Better role models needed for our area youth

Published 7:22 pm Thursday, February 14, 2013

A story was released Friday about the controversial figure in pop culture and rapper Lil’ Wayne. According to the Associated Press, the celebrity came under fire for a recent song he released with lyrics that made a comparison of sexual intimacy and the beating of Emmett Till.

Till was the young boy who was brutally murdered and beaten to death after a white woman accused him of whistling at her in Mississippi in 1955. Till was beaten, had his eyes gauged out and was shot in the head before he was tied to a cotton gin fan with barbed wire and tossed into a river. The men who were accused of the crime, one being the husband of the woman he whistled to, were acquitted by an all-white jury in Mississippi. Till’s mother had an open casket funeral and the images of his body are credited with pushing civil rights into the forefront of political conversations.

The lyrics about Till, which are not being printed in most media outlets because of their extreme vulgarity, make a sad suggestion and pop culture reference on Future’s “Karate Chop” remix.

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Epic Records has since released a statement saying they regret the lyrics were released and said they were employing great efforts to pull it down.

Some might think that celebrity rapper Lil’ Wayne is far removed from our small town that praises civil rights and celebrates African American culture.

But we want to remind the community that though Lil’ Wayne has nothing to do with Selma, he lives in the iPods and in the Pandora playlists of many youth in our city. His cool beats and witty rhymes in songs like “Lollipop” and “A Milli” are extremely popular on music charts and widely listened to in African American communities.

We love our youth and we love Selma. It is our hope and prayer that with events like Jubilee just around the corner, that our young people see historic tragedies like the death of Emmett Till and Bloody Sunday through respectful eyes.

As students learn of their culture and African American history we hope they use those events and challenge situations in which they see history being repeated, not reduce these references and martyrs to sexual and comedic rhymes.

Those historic figures and those figures that were role models, who put their life in harms way for freedom and equality surely do not deserve a reference that is demeaning and insensitive.

The Till family has spoken out against the foul lyrics and have stated they would like an apology.

Here in Selma we need no apology, but we would like to take this opportunity to remind our young African American students to choose figures to admire such as Till and Rosa Parks and not an entertainer such as Lil’ Wayne.

People like Amelia Boynton Robinson and Martin Luther King Jr. only made the South and our city better, but rappers who speak about revenge, violence and drugs do not.