“Randy and the Flea, Still Straight Hood”: Lakewood Church’s Youth Camp and Racial Stereotyping
Charity R. Carney
I’m working on an article for the Southern Quarterly that includes a discussion of Lakewood Church’s youth program, Canvas. In sifting through my sources, I ran across an interesting piece of Lakewood culture that, to my knowledge, has not gotten much exposure. Randy and the Flea are a faux rap group that makes videos to entice young people to summer camp. They have been around for several years and are again expected to attend the “Hope and Life” conference in June.
Here is a sample performance (complete with Osteen cameo):
I wanted to speak briefly to the pop culture referencing that occurs at Lakewood and the potential problems that it poses for the multicultural and diverse body that the church seeks to represent. Phil Sinitiere and I have had some very informative conversations about the demographics of Lakewood, and I expect that he has thought this issue through at length. I look forward to reading more of his work on the subject. From where I stand, it seems that Lakewood’s desire is to foster an ever-expanding and ethnically diverse congregation but Randy and the Flea intentionally (and perhaps sometimes unintentionally) foster stereotypes of southern hillbillies, black women (notice the woman with the hairspray in the video), black men (accompanying them down railroad tracks), Latinos (a man’s small stature is mentioned jokingly in one of the lines), and, last but not least, Indians (as the female reporter with her outrageous accent represents).
It’s true that Randy and the Flea are referencing the videos done by the Lonely Island (SNL's satirical rap group), but is this type of referencing problematic for a church like Lakewood? Should Lakewood’s demographic preclude these sort of racial jabs or is it because of the church’s diversity that they are able to make this commentary?
And, watch out! More videos are “coming soon” from this bizarre rap duo.