In case you missed it, a video clip of rapper, Lil Wayne, doing a very recent Nightline interview with ABC News correspondent, Linsey Davis, has been making the rounds. The lead-in to the segment lists Wayne’s musical accomplishment as one of the most successful rappers of all time; even eclipsing Elvis Presley for more appearances on the Billboard 100 Chart. With that kind of cultural impact and platform in mind, Davis decided to pick what’s left of Lil Wayne’s brain, and ask him about social justice issues and his proximity to them.
Specifically, Nightline wanted to know his thoughts on the Black Lives Matter movement. Furrowing his face in confusion, a seemingly disjointed Lil Wayne asked “What is it? What—what do you mean?”
When Linsey Davis (bless her heart) attempted to explain the movement and its reason for existing— (Oh, hi white supremacy, state violence, and systemic racism), Lil Wayne said he found the mere concept of Black lives mattering “weird.”
“It’s not a name or it’s not whatever, whatever. It’s somebody got shot by a policeman for a f*cked up reason.”
That statement isn’t even the most misguided part of Lil Wayne’s statement and seeming state of confusion. He further mumbled,
“I am a young, Black rich motherf*cker. If that don’t let you know that America understand Black mother f*ckers matter these days, I don’t know what it is,” He said, throwing up his hands.
“That [cameraman] white; he filmin’ me. I’m a nigga. I don’t know what you mean, man. Don’t come at me with that dumb [indecipherable bleeped expletive], ma’am,” continued; highly agitated.
“My life matter. Especially to my bitches.”
Unperturbed (and perhaps Lololing and smdh on the inside), Linsey Davis attempted to give space for Lil Wayne to redeem himself (like Oprah offered to Raven-Symoné that time), asking him if he felt any sense of connection to the systemic issues Black people have been besieged by.
“I don’t feel connected to a damn thing that ain’t got nothin’ to do with me. If you do, you crazy as sh*t,” he insisted. “You. Not the camera, you.” He said, jabbing his finger at Davis.
“Feeling connected to something that ain’t got nothin’ to do with you? If it ain’t got nothin’ to do with me, I ain’t connected to it,” Wayne continued, before pulling out a red scarf to pledge his allegiance to a gang and referring to himself as a gang-banger, then storming out angrily on the interview–(Bummer. He was much more affable and forthcoming with Katie Couric.)
And just like that, conservative and alt-right Deplorables convened on Twitter, like raccoons on a trash heap, to virtually high-five their new Coon-Cricket Supreme.
But alas, despite lending lyrics to Solange Knowles’s very, very socially conscious album A Seat at The Table, on the song “Mad” and encouraging the audience to chant “Black Lives Matter!” at his Weezyana Fest this past August, Lil Wayne’s views on racism is par for the course. I mean, one can’t expect any particularly compelling commentary or food for thought from someone who champions colorism and upholds white supremacist capitalist patriarchy.
Lil Wayne’s willfully (n)ignorant view of how racism functions and does impact his black ass life (contrary to what he believes), on anti-Blackness, on social justice, and on the institutional violence that precipitated the need for movements like Black Lives Matter, is shared by many Black celebrities, unfortunately; especially rappers and athletes, conservatives, and religious leaders who are ill-equipped to discuss the issues impacting the Black community but choose to anyway, and seem to relish adopting the tone-deafness of the white folks who sign their checks, validate their self-loathing, and have made them rich.
And nothing illustrates this more than the Black athletes who made it a point to publicly rebuke Colin Kaepernick’s silent protest and refusal to stand for the National Anthem, and those Black pastors who have opted to All Lives Matter their way through discussions instead of using their clout to address these issues with their congregation or work in-tandem with community activists.
Some Black folks seem to think that being let into the country club, moving into a posh neighborhood without incident, and being everyone’s favorite entertainer or athlete (if they stfu and don’t rock the proverbial boat), that racism suddenly ceases to exist (for them). They start believing in bullshit false equivalencies like “reverse racism” and “color-blindness” totally disregarding history or how power dynamics work.
Black rappers and athletes think shouting out their favorite racially ambiguous stripper in a song, having the biracial child of their dreams, or using their nouveau riches to accumulate white groupies cum WAGS, then spending millions of dollars on a gilded cage to be blissfully (n)ignorant in, somehow heals decades of institutional racism.
At this point, I think mass media only asks these folks about racism and Black Lives Matter because they know they’ll get a mealy-mouthed response that shills for white supremacy because, money.
I mean, what other reason could there be? Interviewing Black notables who can unpack this shit with nuance, who’d challenge the status quo and would rock ignoramuses to their core would require some folks (media included) to be accountable for their own biases. I mean, conservative media pundits are still trying get Beyoncé cancelled, to no avail. And all she did was release “Formation”, pay tribute to Black activists at Super Bowl 50, and show Black womanhood in its splendor with the release of Lemonade.
The Lil Waynes, the RZAs, the Jerry Rices, the Cam Newtons, et al. have shown no indication that they care or are willing to challenge the racism they’ve internalized or that they’re even aware of what’s going on outside of their own stupidity and sanctimoniousness. And that disconnect and brand of idiocy make media fap with glee.
On the other hand, perhaps Black journalists pick the brains of celebs, like Lil Wayne, about civil rights issues because they’re hoping to challenge them to think critically beyond the confines of the fame they’ve grown accustomed to and receive salient commentary from someone who may know what it’s like to come of age in a disenfranchised neighborhood, where the relationship with law enforcement and communities of color is tenuous.
Lil Wayne did offer a tepid apology following his bizarre comments, and blamed it on Linsey Davis questioning him about his propensity for calling women bitches and hoes and how it affects his daughter… Mmkay… That’s a whole other related can of worms—Hello, misogynoir.
Though we’ve grown to expect this kind of asininity from the cult of personality, and I get that some celebrities’ raison d’etre is to do what they love and get money without having to get political, it’s still somewhat jarring to hear pop-culture’s faves use their platforms precariously and awkwardly demonstrate how little they know about how anti-racism activism and systemic racism work; particularly since (for some Black entertainers) their money and fame doesn’t pluck them that far away from their prior struggles. Just ask Dr. Dre and Chris Brown.