February 15, 2013
Emmett Till STILL causin’ trouble, dammit!
On the remix of “Karate Chop,” Wayne spits one line (“beat that p—y up like Emmett Till”) that prompted a response from Till’s cousin Airickca Gordon-Taylor, who is also the founding director of the Mamie Till Mobley Memorial Foundation.
“My agenda is not to be disrespectful to Lil Wayne, even as much as I feel he’s been disrespectful to my family. We just want Emmett’s name removed from that song,” Gordon-Taylor told the Chicago Sun-Times on Wednesday. (…)
Future’s label, Epic Records, caught wind of the controversy and responded by stating that they would work to have the offensive content removed from the Internet. “We regret the unauthorized remix version of Future’s ‘Karate Chop,’ which was leaked online and contained hurtful lyrics,” the label said in a statement via the Associated Press.
“Out of respect for the legacy of Emmett Till and his family and the support of the Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. … we are going through great efforts to take down the unauthorized version.” According to Epic, an official version of the song will be re-released, that “will not include such references.”
Wayne isn’t the first rapper to mention Till in rhyme, with Kanye famously rapping about him on “Through the Wire” (“On the plane, scared as hell that her guy look like Emmett Till”) after surviving a near fatal car crash.
Where to start?
First: there are too many goddamn imaginary “foundations.”
Second: Jesse “Shakedown” Jackson? Still??
Third: We really want to keep reinforcing the toxic “disrespect” culture amonst African-Americans, huh?
Fourth: It isn’t reasonable to expect people, especially artists, to have the same reverence for Your Favorite Cause Here than you do.
Of course we’re going to devolve from Bob Dylan and James Baldwin to Lil’ Wayne and Kanye as the distance from the event lengthens. Complaining about this is like complaining about gravity.
Yes, I will be mightily pissed off about 9/11 jokes for the rest of my life — especially if they’re cracked by young whippersnappers — but I don’t think they should be banned.
We need more bad taste and iconoclasm to try to offset the damage done by political correctness.
Remember when liberals used to say, “If you don’t like it, then just don’t listen, you uptight squares”?
Fourth: While we’re talking elsewhere about “rapey” commercials and songs, don’t forget who started it — and have fun listening to these people yell at each other back in 1976:
“Rarely has one single case exposed so clearly as Till’s the underlying group-male antagonisms over access to women; for what began in Bryant’s store [where Till whistled] should not be misconstrued as an innocent flirtation. … Emmett Till was going to show his black buddies that he, and by inference, they, could get a white woman. …The accessibility of all white women was on review”(p. 247)
“We are rightly aghast that a whistle could be cause for murder, but we must also accept that Emmett Till and J. W. Milam shared something in common. They both understood that the whistle was no small tweet. . . it was a deliberate insult, just short of physical assault, a last reminder to Carolyn Bryant that this black boy, Till, had in mind to possess her.” (p. 247)
Perhaps Brownmiller’s analysis of the Till murder would not have been so outrageous had it not been for the intervention of a curious figure. In the aftermath of the Till holocaust, Eldridge Cleaver became a rapist. He analyzes this conscious decision in Soul on Ice — how he had a minor breakdown, when, upon seeing a picture of Carolyn Bryant, he got turned on. His next step was to learn how to defile white man’s property. After practicing on Black women, he learned the trade and reached journeyman’s status: a certified rapist of white women.
The point is not to defend Eldridge Cleaver. For all his selfanalysis and introspection, he still finds it more comfortable to manufacture exhibitionistic men’s trousers called, of course, “Cleavers,” than to maintain the fight against racism or sexism. But Cleaver did have some useful insights into rape that went beyond his individual psyche: victims of white supremacy are apt to vent their anger on women, who symbolize white man’s property. In other words, white supremacy is a contributing cause of male supremacy, at least insofar as it affects relations between Black men and white women. An interesting analysis could be made along these lines. At the very least, Cleaver and others shocked the nation into looking at racism more seriously, by connecting it to what is nearest and dearest to white men: their female property. Brownmiller, however, misses all this. To her, Cleaver is nothing but a rape peddler.
Fifth: Why is Lil Wayne is in trouble for writing about this:
But Chris Brown gets to go to the Grammys after doing this?
Because it is easier to talk about words than to do anything about actions.
UPDATE — Jim Goad writes:
…now some of Till’s relatives are acting like they’re all offended and shit.
Airickca Gordon-Taylor—I swear to fucking Christ that’s how she spells “Erica”—claims to be Emmett Till’s cousin and is seeking an apology from Lil Wayne. (…)
Who’s wrong in this situation? I’m-a take Lil Wayne’s side on this one. The spelling of “Airickca” alone is a deal-breaker.
BONUS awesome — Howard U. prof writes:
I thought it odd … that as the president and his family made their way to his public swearing-in on Jan. 21 that not far behind the Obamas were singer Beyonce and her husband Jay-Z, the former Brooklyn drug dealer-turned successful, legitimate businessman.
… It is not just that the president stood [at the Inauguration] with an artist who has glorified the use of handguns. Their pairing at such an historic event also desensitizes our young people to how life really works: they need to know that if you live in a world that gets “bloody” and “messy” you are not likely to end up hanging out with the president of the United States.