Lecrae on America and Immigration

Lecrae Anomaly

I’ve never really followed Lecrae before, but I heard about the release of his new album Anomaly (Reach Records, 2014), and figured I would give it a listen. I have to admit, I’m quite impressed with what I’ve heard so far. He combines quality music and rhythms with thoughtful lyrics, which is rare these days. He even wades into issues of social justice, including the topic of immigration. Here is a snippet of the lyrics from his second track, “Welcome to America,” which is told from an immigrant’s perspective:

I wish I lived in America
Wanna raise my kids in America
Heard everybody rich, all I gotta do is run jump kick
I might hit in your area
So please pick me America
I know you probably never loved me
You never hear about me on the news
And you’ve probably never been to my country
I hear you selling education and got clothes that you throw away
Got plenty food in your nation
I can tell ’cause a lot of y’all are overweight
I already work for y’all
I’m at a sweatshops making these shirts for y’all
No I ain’t gettin’ money
Go to bed hungry, but I make some exports for y’all
Y’all don’t know a thing about that
You was made in America
I’m trying to find me a ticket
Where the sky is the limit, catch a plane to America
It should be plain to America
Y’all blessed and you got it made
Heard y’all don’t pray no more
Y’all ain’t saved no more
Y’all looking for another way
Well I hope it ain’t true
But I’m packing my suit
Farewell to my motherland
Sayin’ bye to my loved ones
Fate, hear I come, I’m goin’ to another land
I done made it to America
I’m amazed at America
But I couldn’t get approval to stay so they sent me away from America

About Kyle Dillon

A teaching elder in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), assistant pastor of theological instruction at Riveroaks Reformed Presbyterian Church, and theology/languages teacher at Westminster Academy in Memphis, Tennessee.

One Response to “Lecrae on America and Immigration”

  1. Before a critique of this song, I’ll note that I’ve heard some of Lecrae’s work before and what I’ve heard is pretty good (although he can rap so rapidly that I don’t catch everything). Lecrae is entitled to his opinions about anything, but if he wants to wade into politics than he should be prepared to be countered by reasoned criticism.

    General points:

    Lecrae works in a field, arts/media, whose American native practitioners on the whole face less competition from foreign labor than many other American workers. After all, hard to make it as a hip-hip singer in America if (among other things) English is not your first language; and Lecrae’s job cannot be outsourced to a Chinese sweatshop or Indian call center. All of us must always be honest with ourselves about how our self-interest shapes our thinking about politics and culture.

    Lecrae has also lived much of his life in cities which have experienced heavy immigrant influx: Houston, San Diego, Denver, and now Atlanta. I wonder if Lecrae has considered the problems that such unrestrained influx, often from difficult to assimilate sources, has created for many American residents of those cities, especially the lower classes and Lecrae’s own fellow African-Americans. These groups, both in the recent past and still in the present in areas with few immigrants, found, and have trouble finding today, the steppingstones to the middle class that were occupations such as construction, meat-packing, cab-driving, custodial services, food preparation, and others which are now to a large degree the provinces of immigrants whom immoral employers happily exploit in ways they could not exploit American citizens. (In my own city of Augusta, Georgia, which has a high percentage of blacks and low percentages of immigrants and Hispanics and other heavily foreign-born groups, this sort of service labor is performed mostly by black and white American natives.)

    Some specifics:

    “I know you probably never loved me”: America shows, and arguably has shown since colonial times, more hospitality to foreign visitors and permanent entrants, even today’s illegals, than most other societies in human history, up to the present, have ever shown to outsiders. Not perfect hospitality, to be sure, but I’ll eagerly compare the American record in this regard with the records of any of the major sources current immigration, virtually all of whom have stricter, more harshly enforced, laws on foreigners.

    “Got plenty food in your nation / I can tell ’cause a lot of y’all are overweight”: The US has the world’s second-highest obesity rate… but who has the highest? Lecrae might be surprised to learn that that title is held by Mexico, by far the largest source of American immigration for perhaps half a century now. Indeed, high immigration from countries whose populations have genetic predispositions for obesity (masked in times past by food scarcity) is likely inflating America’s obesity rate beyond what it would be otherwise.

    “I’m at a sweatshops making these shirts for y’all… I make some exports for y’all”: Most of America’s textile industry has indeed moved overseas, a result of the same greed and lack of patriotism behind much of the business community’s support for unrestrained immigration. Thing is, the countries where clothes for Americans are now made jealously guard these textile jobs, because the alternative, at least until they develop more sophisticated industry, is backbreaking subsistence agriculture. I for one would rather see Americans make clothes for Americans, but that would make a lot of people in Asia and Latin America very upset.

    “Heard y’all don’t pray no more”: While secularism is on the rise in America, it still remains the most religious advanced nation in the world, and is more religious, and certainly more Christian, than many of the underdeveloped places whence current immigrants come.

    “But I couldn’t get approval to stay so they sent me away from America”: Then why is so much of the national political debate focused on whether or not to legalize those living here illegally? Logically it is because we have **not** sent most of them away.

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