After recently making headlines for saying racism is over, rapper Lil Wayne is back with more puzzling opinions about being Black in America.
Last month, DeWayne Carter, a 34-year-old Black man from New Orleans, Louisiana, stated during an interview with the hosts of ESPN’s Undisputed that, “not only had I thought [racism] was over, I believe it’s over, but obviously it isn’t.”
He went on to say that his “blessings” — in the form of his widespread and mainstream success and wealth — have left him to believe that he has not experienced racism.
For starters, Lil Wayne is from Hollygrove, one of the poorest and most crime-ridden neighborhoods in New Orleans. This is no accident: Since the Jim Crow era, all of the southern states have found ways to limit the access of Black people in historically and presently white spaces, especially in housing.
In fact, just a decade ago, on Sept. 29, 2006 — barely a year after Hurricane Katrina, St. Bernard Parish County passed the infamous “blood relative” ordinance. This restricted home rentals to only those who were blood relatives of the owners, defined as “within the first, second or third direct ascending or descending generations.” To rent to anyone other than blood relatives, landlords had to obtain a Permissive Use Permit from the St. Bernard Parish County Council. Additionally, violators of the ordinance — including tenants and owners — were subject to criminal prosecution and civil penalties, including, but not limited to, a misdemeanor charge, hefty fines per day that the ordinance was being violated, and penalties for unpermitted rental.
The justification for such an ordinance was the “need to maintain the integrity and stability of established neighborhoods,” because about 93 percent of St. Bernard’s housing units were owned by white people at the time. The impact of the blood-relative ordinance made single-family rentals unavailable to non-white people — specifically Black ones — as Black people were hit hardest and helped least by and after Hurricane Katrina.
Ordinances like this exist throughout New Orleans, the southern United States, and the entire United States. Lil Wayne’s childhood and origins, having a rough childhood and growing up in a poor and dangerous neighborhood, literally represent how racism has affected him and his life.
Lil Wayne’s hypocrisy, unfortunately, does not end there.
In regard to activism, specifically Black Lives Matter, Lil Wayne said in an interview with The New York Times, “I’ve got all kind of color lives mattering up in here -green, all kinds of stuff mattering. I’m trying to make sense of what’s on in this world up in here [points to head].”
Black Lives Matter has never stated that their movement means that only Black lives matter, but soon after this statement, Wayne seemed to understand the importance of thinking outside of one’s self.
“When I saw people giving a damn about what I’m going through, that made me think and obviously uplifted me,” he said in his interview for The Times.
So essentially, he can understand the importance and necessity for him to be uplifted by other people (in the context of the interview, it was fans and other musical artists via Twitter after he announced his retirement). However, Wayne has trouble looking outside of himself and the need to “give a damn about what others are going through,” through activism — which fights specifically for those damaged and disheartened by systemic racism and oppression.
Hopefully someone helps him educate himself enough to understand that racism touches all Black people, rich, famous, or otherwise. He should give T.I. a call.