In recent news, Grammy Award winning hip-hop artist Lil Wayne stated that in his entire life he has never experienced racism. Nope, not even once! Lil Wayne even went so far as to assert that racism is not significant factor in American society due to the white fans who attend his concerts.
Despite growing up in New Orleans, Lil Wayne maintains that,” I have never witnessed racism.” What is particularly dangerous, is that Lil Wayne’s post-racial discourse is being utilized to delegitimize the black lives matter movement. Conservative media Mundit Stacey Dash asserted that,” His story went completely against the Black Lives Matter narrative of systemic racism .”In light of this situation, how would African-American Muslim activist Malcolm X respond to such claims by Lil Wayne?
Malcolm X was deeply cognizant of the white supremacist indoctrination against black men stating that,”the black man had been “brainwashed for hundreds of years.” In an attempt to open his eyes, Malcolm X would drop knowledge on history to Lil Wayne about how the urban planning in Lil Wayne’s very city was rooted in racism.
The deeply charismatic Malcolm X would cite lyrics within Lil Wayne’s own songs that attest to the realities of racism. In one such lyrics, Lil Wayne states, “Stuck in the hood like they put cement on us,” which is a reality: the planning of New Orleans was structured firmly upon a racist ideology that intended to segregate blacks into impoverished social conditions.
Malcolm X would further explain how in 1937, a racial caste system would be enforced by the New Orleans Housing Authority who explicitly established segregated housing for blacks, intentionally putting them in areas most susceptible to flooding. Blacks were continuously segregated and their lives were treated as though they were worthless; in the sixties, chemical plants were constructed near black neighborhoods. This would work to ensure that toxic pollution contaminated the air that blacks had no choice but to breathe in.
While most people seek to explain how racial injustices are merely a “thing of the past”,Malcolm X would explain how how they have a direct bearing on the conditions of black people today. Brother Malcolm would perhaps examine how Lil wayne refers to his New-Orleans neighborhood as “chopper-city”. As an individual fond of linguistics, Malcolm x would examine the etymological origins of Chopper City are due to one fundamental reality: an AK-47 is needed for survival in these war zones. In Chopper City, there are excruciatingly high levels of poverty, the drug economy is dominant, and street violence is omnipresence. City planners do not devote nearly as much time to the well-being of Chopper City as they do tourist attractions; while driving through streets riddled with potholes, choppers can be heard blasting.
Malcolm X would analyze Lil wayne’s rap line,” “The presidential double R, call that Ronald Reagan.” He would perhaps explain that although Lil Wayne is able to enjoy cruising in a Rolls Royce due to the hip hop industry, Reagonomics trickled down and devastated the black community at large. Social services were drastically cut, and the tax code was constructed to favor the wealthy. In the eighties, due to Reagan, the dreaded figure of the “black criminal” emerged within political advertisements. White politicians would chastise black youth as criminals, drug dealers, and rapists and call for ‘law and order’ in order to protect the good, white citizenry.
Malcolm X would explain how under Reaganomics, the wealth never actually did trickle down; instead, as jobs moved out of the inner-city, New Orleans began cutting back on social services. There would be little opportunity for social mobility for black Americans. Police would routinely rob drug dealers for quick cash, and even plant drugs on innocent blacks and bring them up on false charges.Police brutality became the norm; black mothers living in housing projects feared their small children would be brutalized by police, thus, even when there was genuine problems in their housing projects, they were hesitant to call the police.
The police corruption within the city was so notorious that African-American Marc H. Morial became mayor by campaigning on the platform that he would overhaul the entire department. But, even as a black mayor, the city planning, institutions, and all other facets of New Orleans had been set up to discriminate and oppress African-Americans.
In fact, Lil Wayne’s statement that,”Times is hard as it is that’s why I got guns and my guns got kids,” echoes observations of Malcolm X when he stated,”” In the ghettoes the white man has built for us, he has forced us not to aspire to greater things, but to view everyday living as survival.” Within New Orleans, after the end of de’jure racial discrimination whites began settling in Slidell and other suburbs, the local black population would still be in segregated public housing. Malcolm X statement that,”When you (black people) tried to integrate the white community in search of better housing, the whites there fled to the suburbs,” was a reality in New Orleans.
Brother Malcolm X would take the time to open Lil Wayne’s eyes to the realities of structural racism in America. Years of discriminatory public housing, years of disenfranchisement, and police repression would concentrate both anti-social behavior and poverty in the black community, and this would be showcased during Hurricane Katrina with helpless blacks drowning in water or stranded on top of roofs begging for help. Lil Wayne growing up in HollyGrove one of the most improvement neighborhoods was not an accident. Racist urban planning worked to confine black people into impoverished neighborhoods.
Finally, I believe that Malcolm X would tell Lil Wayne that it is great that through hip-hop he was able to become wealthy and make it out the hood. However, he would explain Lil wayne still has an obligation to his people and a duty not to mitigate the systemic plight of black people by insinuating that racism is just a sad thing of the past. Structural Racism not only impacts Lil wayne despite the fact that he is oblivious to it, but it continues to hinder lives of everyday black people.