Yes, From Paul Robeson to Dwayne Lil Wayne Carter, Jr. : ThyBlackMan

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Yes, From Paul Robeson to Dwayne Lil Wayne Carter, Jr.

March 4, 2013 by  
Filed under Ent., Music, News, Opinion, Weekly Columns

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(ThyBlackMan.com) The one word to describe Paul Robeson is “giant.” He was born April 9, 1898 and died Jan. 23, 1976. He was a person of extraordinary power, significance, and importance; a man of enormous strength and stature.

Paul Robeson was an artist of the highest order; a singer, actor, scholar, and activist. He was considered by many to be one of the most important figures of the 20th Century.

A real Black man
Robeson was a “race man.” He was an African-American who used his enormous strength and stature as an artist, intellect, and international figurePaul-LilWayne to represent the race, disproving at every turn bigoted notions of White power and Black inferiority.

Robeson was socially conscious, socially responsible, and socially relevant.

James Baldwin once wrote, “Robeson…lives, overwhelmingly, in the hearts and minds of the people whom he touched, the people who gained from him the power to perceive and the courage to resist…He lived in our times, we live in his…”

Singer, actor, and lifelong activist Harry Belafonte knew Robeson quite well. In a recent interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Belafonte said, “I think one of the greatest abuses of this modern time is that we have had such high-profile artists, powerful celebrities. But they have turned their back on social responsibility.”

Ignorant and shameless
One of the current examples of a socially irresponsible high-profile artist is Dwayne Carter, Jr. a/k/a “Lil Wayne.” Carter is a rapper; a hip-hop artist born in 1982, 84 years after Robeson. One would only expect artists to become better educated, better informed, more socially conscious and aware. Unfortunately, Carter and his ilk take us back.

While working with rapper Nayvadius Wilburn, known as “Future” on his “Karate Chop” remix, Lil Wayne drops the line, “beat the p—y up like Emmett Till…” Does Lil Wayne, Epic Records Chairman Antonio “L.A.” Reid, or any rational adult in their inner circle have any idea how disgusting, demeaning, and socially irresponsible this is? Have they no shame?

Emmett Till was a 14-year-old African-American boy from Chicago, Ill. who was visiting relatives for the summer in the small town of Money, Miss. While out playing with his cousins on Aug. 24, 1955, young Till was accused of whistling at or flirting with a White woman, 21-year-old Carolyn Bryant.

On Aug. 27, 1955, Bryant’s husband Roy and his half-brother J. W. Milam arrived at Till’s great-uncle’s house where they snatched Till up, transported him to a barn, beat him, then gouged out one of his eyes before shooting him through the head. Then they dumped his body in the Tallahatchie River, weighting it with a 70-pound cotton gin fan tied around his neck with barbed wire. His body was discovered and retrieved from the river three days later.

A turning point
The brutal murder of Emmett Till was a seminal moment in African-Americans’ struggle for human rights. Tens of thousands attended Till’s funeral. Images of his mutilated body were published in Black magazines and newspapers, rallying popular support and sympathy across the U.S. Intense scrutiny was brought to bear on the condition of African-American civil rights in Mississippi and throughout the entire country, with newspapers around the country critical of the state.

Paul Robeson the artist dedicated his entire life to fighting the hatred and racism that motivated Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam to brutalize and murder an African-American teenager. Lil Wayne, the so-called artist, decided to trivialize that horrific and historic event by using it to make sick, caviler, sexist, and misogynistic references to women. I ask again. Has he no shame?

No defense
Future makes a feeble attempt to defend the indefensible by telling MTV News, “The record, it was done from a good place, good art, he ain’t have no bad intentions when he was thinking about it like that.” It was ignorance. There is no “good place.” This is not “good art.” Their intentions are irrelevant.

Gil Scott Heron, one of the original rappers, wrote in his song “Message to the Messengers”: “We got respect for you rappers…But if you’re gon’ be teachin’ folks things, make sure you know what you’re sayin’…Because if you’re gonna be speakin’ for a whole generation – And you know enough to try and handle their education – Be sure you know the real deal about past situations…Four-letter words or four-syllable words won’t make you important; it’ll only magnify how shallow you are and let everybody know it…”

No standards
This is a current example of how far we as a community have strayed from standards of conduct and decency. Anything goes for the sake of a dollar, a record sale, a fleeting moment of fame. Ignorant rappers can demean our history and demean our women. They can use our history to demean our women and claim “it was done from a good place, good art…”

Paul Robeson was a giant! Dwayne Carter, Jr. has turned his back on social responsibility. He is shallow and has let everybody know it. He is by his own admission and moniker, just “Lil.”

Written By Dr. Wilmer J. Leon III

Official website; http://www.wilmerleon.com

Also follow him on Twitter; http://Twitter.com/drwleon

 


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