Over the past few weeks, reports came out that the popular rapper, 21 Savage, has been detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) because he is originally from the United Kingdom and has been living in the United States with an expired visa. When the reports came out, social media blew up with funny memes of 21 Savage. I understand that the idea of this popular rap artist who we have so long thought of as someone born and bred in Atlanta actually being from the United Kingdom is so baffling that it’s funny, but people, especially other Black people and people of color, need to look at the bigger picture.
I first heard about this news when one of my friends sent a screenshot of the report to our group chat. Most of the other people in my group chat laughed or questioned it. When I first saw the report, I immediately thought to myself: Would this be happening if he were a white man from the UK?
Admittedly, I can’t say that I know much about 21 Savage’s music. I only know about one or two of his popular songs and his use of the phrase “issa”. However, after doing my research, I found out that he has been recently using his music to bring more attention to issues going on in this country such as immigration and the Flint water crisis. I also found out that, according to 21 Savage’s attorneys, U.S. officials have known about 21 Savage’s immigration status since 2017. When the rapper decides to use his platform to bring attention to these political issues, all of a sudden, ICE debates whether or not he should live in this country.
The fact that he is a Black man makes people look past the fact that this is an example of the terrible manner in which immigration issues are handled in this country. The fact of the matter is that this man has basically grown up in the United States. ICE stated that 21 Savage entered the country when he was 12, his lawyers have said that he’s been here since he was 7. Either way, he has spent most of his life here and if he gets deported, he would be returning to a country that he barely knows, just like most people who have grown up in this country and get deported once they reach adulthood.
The main point that I want to get across is that instead of laughing at him and making fun on him on Twitter, people of color need to wake up and really think about the severity of the situation. This situation serves as a reminder that if we as people of color try to have a voice in this country, there are people that will do everything in their power to get rid of us no matter who we are or where we come from.