Just when we thought Vic Mensa was a woke bae, he proved to be, well, not so woke. On Saturday, the Chicago-born rapper Tweeted “white supremacy is so 1850” — most likely in response to the hundreds of white nationalists who gathered on the University of Virginia’s campus; as a result, the state of Virginia declared a state of emergency. His 370K+ followers, however, weren't impressed by his statement. In fact, they were quick to call out his hypocrisy for denouncing white supremacy while — wait for it —wearing a leather jacket decorated with a Confederate flag patch in his profile picture.
@My_Moment95 wrote “Sir… check your jacket for a certain flag that probably shouldn’t be there…,” while @1HypnoticCurves added: “And so is that Confederate Flag jacket you have on. After @Above2ndPlace Tweeted, “There’s a confederate flag on your 'cool' jacket if you haven’t noticed, Mensa replied: “I was reclaiming the symbol, instead of allowing myself to be controlled by fear."
As odd as this is — especially given our current political climate, where the Confederate flag gives credence to a group of people who champion white supremacy — Mensa isn't the only rapper to embrace the controversial symbol: Lil' John, Ludacris, and Andre 3000 have all been photographed in some variation of it. And in 2013, Kanye West also tried to reclaim the flag as his own by wearing a bomber jacket with the emblem on the sleeve — and by selling the same piece as concert merch during his Yeezus tour. “React how you want,” West said at the time. “Any energy is good energy. The Confederate flag represented slavery in a way. That’s my abstract take on what I know about it, right? So I wrote the song ‘New Slaves.’ So I took the Confederate flag and made it my flag. It’s my flag now. Now what are you going to do?”
The answer, however, is pretty simple: Maybe Mensa shouldn't assume that just because he's “reclaimed” the sign as his own that others don't still see it as a reminder of slavery and the systemic racism that has existed in this country since (people can't even stand the thought of the Confederacy being revived via scripted television). It also doesn't eliminate the physical violence that's often been resulted from the White Nationalist movement, like church bombings, lynchings, hell, even the rally in Virginia. One of Mensa’s fans said it best, “You’re just trying to justify the flag on his jacket.” And frankly, we just don't have time for that.