21 Savage is one of the most well-known, well listened to and respected rappers of the past few years. Present on two Grammy-nominated songs: Childish Gambino’s “This is America,” which won song of the year, and Post Malone’s “Rockstar."
However, 21 Savage didn't attend the ceremony.
The Atlanta rapper is originally from the United Kingdom. Living in the U.S. since 2005, when he entered legally, 21 Savage was arrested earlier this month by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement due to overstaying his visa.
His arrest has caused a social media uproar involving shock, and a lot of inappropriate memes. The man is being punished for coming to America at 12 years old, for which he presumably had no control over. To question his freedom, and now, the possibility of being deported, is not something that should be laughed at.
Some of these memes suggest that 21 Savage lied about his childhood and being from Atlanta to help further his rapping career. Others use pop-culture references like Harry Potter to create a laugh. Quite frankly, it is utterly disturbing that something ICE-related has transformed into a joke throughout social media. This is the same organization that has separated families, detained toddlers and is involved in several lawsuits.
Regardless if you like 21 Savage’s music or agree with the alleged façade that some believe him to have orchestrated, he is a person whose freedom is now being threatened.
Furthermore, 21 Savage is a wealthy rapper — so if his freedom is at stake, one can only imagine what those who do not have his resources may endure at the hands of ICE.
What many people don’t understand is that while 21 Savage may not be originally from Atlanta, the social injustices that he addresses in his music are universal and are happening everywhere — not just in America. 21 Savage describes his encounters with terrible violence, and in the song “Close My Eyes” he raps, “I see dead bodies when I close my eyes, dog,” and addresses the divisiveness and evil that takes place throughout society in his other music.
In addition, 21 Savage may not have been born in Atlanta, but it became his home when he was 12 years old.
21 Savage is not a flight risk. According to an official statement on behalf of 21 Savage by Kuck Baster Immigration, the rapper entered America as a minor along with millions of other children and has not hidden his immigration status.
Furthermore, 21 Savage has a family — three children who depend on him. The memes and jokes surrounding his arrest are dehumanizing and taking away from the issue at hand. The fact is that a man who has been paying thousands of dollars in taxes, contributing to society and entered the United States legally as a child, has become an internet sensation and was a distraction from what many saw as a boring Super Bowl.
Karlie Murphy is a staff writer. Follow her on Twitter: @Karlie_murphy