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When Nina Simone debuted her controversial single “Mississippi Goddam” in 1964 in front of a majority white audience at Carnegie Hall, it was in direct response to the assassination of Medgar Evers and the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, which killed four little girls. Simone’s lyrics, “And everybody knows about Mississippi goddam!” was a true declaration that everybody indeed knew about unjust happenings in the South. But personalizing those atrocities seemed to confound appreciators of Simone’s music, which motivated her to craft the jazzy show-tune.
Like Simone, Reach Records artist WHATUPRG also aims to personalize the struggle of his people with his recent EP Raul. Most know about the highly politicized debate involving the cruelties of family separation and the immigration crises that’s sparked exaggerated claims of “bad hombres,” “animals…rapists…[and] criminals” trying to invade our country. But I wonder how many of us actually know how this debacle is affecting our immigrant neighbors.
WHATUPRG - Raul—his - Birth - Name - J
WHATUPRG uses Raul—his birth name, J. Raul Garcia—to give outsiders an opportunity to understand the struggle and collateral damage caused when we objectify and break apart families. Raul offers a unique and in-depth look of how the crippling weight of deportation can create emotional trauma for hard-working, law-abiding families. Throughout the EP, WHATUPRG (RG) exposes his struggle with faith, the emotions of missing his deported father, and the oxymoronic religiosity he observes from most Christian leaders who’d insist all people worship Jesus, but just not with them, in “their” country.
Many listeners quickly pointed out the laws and regulations regarding legal immigration. Even worse, some evangelicals took to social media to “educate” and confront RG on the legality of citizenship. But before the rift of what is legal or should be legal permeates the conversation, we’d all do well to consider RG’s humility in the face of...
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