Washington DC – Grammy-nominated rapper 21 Savage (She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph) was detained in Atlanta on Sunday, February 3. According to his attorney:
“The Department of Homeland Security has known his address and his history since his filing for the U Visa in 2017, yet they took no action against him until this past weekend…As a minor, [21 Savage]’s family overstayed their work visas, and he, like almost two million other children, was left without legal status… This is a civil law violation, and the continued detention of Mr. Abraham-Joseph serves no other purpose than to unnecessarily punish him and try to intimidate him into giving up his right to fight to remain in the United States.”
For years, Define American has provided one of the largest platforms for people in the U.S. to share their stories. In the process, we discovered how highly problematic and exclusive a “model” or “good” immigrant narrative can be, suggesting that only perfect people are deserving of the American dream, a perfection no citizen would be able to achieve.
Mr. Abraham-Joseph is not a perfect person, but that should not preclude him from being able to continue to contribute to American society. He has been a part of this country since 2005, and has become a distinct part of American pop culture. To remove him from the country would be to remove a part of ourselves.
Sadly, as we address in our recently published media guide and our Black Panther discussion guide, Mr. Abraham-Joseph’s case is emblematic of the larger issues faced by millions of immigrants in America. If given an opportunity or legal recourse, he would have found a way to become legal in the eyes of the law.
We at Define American have a proud history of telling the stories of people who are American in every way but their status. As such, we are committed to telling 21 Savage’s full American story, just as we have been for people who don’t have platforms afforded to those more well-known.
We are also committed to telling the story of the discriminatory criminal justice system that has put our immigrant detention system on steroids. Because our country is better when we acknowledge our strengths empower all Americans to reach their full potential, and recognize each other’s humanity, we’ve joined alongside Color of Change, the Undocublack Network, Black Lives Matter, the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, United We Dream, other partners, and Mr. Abraham-Joseph’s legal and PR team to launch the #Free21Savage campaign.
We hope you will join us as we continue to Define American.