Hip Hop star Lil Wayne rarely gives interviews, let alone expresses views on politics. So to discover his most recent remarks on the Black Lives Matter movement were simultaneously shocking, baffling and inflammatory.
During an interview with ABC News’ “Nightline,” The “Lollipop” rapper made the following statements about the latest movement that seeks to bring societal injustices, police brutality and racism to light this millennium:
“What is it? What do you mean?” he asked before launching into a slightly incoherent rant. “It just sounds weird. I don’t know that you put a name on…it’s not a name; it’s not ‘whatever, whatever.’ It’s somebody got shot by a policeman for a f—-d up reason. I’m a young, Black motherf—-r. If that don’t let you know that America understands that Black motherf—–s matter these days, I don’t know what is. That white man; he filming me. I’m a n—a. I don’t know what you mean, man. Don’t come at me with that dumb sh–t, ma’am. My life matters. My life matters, especially to my b—-es.”
“Nightline’s” Linsey Davis then followed up by asking Weezy if he felt any connection to the movement, an answer that appears to be obvious given his previous sentiments on the matter.
“I don’t feel connected to a damn thing that ain’t got nothing to do with me. If you do you crazy as s***.”
Weezy isn’t the first to criticize the Black Lives Matter movement. The faction has often been accused of having no clear focus or leadership, and some have even charged it with having a separate agenda that goes beyond securing equal rights for African-Americans.
Last month, Singer and former Chairwoman of the Black Panther Party, Elaine Brown, made the following remarks when asked about the Black Lives Matter movement:
“There is no comparison,” Brown said during an interview with Spiked. “The next wave of young people running out here, who are complaining and protesting about the murders of young Black men and women by the police all over the country, they will protest but they will not rise up in an organized fashion, with and agenda, to create revolutionary change.”
“[The Black Panther Party] advocated community self-defense organizations to be formed, so that we would not be assaulted by the police, so that we would bear arms and assume our human rights,” Brown continued. “This to me is a plantation mentality. It smacks of ‘master, if you would just treat me right.’ And it has nothing to do with self-determination, empowerment and a sense of justice, or anything else.”
So why are folks up in arms with Weezy expressing his opinion? Is there ever a valid time or reason to criticize a social justice movement that claims to advance people of color?
Many people have problems with Weezy’s remarks because it appears the star is refusing to see that racism, discrimination and white privilege does in fact exist. Here we have a man who does not appear to have contributed to the advancement of people of color—other than make a song about Hurricane Katrina—denouncing a very real, very visceral reality that millions of Black people deal with every single day. Here’s a man who has previously said that he “does not see racism” because he has “white fans.” Here’s a man who is appearing to separate himself from an entire group of Black people pushing and advocating for change.
And that is very problematic.
What makes Ms. Brown’s criticism different from that of Lil Wayne’s about Black Lives Matter is that she has put in the work, and is criticizing the movement from a foundational and organizational standpoint. She has poured her blood, sweat and tears into advocating for the equal rights of African-Americans, and has literally placed her life on the line for it. Arguably, Ms. Brown has contributed to paving the way for movements like Black Lives Matter to exist, function and succeed.
This piece is not meant to take away from Lil Wayne’s right to feel how he feels. Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. But this type of ignorance is why I fear that we will forever be held captive in the chains of white oppression and privilege. In many ways, Lil Wayne’s flawed logic is worse than any Klansman, because he is simply blind to the systematic, institutional and individual racism that we, and he lives everyday.
Shantell E. Jamison is a digital editor for EBONY.com and JETMAG.com. Her book, “Drive Yourself in the Right Direction” is available on Amazon. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter @Shantell_em and Instagram @Shantell_em.