by Dr. Boyce Watkins
(YourBlackWorld.com)–The rapper Lil Wayne, the man who probably disappoints me more than any hip-hop artist on the planet, took the time to tweet his thoughts on the recent “not guilty” verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman.
Even Wayne felt compelled to look out into the world to express his concerns about the case, sending this tweet:
“Tampa was amazing but kame bak to my bus and saw da news…ain’t s**t change, and I may never get to see it do so. I pray 4my kids & yours,” he said.
The tweet is a nice gesture of support by the artist who doesn’t seem to care about anyone other than himself. But it’s hard to accept the sincerity of Wayne’s message, given that he didn’t show the courtesy of apologizing to the family of Emmett Till after writing a song comparing Till’s beaten face to a woman’s v@gina. If he felt that way about Emmett Till, I don’t have reason to assume that he would feel any differently about Travyon Martin or the thousands of other Black male Lil Wayne fans who’ve died since Trayvon’s case began.
Wayne did eventually apologize, but only after being coerced by his former corporate overseer, Pepsico. I was happy that this relationship ended, and proud that the collective outrage from the black community and Your Black World readers led Wayne to experience direct financial consequences for his behavior. I hope this lets him know that Black people are more committed than ever to fighting enemies of the community, even if they happen to be Black.
I feel badly for Lil Wayne in certain ways. The man is as brilliant as the sun is bright (none of us could match his lyrical ability, that’s why he sells millions of records, we must give him that), but he has been trained by the world to use his power for evil rather than good. I’ve often compared him to what Malcolm Little was before he met the Honorable Elijah Muhammad.
What Wayne has to understand is that you can’t tweet sympathies to Trayvon and his family while simultaneously disrespecting the memory of Emmett Till. Emmett Till was the original Trayvon Martin, and it is decades after Till’s death that we are reminded that young Black males are the most endangered species in America.
For all of the dead homies Wayne raps about and friends that are in prison, I hope he will realize that many of these men are, like Trayvon, stuck in a criminal justice system which is h*ell bent on Black male extermination. The reality is that we are never going to advance beyond this dismal period in black American history if influential men like Lil Wayne only use their powerful voices to teach young black men to kill one another and feed themselves to the prison industrial complex. Spitting regular messages glorifying murder, drug abuse and s*xual irresponsibility only darkens the futures of young black men, and Lil Wayne has signed on as a willing supporter of the black male death march that has poisoned too many souls in our community.
So Wayne, while I’m sure that the Martin family appreciates your gracious tweet, it is my greatest hope that you use this as an opportunity to reflect on how you can help our people move forward rather than putting the needs of your community in the back of the bus. Yes, you make money and yes, you have more babies’ mamas than the local hospital, but that doesn’t make you a man. It is standing up for the people you love that truly makes your life one worth living.
I’m not sure what Lil Wayne thinks of me, I assume he hates me more than his business partner Al Sharpton. But the truth is that it is actually because I love Wayne and respect his intelligence that I even waste time writing about what he has to say. Both Lil Wayne and hip-hop can be better than what they’ve become, and it’s time for Black men to get our a*sses off the psychological plantation.
Dr. Boyce Watkins is the author of the lecture series, “The 8 Principles of Black Male Empowerment.”