Confederate Statues Are Coming Down As Rappers Speak Up

At this very moment, the United States is undergoing an unnerving week of heated political debate. Over the previous weekend, a rally organized by members of White nationalist, KKK, and other extremist groups turned violent and fatal. Charlottesville, Virginia has become the unwitting headquarters for America’s latest civil-rights battle, one that led to the murder of Heather Heyer, a counter-protestor who was killed on August 12 when a car driven by a self-proclaimed Nazi plowed through a crowd. The original rally – which was dubbed the “Unite The Right” Rally – was protesting the removal of a statue commemorating Confederate Army commander Robert E. Lee, who led the South in their failed attempt to win the Civil War.

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The removal of statues across the South has been one of the cornerstones in today’s civil rights era. Earlier this year, New Orleans removed its own Lee statue in Lee Circle, which sits empty today pending any formal renaming ceremony. Other cities have followed suit as the country attempts to address the abhorrent parts of its past, with supporters arguing that the removal of Confederate symbols in public spaces is a step in the right direction. News out of Baltimore, Maryland today (August 16) suggests that the nation may very well be on its way to the complete eradication of all Confederate statues and symbols in public spaces. As reported by the New York Times, the city’s mayor made the decision to remove Confederate monuments “under the cover of darkness” in the overnight hours last night. Mayor Catherine Pugh said the decision was “in the best interest of my city,” adding “with the climate of this nation, I think it’s very important that we move quickly and quietly.” “For me, the statues represented pain, and not only did I want to protect my city from any more of that pain, I also wanted to protect my city from any of the violence that was occurring around the nation. We don’t need that in Baltimore,” she said.

It’s an issue that has extended its tendrils into all facets of life, from politics to sports and music. Of course, Hip-Hop’s voice has been omnipresent given the culture’s rich history of being a platform on which the oppressed can express their pain and frustration. In statements compiled by HipHopDX, T.I., Chris Rock, and Killer Mike are just a few of the culture’s representatives who have taken umbrage with the racist overtones not only in Charlottesville and across the country, but also in the White House. Taking to Instagram, Mike shared some choice words for Donald Trump, an embattled president whose latest public-relations disaster involves his clunky, unacceptable response to the violence elicited by the “alt-right” movement.

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It took Trump 48 hours to decry the groups involved in Unite The Right by name, and in the hours since he has made a series of statements that have only worsened his public image. He alluded to founding fathers being slave owners, asking Americans if we should be removing them from history, as well. Mike addressed this specifically, saying in an Instagram video:

“Can someone please inform the casino owner masquerading as the United States president that although he’s totally correct in Jefferson and Washington, and many of the other notables and presidents of this country being slave owners, absolutely correct about that — it doesn’t equate to keeping a Confederate general statue up because they were an oppositional force to this union. I just don’t want to look that f*cking stupid to the rest of the world. So please stop saying that stupid sh*t.”

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In the corresponding caption, the Run The Jewels rapper and outspoken political activist wrote:

“With all due respect Mr. POTUS (and u lame duck muthafu*kers that game him the bullsh*t half ass slaves excuse for the Confederate statute support) From your humble constituent. Please watch and swipe. ✊🏿✊🏼✊🏽✊🏻let’s Keep the country Great and never honor an enemy we defeated. That’s weak sh*t. Salutes, sir.”

Over 1,500 monuments and memorials to the Confederate States of America can be found throughout the country. In a Quartz article titled “The shoddy manufacturing story behind all those Confederate statues around the US,” writer Marc Bain explains that many of these monuments were erected decades after the Civil War ended, and were themselves conceptualized within the racist framework of Jim Crow America. “Towns erected them in the early 20th century, decades after the Civil War, because their Confederate mythologies helped to justify Jim Crow laws in the South that oppressed Black citizens,” he explains. Citing a recent study by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Bain says these statues are “concentrated largely in states like Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia,” though are by no means found only in states that were once part of the failed Confederacy.

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It’s unclear where this country is headed, although that is surely an observation that remains true regardless of whatever scandal or upheaval is in the headlines. But as Killer Mike said in his speech introducing Bernie Sanders during a campaign rally for the Vermont senator and former presidential candidate, “I am here as a proponent for a political revolution.” Are you?

#BonusBeat: Ambrosia For Heads’ Last 7 review of the events of the last week, including Charlottesville and the response:

This premiered today.