By Monica Land
CHICAGO – It’s been weeks since the backlash began over a vulgar lyric used by rap superstar Lil Wayne in one of his songs referencing murdered Chicago teen Emmett Till. And while many have spoken out against the Grammy-winning, multi-platinum artist, Wayne himself, whose real name is Dwayne Michael Carter Jr., remains mum on the subject.
In fact, Wayne is said to be “resting comfortably” two days after suffering a seizure that sent him to a Los Angeles hospital this weekend and falsely triggered media reports that he was near death.
But many remain unnerved that Wayne, a 30-year-old black man, could be so callous when it comes to the still emotionally charged story of Emmett Till.
Keith Beauchamp is one of them.
Beauchamp is the executive producer and host of an investigative series that researches unsolved murders on the Discover Channel entitled, “The Injustice Files.”
“Like many, I was very disturbed when I first heard the song and the use of Emmett’s name in a derogatory manner,” Beauchamp said. “It saddens me that someone of Southern origin [Lil Wayne] and from my home state, would not have enough self-respect of his being.”
Beauchamp is speaking of Wayne’s song, “Karate Chop,” wherein Wayne compares a rough sexual act to the tortuous death of the 14-year-old Till in Mississippi. Following a crude reference to rough sex, Wayne indicates that he wanted to do as much damage as had been done to Till.
Till was just 14 when his mother, Mamie Till Mobley, sent him to Money, Miss., in August 1955 to visit family. Till went with friends to Bryant’s Grocery Store on Money Road in Leflore County where he allegedly whistled at the store’s white owner, Carolyn Bryant.
Mobley always said her son was not whistling at Bryant. But instead, doing just as she told the young stutterer, blowing out his words with a whistle.
Till was kidnapped later that night, beaten, murdered and dumped in the Tallahatchie River.
His murderers were set free by an all-white jury.
Beauchamp wasn’t even alive when Till was killed, but it was seeing the image of a battered and mutilated Till in a JET Magazine when he was just 10-years-old that sparked his initial interest in the Chicago teen’s murder.
A Louisiana native, Beauchamp is internationally known for his first documentary, “The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till,” and his work with the FBI and the Civil Rights Cold Case Initiative in re-opening Till’s murder case and the subsequent exhumation of Till’s body during the investigation.
- Till’s story remains so poignant today, that on Monday, March 18, Beauchamp will be hosting a screening of the film at Chicago State University (CSU).
On Tuesday, CSU will hold a screening of Beauchamp‘s film, “The Injustice Files: Hood of Suspicion” followed by a panel discussion to end the violence plaguing Chicago’s streets.
“It just shows us the work that still must done to teach a generation where many of its offspring are lost,” Beauchamp said.
Beauchamp said he also blames the entertainment industry that continues to produce records that glorify sex and violence and promote negative imagery within the black community.
“I have to place the blame on the music industry as well as those who continue to condone and set the atmosphere that allow these setbacks to take place,” he said. “For them it’s profitable. And as long as they continue to make the almighty
dollar, this type of poison will continue to fester ultimately destroying the image of our people.”
WABG Radio owner and host, James Poe, said he was also disappointed by the lyrics especially since his studios are also located on Money Road less than six miles from where Till went into Bryant’s Grocery Store on that fateful day in 1955.
Poe reached out to Wayne to no avail, but he still had an on air discussion with his listeners about the songs content.
Music icon Stevie Wonder said the rapper’s disturbing verse should not have made it beyond the recording studio for the world to hear and that songwriters have to “choose their words wisely.”
“Sometimes people have to put themselves in the place of people who they are talking about,” Wonder told the Associated Press. “Imagine if that happened to your mother, brother, daughter or your son. How would you feel? Have some discernment before we say certain things. That goes for me or any other (song)writer.”