21 Savage: An example of obstacles and perseverance


Corryn Carter, Viewpoints Editor

In a firestorm of chaos, rapper 21 Savage was taken into custody by United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for failure to vacate the country following his visa expiration.

Savage, whose real name is Shéyaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, was born in the United Kingdom and moved to the United States in 2005 with an H-4 visa that expired the following year. His arrest comes mere days after Savage’s Tonight Show performance of hit song “A Lot” made mention of the horrible treatment of immigrant children that dominated the news last year, a nod to a much larger issue this country has in its treatment of migrants.

The most infuriating fact of this entire ordeal is that Savage is an example of perseverance and overcoming difficult circumstances. Raised in a community filled with violence and unrest, he was subjected to the way of the streets. He has been very honest with his fans about his time as a drug dealer and a thief; he has never asked us to accept or condone it, which I believe extremely honorable. In spite of his troubled past, he has created an opportunity for himself to advance through his ability as a rapper.

Additionally, he has created several opportunities for betterment within his community, not allowing the fame and money afforded by his success to change him. Out the mismanagement of money, he witnessed within the black community grew a financial literacy program to teach children how to save and invest.

Likewise, gun violence that riddled East Atlanta birthed the “Guns Down, Paintballs Up” movement, which encouraged the use of paintballs instead of actual bullets to handle disputes that would usually result in a fatality.

With so much promise, it is difficult to understand why he is the target of such intense and urgent proceedings to ensure his deportation.

The intensity and the lack of empathy correspond directly with Savage’s place in society. He is a black man with a muddled past that will constantly be the source of his detriment. According to ICE, 21 Savage is a convicted felon which makes him ineligible for citizenship, thus prompting proceedings for his immediate removal. His lawyers deny the conviction stating that it was vacated, while legal experts over the past few days have later reported that the case was merely sealed. Regardless, he awaits his removal hearing in one of the nation’s worst immigration detention centers without bond and on 23 hour lockdown.

Even more upsetting is the realization that he applied for a U-visa in order to gain legal citizenship first in 2015 and again in 2017. This application is more than likely what alerted authorities to his status as an illegal alien.

I am not suggesting that we uphold Savage as some sort of martyr, but it is important for us to recognize the implications of his arrest. At the very core of this entire fiasco is a young man who is simply to trying to handle his business the right way, in a situation where before he had no control. At this point, he is at a crossroad, a victim of a catch 22. His bond refusal and subsequent isolation is unreasonably cruel, and is yet again another example of this country refuses to respect immigrants despite its own origin story.

The truth of the matter is plain and simple: everyone who is not a Native American is an immigrant. Some of our ancestors came willingly while others arrived in shackles. Using the lack of citizenship as justification for their disrespect is hypocritical; they are human beings, in need of empathy and compassion.

Savage, like two million other children, was brought to the US as a child and stayed passed the time allotted through no fault of his own. Contrary to what we are often forced to believe, the largest population of illegal immigrants are those who overstay their visas, which only echoes the sentiments of those who say that a Mexican border wall rooted in prejudice, instead of an actual solution to the flaws of the immigration system.

Savage is a reminder of a much larger issue. Over the summer, children were separated from their parents and expected to represent themselves in court.

Savage has the privilege of a legal team, whose responsibility it is to see that this issue is rectified, however the others who are not as fortunate need our continued advocacy. We need to use our platforms to see to it that these children are properly treated and cared for, even if their fate is more than likely deportation.

Even more so, we must not forget those 250,000 children whose citizenship status hangs in limbo due to the removal of DACA. For the time being, each of them is at risk of being deported to various places they know nothing of because of this country’s unwillingness to be even slightly tolerant. The threat, though very miniscule to many of us, is worthy of our continued attention. Without our continued outcry, these children are going to literally have their entire lives taken away without much warning, and if we are truly advocates for their future, we cannot allow them to be cast aside and forgotten.