Mississippi-born rapper Genesis Be wrapped herself in a Confederate flag, hung a noose around her neck and ordered fans to rip up a Confederate flag during a recent performance to protest Gov. Phil Bryant’s decision to designate the month of April as Confederate Heritage Month.
The controversial performance came on April 26 at New York’s SOB’s night club, where the 27-year-old reportedly performed the mass incarceration protest anthem, “Young Brown Fly.”
“After the performance, I pulled out a lighter and the crowd asked me to burn the flag,” the rapper told the New York Daily News. “I just threw it into the crowd and told them to rip it up for me, which they did.”
Be, who grew up in Biloxi, Mississippi, now lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Gov. Bryant has defended the decision to proclaim April as Confederate Heritage Month, explaining that the move is an attempt to “earnestly strive to understand our heritage.”
“Governor Bryant believes Mississippi’s history deserves study and reflection, no matter how unpleasant or complicated parts of it may be,” Clay Chandler, a spokesman for the governor, told CNN. “Like the proclamation says, gaining insight from our mistakes and successes will help us move forward.”
Genesis Be, however, disagrees with the Mississippi governor.
“In my eyes, it is an anti-American heritage,” Be told the Clarion Ledger. “The fact that my ancestors were brutalized under these same ideals of putting profit before people was my real motivation.”
In the weeks after her New York performance, the rapper says she has received threatening phone calls.
In an April 22 post on Twitter in response to Confederate Heritage Month, Be declared that “Black Lives Don’t Matter” to Gov. Bryant.
— G.Be (@GenesisBe) April 22, 2016
“I’m fighting for the integrity of my ancestors, honestly,” the rapper said. “The people who were oppressed, enslaved, raped under that banner.”
CORRECTION: The initial version of this article mistakenly reported that Genesis Be asked her fans to rip up the American flag, not the Confederate flag.