At What Point Do We Give Up on Our Problematic Faves?
As a Lil’ Wayne fan, I’m disappointed, and I’m allowed to be.
After his recently shared interview with ABC’s Nightline, where Wayne expressed that he doesn’t feel connected to the Black Lives Matter movement, a lot of Black people reacted on social media and I think we all can admit, it was painful to watch. Many Black folks responded with “stop asking Lil’ Wayne questions about important things” or “what did you expect” from an artist like him? Well I expected more, to be honest, and to count him out of the conversation just because his answers don’t align with the current conversation around uplifting the Black community doesn’t seem right to me.
One thing I’ve learned is that in our efforts to push the Movement, we don’t have people to spare – why are we so opposed to calling him, and entertainers like him, in? Why are we so ready to throw them out, rather than challenge them?
“This song right here, is dedicated to the President of the United States,” said Lil’ Wayne on Georgia Bush featured on the Dedication 2 in 2006, “Y’all might know him as George Bush, but where I’m from – the lost city of New Orleans – we call him this…” The sample of Ray Charles singing “Georgia” begins, “Bush” repeats Wayne and then the beat drops. The lyrics are heavy with contrasts between the White and Black reactions and realities in relation to Hurricane Katrina – you can’t tell me Wayne doesn’t understand racism, and Wayne doesn’t convince me either.
I recognize that was 10 years ago. In the time since then, Wayne has made more money, had 3 kids, gone to jail, has racked up in accumulated drug use, and suffered from seizures. He’s also in a legal battle with the man who was the closest thing to a father figure, it’s safe to say he’s had a lot going on. But I also don’t want that measurement of time and his life within that time to be the reason he shouldn’t be challenged.
In his Nightline interview, the rapper described something he learned while at Rikers, “I learned a lot about people,” he said, “you are all on the same level, you are all going through the same thing. Everybody wants to go home.”
The interview then shares clips of other comments recently made by Weezy around racism being non-existent because of his white fans, he has also said it doesn’t exist because a white cop saved his life when he was young.
So Wayne got some money and has become All Lives Matter-ish, and it’s safe to say he has forgotten about the little people – like me – his Black fans that related to his music because of the culture and communities it boasted, and the ones that got him to the level he’s at now. It’s easy to change your perspective once you change your income bracket.
To be fully transparent though, he did end the interview with Nightline terribly. He was obviously frustrated with questions around the Movement, saying “I ain’t no f-king politician” and he’s not, nor do I expect him to be. But if we’re keeping it 100, one of the reasons he’s not a politician is because of the oppressive systems he grew up in – the exact thing we’re fighting against.
Responding to this with “What do you expect from him” and “Don’t ask him questions on important issues”, to me, feels like the same logic used to keep Black people and POC oppressed in the first place.
Disqualifying us and our opinions because of who someone is doesn’t feel like the radical love we encourage. I still say we need to push our Black artists and entertainers to unlearn and get activated, because whether they feel the racism or not, the Movement is still going to fight for all Black lives – including theirs.
Photo: Wiki Commons