No Role Models: The Audacity of Lil Wayne

Earlier today I was watching a Nightline clip in which an interviewer was asking famed rapper, Lil Wayne, about his views on the Black Lives Matter movement.  Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr. hasn’t really been known for being “woke” but I was extremely shocked and disappointed to hear his responses to the questions, especially considering the influence he has on youth.  “I am a young, black, rich mother*cker…my life matter, especially to my b*tches.  I don’t feel connected to a damn thing that ain’t got nothin’ to do with me”, he said so arrogantly and apathetically.  It was disgusting and straight up coonery.  

The audacity of Lil Wayne and other Black public figures to disassociate themselves from or dismiss the plight in Black America just because they’ve “made it” is appalling and damaging to the progression of the movement.  I guess tax brackets, zip codes, and celebrity statuses have painted an illusion of immunity from injustice.  But in a world where skin color obviously matters, they are just another Black face, too…just the ones that shuck and jive.  So when they choose to ignore and deny the claims of brutality, racism, oppression, etc., they are in essence endorsing these behaviors and treatment. Moreover, it gives the impression to our young people that ignorance and coonery are okay and that they should seek validation from the world rather than in heritage, self-love, and self-worth.   And that makes it harder for those of us who are fighting for equality.

Here are my words to Lil Wayne and others who feel the need to express themselves the way he has: the world is watching, your fans are watching, and most importantly, youth are watching.  So before you fix your mouth to utter such ignorance as “All Lives Matter”, this doesn’t affect me, this doesn’t affect US, we brought this on ourselves, think about the message you’re sending to those who impose the injustice and those who are impacted by the injustice.  Because before the world knew your stage name, you could have been Alton Sterling…and you could still be.

United we stand.  Divided we fall.

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Tanesha Peeples

South Side community leader Tanesha Peeples is a Chicago Public Schools alumna and proud Englewoodian. She currently serves on the board of the Montessori School of Englewood. Formerly, she served the Deputy Director of Outreach for Education Post, for whom she penned the long-running column Hope and Outrage. As an undergraduate student at Northern Illinois University, Tanesha began to develop a passion for and understand the importance of public service. After obtaining her bachelor’s degree in political science and public administration, she returned to Chicago with a new perspective on community, politics and civic engagement. Tanesha then attended and graduated from DePaul University with a master’s degree in public service management and urban planning and development. Throughout her professional career, Tanesha has used her education, passion and experience to navigate a number of nonprofit, political and independent ventures, advancing her mission to educate and empower marginalized populations. Prior to joining Education Post, she also managed her own consulting firm specializing in community relations. Tanesha’s vision is one where everyone—regardless of ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender or zip code—can have access to a comfortable quality of life and enjoy the freedoms and liberties promised to all Americans. Find her on Twitter at @PeeplesChoice85.