Michelle Obama is currently under fire for inviting rapper-actor Common, born Lonnie Rashid Lynn Jr., to the White House to take part in a celebration of American poetry scheduled for Wednesday, May 11.

So what’s wrong with that?

Well, here’s the rub: Common’s lyrics in the past — in an effort to vocalize the struggles of the black man — have included gun advocacy, threats of violence against law enforcement, and torching then-President George W. Bush.

Common has been hailed by African Americans as a “conscious” rapper, because he builds up black people in his lyrics, but what may be considered consciousness to us may be violent and divisive rhetoric to others. 

Here are lyrics (transcribed from the attached video) that he wrote in 2007:

A Letter to the Law

Dem boy wanna talk…

Whatcha gon do if ya got one gun?

I sing a song for the hero unsung

with faces on the mural of the revolution

No looking back cos’ in back is what’s done

Tell the preacher, god got more than one son

Tell the law, my Uzi weighs a ton

I walk like a warrior,

from them I won’t run

On the streets, they try to beat us like a drum

In Cincinnati, another brother hung

A guinea won’t see the sun

with his family stung

They want us to hold justice

but you handed me none

The same they did to Kobe and Michael Jackson

make them the main attraction

Turn around and attack them

Black gem in the rough

You’re rugged enough

Use your mind and nine-power, get the government touch

Them boys chat-chat on how him pop gun

I got the black strap to make the cops run

They watching me, I’m watching them

Them d— boys got a lock of c— in them

My people on the block got a lot of pok* in them

and when we roll together

we be rocking them to sleep

No time for that, because there’s things to be done

Stay true to what I do so the youth dream come

from project building

Seeing a fiend being hung

With that happening, why they messing with Saddam?

Burn a Bush cos’ for peace he no push no button

Killing over oil and grease

no weapons of destruction

How can we follow a leader when this a corrupt one

The government’s a g-unit and they might buck young black people

Black people In the urban area one

I hold up a peace sign, but I carry a gun.

Peace, y’all.”

Common will perform with Elizabeth Alexander, Aimee Mann, Jill Scott, Kenneth Goldsmith, Alison Knowles, Bill Collins and Rita Dove. Should he be allowed to participate in view of his controversial “poetry?”  Answer by taking the poll.

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