Henry Giroux recently took to the pages of Truthout to criticize Lil Wayne’s use of racist and sexist rhymes in the song Karate Chop ft. Lil Wayne (Remix). The contention comes over one specific rhyme “. . . beat the pussy up like Emmett Till.”
Emmet Till was a black teen who was brutally beaten and murdered for allegedly flirting with a white women. Till, who was only 14, was beaten and had an eye gouged before being shot in the head and dumped in a river in 1955.
Giroux is a cultural critic that specializes in critical pedagogy at McMaster University. His books include Disposable Youth: Racialized Memories, and the Culture of Cruelty and Theory and Resistance in Education: Towards a Pedagogy for the Opposition.
Giroux writes in “Lil Wayne’s Lyrical Fascism”:
His racist and sexist comment exceeds bad taste. It points to a society in which economics is divorced from ethics, profit is the ultimate measure of success and disposable populations are now fair game for ridicule, harassment and insulting behavior. Lil Wayne is just one example of the morally dead zone that too many artists, individuals, institutions, intellectuals and politicians occupy in a land of massive inequality in wealth and power.
Lil Wayne’s allusion to Emmitt Till in his lyrics represents more than stupidity. It represents how normalized the culture of cruelty has become and how it wraps itself in a popular culture that is increasingly racist, misogynistic and historically illiterate. This is neoliberalism’s revenge on young people in that it elevates profits over justice and the practice of moral witnessing, and in doing so, creates artists and other young people who mimic a racist and authoritarian politics and are completely clueless about it.
Giroux is certainly not wrong, but something still feels a little racist about an old white man chastising a black man for being “historically illiterate.”
Read the full article here.