put the art out there, you have to own up to it and not be surprised by a critique. But that’s the least startling thing about his newest gaffe.
Lil Wayne implies that black people as a whole no longer have to struggle when white audiences embrace one of us. Not only is it incorrect, but it is also selfish thinking. Of course, money does afford some people advantages the rest of us don’t have, but there are plenty of black celebrities that have been thrown away when his or her fame wanes or they speak out against racism.
Furthermore, just because one black person succeeds or makes it out of the hood, it doesn’t mean everyone will follow. While there are talents, abilities, and excellence found in every black community, sometimes a lack in opportunities or discriminatory policies can in fact hinder that.
In other words, instead of talking about how you make it and everyone else should too, it’s imperative for people to reach back and help the next person–not dismiss their struggle because you no longer (or never have) experienced it.
I realize black people are not a monolith. We don’t think the same on every issue. But one thing we come together on (or should) is the fight against racism, inequality and injustice. Having a black person not even acknowledge these centuries-long issues is a slap in the face to us all.
But I must say we can’t take celebrities who don’t make a habit of bringing societal ills to light so seriously. Let’s not make anyone a hero because, as a human, they’ll disappoint you every time.