By: Destiny Jenesis
At the beginning of November, rapper Lil Wayne had an interview with ABC Nightline reporter Linsey Davis in which some controversial statements were made. When Davis asked what Wayne thought the Black Lives Matter movement was about, the rapper responded saying “it’s somebody got shot by the police for a f****d up reason.”
The interview looked promising before he went on a tangent saying, “I am a young, black, rich motherf****r; if that don’t let you know that America understand black motherf*****s matter these days, then I don’t know what is. My life matter”. Davis then asked Wayne if he connected to the movement as a black man, he continued to reassurance her that it “ain’t got nothin’ to do with me”
Lil Wayne isn’t the only celebrity with this skewed perception that racism has somehow faded out over the years. In the public eye, artists and entertainers such as Stacey Dash and Kanye West share this ideology that America has transcended beyond race. Dash, who opposes Black History month because there is no White history month believes that the malady of racism in Hollywood can be remedied by eliminating Black Hollywood.
“[Racism is] something that was used to hold people back in the past,” said Kanye West in a 2015 interview with CliqueTV. “But now, it’s like it’s played out like a style from the 1800s or something.” Is it really “played out” Mr. West? In the era where movements such as Black Lives Matter and Standing Rock are relevant, I think not.
To make matters worse, characters such as Dash, Kanye West, and renowned surgeon, Dr. Ben Carson openly express their support for President elect Donald Trump who is currently notorious for his racially charged and misogynistic rhetoric. Yes, Donald Trump, who paid for full page ads to incriminate the wrongfully imprisoned Black and Latino youth in the 1989 Central Park Five case.
Dash and renowned surgeon, Dr. Ben Carson openly express their support for President-elect Donald Trump who is currently notorious for his racially charged and misogynistic rhetoric. Yes, Donald Trump, who paid for full-page ads to incriminate the wrongfully imprisoned Black and Latino youth in the 1989 Central Park Five case.
Dr. Joy DeGruy Leary, a nationally renowned educator, provides an accurate explanation for these perceptions in her book Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome: America’s Legacy of Enduring Injury and Healing. Degruy proposes that African Americans today are suffering from deep-rooted consequences of slavery in the form of a mental health condition which she coins as Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome. She defines this as “a condition that exists when a population has experienced multigenerational trauma resulting from centuries of slavery and continues to experience oppression and institutionalized racism today”.
“Many African Americans have adopted white standards, especially those of material success, some of those who have reached the highest levels of American society,” Degury states. “Like many of their white peers, seem to believe that slavery ended in 1865 and everything’s been fine since.”
This theory directly relates to Wayne and the aforementioned celebrities perception of themselves in relation to racism as a social construct. They claim that racism is obsolete, or as Kanye puts it, “played out”. What Wayne and many others seem to believe is that once they achieve the highest point of economic success is what separates them from the “old” and “new” versions of themselves.
The “old” Wayne expressed disdain for the inequalities and oppression that people of color faced. In his 2015 song, “My Heart Races On” he addresses police brutality as an effect of racism. An excerpt from the song reads:
Oh Lord, what are we runnin from?
The police cause they already killed enough of us
Stay out them streets cause they don’t f**k with us, they huntin us
We in a race against racists, that’s a color run
Clearly, the Lil Wayne in this song acknowledges that racism not only exists but that it affects people of color in a negative way. Wayne needs to get reacquainted with himself so that he can wake up.