Our Voices: Rapper hurt himself and his heritage

Let me join the chorus of people who find rap superstar Lil Wayne’s lyrics demeaning, ignorant and otherworldly stupid.

In case you didn’t know, Lil Wayne (not mentioning his real name because who cares?) authored lyrics in a song called “Karate Chop” that were off-the-Richter-scale awful in reference to murdered child Emmitt Till and his family. Till was a teenager beaten beyond recognition, tortured and killed in 1955 Mississippi because he allegedly whistled at a white woman.

So Lil Wayne, needing just the right lyric for the song, penned this poetic line: “Beat that p---- up like Emmett Till.” Wow, a lyrical genius.

Did Lil Wayne ever see the photo of Till’s face, an image so unbelievably gruesome that it turned the collective stomach of the nation and brought into focus the South’s inhumanity to African-Americans?

Here’s a better description of what happened to Till. He was beaten, his eyes gouged out and then he was shot in the head, his body lashed to a cotton gin with barbed wire and tossed it into a river.

If Lil Wayne had seen the photo that showed the aftermath of that, then the idea of writing those lyrics is mindboggling. If he hadn’t seen it, what else has Lil Wayne missed in his 30 years?

His hustle-for-a-dime lyrics would be the equivalent of a Jewish lyricist writing, “The summer is so hot, like those ovens Hitler got.” But, that probably wouldn’t happen.

Here’s something else. Had a white singer repeated Lil Wayne’s vile lyrics the intensity of the backlash from the black community would have been on national news.

I have talked to a number of people who never heard of the controversy and others who just shrug their shoulders and say, “Oh, that’s those rappers, they will say anything to make money.” Maybe so, but they should be held to same standards others are by the African-American community.

We must be as quick and decisive in dealing with the Lil Waynes of the world as we are with African-American conservatives and Republicans.

Remember the brickbats that Republican Presidential hopeful Herman Cain took from African-American political leaders, comedians and others for his conservative bombast. He did deserve some criticism but we can’t spare the Lil Waynes because of their skin color.

Lil Wayne’s lyrics did cause him to lose endorsement money from PepsiCo, the parent company of Mountain Dew, who dropped him from an ad campaign. Some Lil Wayne supporters claimed the decision amounted to censorship.

This is not censorship. Lil Wayne and his ilk can continue to say whatever dumb stuff they want. This is America. But, the listeners also have the right to respond the way they choose.

Get this. Another rapper, Rick Ross, recently lost his gig with Reebok after he rapped about raping a woman who had been drugged.

Let’s hope Lil Wayne and others find a path to fortune by promoting self-loathing and disrespect for the African-American community that will be dealt with swiftly and decisively by that same African-American community.

The Rev. Al Sharpton said he hoped the matter will be a “teaching moment” for Lil Wayne and PepsiCo. I hope it’s a learning moment for all of the Lil Waynes in my community.

Ed Pratt is a former Advocate editor. He is assistant to the chancellor for media relations at Southern University. His email address is epratt1972@yahoo.com.