The rapper Common is not the most racially controversial artist in America. In fact, some say he’s relatively mild mannered. But even one old song about Assata Shakur is enough to brew racial tensions in a country that pretends that racism doesn’t exist. The rapper was set to appear at Kean University to speak, but he’s now been told to go away after writing a song in support of Assata Shakur many years ago. According to some officials, Shakur is simply a wanted “cop killer” who doesn’t deserve anyone’s support, let alone an artist like Common.
The campus is divided about the decision to push Common off campus. Also, in recent years, many colleges campuses have become quite restrictive when it comes to freedom of speech, effectively banishing anyone sharing unpopular viewpoints. It leads us to wonder what future exists for a country when people are not able to express dissent without having their views squashed by those who disagree with them. Read more:
Common, who recently said that black people should show a hand in love to white people when it comes to racism, was scheduled to give Kean’s commencement address next month—that was until someone came across his song “A Song for Assata.” On Monday the university announced that Common had been selected, but by Tuesday it had axed him.
Susan Kayne, a university spokeswoman, told The Record that the announcement was made prematurely.
“The students expressed interest in Common because he composed the Oscar-winning song ‘Glory’ with our prior commencement speaker John Legend,” Kayne said. “While we respect his talent, Kean is pursuing other speaker options.”
Apparently New Jersey State Police took issue with Common’s old song because of Shakur’s conviction for killing a New Jersey state trooper.
Chris Burgos, president of the State Troopers Fraternal Association of New Jersey, said that having Common speak at the university would be a “slap in the face.”