Lil Wayne, the flag and selective outrage


The Internets almost got me. I heard rumblings about Lil Wayne’s flag desecration earlier in the day and decided to pass on seeing what the hoopla was about. I dig political speech from both sides of the left-right spectrum. Some is ridiculous, some is profound. In the case of Lil Wayne, despite the uproar, I couldn’t bring myself to believe a man who so cavalierly rhymed about beating the pussy up like Emmett Till could or would make a profound statement by stepping on the American flag.

Turns out I was right.

The minute-plus clip in question appears to be behind the scenes footage of a video shoot for one of Wayne’s McDonald’s menu of songs. For those who haven’t seen it, the Hot Boy is rapping with an American flag in the background. The flag drops and Wayne is now backed by a group of young black children. It reminded me more of Trick Daddy’s “America” video than anything else. But I digress. When the flag drops, Wayne continues his verse and takes a few steps with the flag under his feet.

*cue up the outrage*

Check the clip in question here, lest I be accused of lacking objectivity:

If you can’t tell, I’m not outrage, offended or any derivative of the aforementioned. I didn’t get upset when I interviewed Brother Ali and asked him why he chose to pray over the flag on the cover of his Mourning in America, Dreaming in Color album. I thought his reasoning was pretty cool:

The Well Versed: I have to start with the cover of the new album that shows you praying on top of the American flag. Was that an idea you came up with?

Brother Ali: It was. This album is what it says it is….

I’ve seen people from completely different walks of life put their bodies and reputations on the line to defend each other. I’ve seen middle-aged school teachers go to jail for a Mexican family or an African American woman to stay in their home. I never saw that in my generation. They say it happened in the Civil Rights times, but I never saw it. I saw black people getting shot with water hoses. That’s the dreaming in color. If I’m willing to do the work and fight back, there are better opportunities out there.

There are people that got mad and said you’re not supposed to put the flag on the ground. The flag was already on the ground. I found it there and prayed on it. I’m also a Muslim and that’s my flag too. That’s part of the symbolism. If we’re going to make progress, we have to stop seeing things that divide us.

I don’t want to equate what Wayne didn’t do with what Brother Ali did. As a man with relatively few affiliations in life that I’m willing to get up in arms for, the reverence to a piece of cloth – especially in these times – perplexes me. It didn’t take long for Wayne’s video to go viral for two fundamental American values to spring up from their polluted roots: racism and violence. A quick look at the YouTube c-section:

Fuck you lil wayne. You degrating, direspectful, piece of fucking shit. You are a disgrace and deserve to be hanged.

Fucking scumbag. Lets trample HIM

Where does he earn all his money.America ?..God bless our service men and woman for giving this jungle bunny the right to do that

Ahhh there are so many things wrong with the video. All I can say is the ones that are utilizing the free services from the government are in the video cursing the government.

Murica. Fuck yeah!

Southern trees got strange fruit. This was my introduction to America. It seems that many are in love with the idea of what America is instead of putting in the work to make the ideal a reality. There are no number of renditions of “God Bless America” that will erase or white wash this country’s abysmal human rights record – here and overseas. Despite the best efforts of Texas legislators to paint a prettier picture over the legacy of the country, the blood stained memories remain. And no matter how many times President Obama lies with a straight face about this being “one America,” people living on the other side of the tracks know better.

If we were what we thought we were, I might be able to muster up some angry keystrokes about Lil Wayne.

We aren’t.

Nor are we trying to be.

So I won’t.


One thought on “Lil Wayne, the flag and selective outrage

  1. Wayne was issuing statements copping pleas after that video went viral. Had he came out and said he meant to do it, I’d have rode for him, because he certainly would’ve been well within his rights to do so. But he didn’t, and nothing I saw indicated that he meant to step on the flag.

    I appreciate artists (even if I don’t always like what they do), it’s just hard — impossible — for me to assign meaning where the artist has explicitly stated none belongs.

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