Since the Civil Rights movement, racial conflict has not been as dominant in our media and central to our country’s focus.
At 26, Dr. Martin Luther King became the voice for the African Americans — a community that desired to be treated with respect, dignity and equality. He achieved great things through unity and cooperation from the African American community.
One example is the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which resulted in the U.S Supreme Court ruling that racial segregation on public transportation was unconstitutional. This was largely achieved by the black community rallying together to boycott the bus system, which costed the state of Alabama to lose money.
During the Civil Rights Movement, there were atrocities exposed through the media, but not with the speed and reach that we have in this era. Every day, people record videos to expose the modern day police brutality and blatant abuse of power, in which some videos have gone viral in moments. This is all very reminiscent of the brutality that those involved in the civil rights movement received in the past. Yet, somehow people are still willing to claim that racism is dead.
One hip-hop icon recently made this bold statement. Lil Wayne has a massive influence on the youth of America as his music and identity represents today’s black culture.
Lil Wayne recently stated in an interview on Undisputed that the racial makeup of the crowd at one of his shows was “clearly a message that there was no such thing as racism.”
He seemed to realize that this statement would cause some backlash going on to say, “I don’t want to be bashed, because I don’t want to seem like I’m on the wrong side,” Lil Wayne responded. “But I thought that was clearly a message that there was no such thing as racism.”
This came as a shock to not only a large portion of his fans, but overall to the hip hop community. Kendrick Lamar was not impressed by Lil Wayne’s dismissive statements, especially during a time that collective solidarity is needed to change the status quo.
Although, last year, he released music addressing the issues regarding movements like Black Lives Matter. On his Free Weezy Album, the song My Heart Races On affirms,
Oh Lord, what are we running from?
The police cause they already killed enough of us
Stay out them streets cause they don’t fuck with us, they huntin us
We in a race against racists, that’s a color run
Those lyrics acknowledge that racism is alive and well. 10 years ago, the New Orleans native gave his thoughts about the atrocious lack of responsibility from the government to care for the African American community after Hurricane Katrina.
Then they telling y’all lies on the news
The white people smiling like everything cool
But I know people that died in that pool
I know people that died in them schools
They tell you what they want, show you what they want you to see
But they don’t let you know what’s really going on
Make it look like a lotta stealing going on
Boy them cops is killas in my home
Nigga shot dead in the middle of the street
Lil Wayne acknowledges that he has been blessed for some time now. He no longer deals with class bias. He has been swaddled by his fame that this confusion between his roots and current lifestyle seems to have him confused.
His failed attempt at a rock record could be attributed to this as well. His attempt at making sense of a genre that has lost its roots and now predominantly white seemed like a cry for acceptance, or maybe the result of too much time in the studio with his bottles of lean.
Somewhat later in that Undisputed interview, he attempts to acknowledge that racism does in fact exist after acknowledging his current privilege.
… God knows I have been nothing but blessed my whole path. These 33 years have been nothing but a blessing. I have never—never is a strong word—never dealt with racism and I’m glad I didn’t have to. And I don’t know if it’s because of my blessings, I don’t know, but it is my reality.
So I have to say I thought it was over, I still believe it’s over. But obviously it isn’t, he added.
He is correct without a doubt. A 2011 study done by the Department of Justice (DOJ) found that in New Orleans (Lil Wayne’s hometown), 98.6% of all children arrested for “serious offenses” were black children. Since then, it has gotten worse. In the first few months of 2015, 99% of children arrested for any offense were black children.
Wayne continues saying,
When you come to a person like me, my answer is always the same. My politics, my flag, my country, my nation, my world, all of that is Reginae, Cameron, Neal, and his brother Tony. That’s it… That’s all that matters, those four kids to me.
Considering those aforementioned statistics, there is no denying that racism is still very real. In addition, systemic racism has created a platform for racism to continue fairly unchallenged until now.
Lil Wayne, if you have your children’s best interests, then being knowledgeable about the incidents affecting African Americans are an important step in securing their safety and well-being. A child like Tamir Rice was never given a chance to even say, “Stop, it’s a toy!” before he was shot down without question.
Several musicians are using their platform to make a difference, including Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, and Chuck D of Public Enemy. Now is not the time to be complacent, but instead the time for positive change. Will you be part of the solution or the problem?
This article originally appeared on Earthlingsentertainment.com