Rapper Lupe Fiasco Honors Dr. King’s Legacy With Act of Civil Disobedience

by Stavroula Harissis

Lupe Fiasco

It’s Monday, January 21, 2013. Barack Obama, the first black president of the United States of America, is being inaugurated for his second and final term in office. As is custom, he takes his oath of office with one hand on the Bible, this one extra-special for having once belonged to the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Some see this as a wonderful symbol of the fulfillment of Dr. King’s dream. I see it as pure blasphemy.

Thankfully, another African American man representing Chicago decided to honor King’s memory in a different way.

Rapper Lupe Fiasco, known for his criticism of President Obama and the U.S. government in general, was invited to headline an unofficial inaugural celebration concert Sunday in Washington DC. Reports state that he was forced off stage after performing the song “Words I Never Said” for 30 minutes straight, along with ad-lib criticism of the President and his penchant for drone assassinations.

In response to the incident, event promoters stated: “This was not about his opinions. Instead, after a bizarrely repetitive, jarring performance that left the crowd vocally dissatisfied, organizers decided to move on to the next act.”

In any case, I admire Lupe’s openly critical lyrics and his courage to perform them, even in the face of repression and reprisal. I’m glad he was given a chance to make this statement on the eve of the day we honor Dr. King as a nation.

And I invite you to ask yourselves, who has truly honored Martin Luther King, Jr. this weekend: President Obama, who rests his hand on the Bible in order to accept his continued power to assassinate innocents with impunity? Or Lupe Fiasco, who wraps his hand around the mic in order to speak truth to power and demand justice?

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Open Letter to President Obama

Dear President Obama,

There has been a lot of talk, speculation, and confusion over the recently passed National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). As a concerned citizen, I have attempted to educate myself on this matter, but it seems that the more I read, the less I understand. Although the complete text of the bill is available online, it is over 400 pages long and full of legal jargon for which most American citizens have no frame of reference. Not to mention that there have been multiple drafts, revisions, and amendments proposed–some passed, others not–which further confuse the situation. We then turn to the media and other third parties to detangle and compress this web of jargon, amendments, and political context. But, with respect to the NDAA in particular, it seems we have only gotten more tangled in confusion and uncertainty from the numerous contradictory “reports” in the media.

Before you sign this bill, Mr. President, I would like you to explain to the American people exactly what the NDAA entails, specifically with regards to indefinite detention of U.S. citizens and overall domestic policy for fighting the “war on terror” within the borders of our country. It seems to me that this bill authorizes, or at least leaves open the possible interpretation that U.S. citizens may be detained indefinitely, without charge or trial, for any act regarded by the government as “supporting” “terrorism.” As the leader of our country, it is your duty to explain to us the implications of laws such as these, laws that purport to “protect” us but also have the possibility of infringing on our civil liberties.

This issue is all the more important given the ongoing suppression and police brutality against Occupy Wall Street protesters over the past three months, which you have yet to address. Your silence on this issue, coupled with this disconcerting Defense Authorization Act, have left many citizens like myself feeling abandoned and betrayed by your leadership, or lack thereof. Please address these issues and assure us that, as President of the United States of America, you will continue to uphold our rights under the Constitution and allow us to express our dissent without being labeled “terrorists.”

We voted you into office. Please address our concerns.

Sincerely,

Stavroula Harissis
United States Citizen