What Lil Wayne's New Single Says About America

Lil Wayne performs at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Lil Wayne performs at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Pointing out that patriotism and religion have always been used as weapons against people of color in the U.S., Monica Miller argues at BET that, like it or not, hip-hop artist Lil Wayne's transgressive new single, "God Bless Amerika," taps into the nation's zeitgeist in the aftermath of George Zimmerman's acquittal in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

… Lil Wayne was back in America’s hot seat when charged with desecrating a United States flag when shooting the video for “God Bless Amerika” back in June. In response, Wayne reported that the flag stomping was not on purpose.

The final video, released to seemingly coincide with the Zimmerman verdict, didn’t include the flag-stomping moment. While Zimmerman’s trial and acquittal rightfully overshadowed this flag controversy, Zimmerman’s trial and Wayne’s song “God Bless Amerika” have more in common than many might think …

Both patriotism and religion have been used to hide people of color’s concerns from the purview of whites and others for a long, long time. Slavery didn’t end soon enough and one justification was that it wasn’t in the best interest of the country, a flag waving in front of black people. Another common belief was that slavery was in the bible, so it was justified, amounting to worship of the white god. Segregation got started and didn’t end for nearly 100 years because the powers that be cared more for the flag and god-sanctioned apartheid than they did about the people underneath and behind those symbols.

The song behind the video, “God Bless Amerika,” leaves us with a hunch that Weezy’s steps on the flag may have been accidental, but not exactly avoidable. He raps:

“The stars on the flag are never shining

Uh, I saw a butterfly in hell today

Will I die or go to jail today?”

Trayvon’s murder is reflective of the fixed options too many in this nation face: physical death or social death …


Read Monica Miller's entire piece at BET.

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