Stevie Wonder recently announced that due to the verdict in the Zimmerman trial, he will no longer be performing in Florida, or any other state, that has a “stand your ground” law.
Michigan, for example, has a stand your ground law. As does Louisiana. No concerts in Motown or New Orleans? Even California’s self-defense laws fall under stand your ground, as do the laws in Nevada. No concerts in Beverly Hills or Vegas. Does anyone think that will happen?
Here’s the full list of states where Stevie Wonder won’t be singing.
Slate’s Jack Hamilton thinks Wonder’s boycott will make a difference, but his analysis is flawed.
For one, Hamilton only writes about Wonder boycotting Florida, while Wonder specifically said anywhere (including internationally):
On Sunday night, Stevie Wonder—a black American musician who sold some records in his day—declared that he would not perform in Florida until the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law is abolished.
And two, Hamilton needs other stars to follow Wonder’s lead:
While Stevie Wonder’s boycott of an entire state might have exerted real pressure in, say, 1976, in 2013 it’s almost entirely a symbolic act. But symbolic acts are often the first step toward kicking off concrete ones, and we should imagine what would happen if likeminded artists followed suit. Beyoncé in 2013 might not be Stevie Wonder in ’76 but she’s not far behind, and her husband is said to be a figure of some renown. Rihanna’s 8.4 million Instagram followers felt her outrage on Sunday, and some of them must live in Florida; Miley Cyrus, who tweeted a memorial late Saturday night, has been recently embroiled in her own racial controversy and might want to put her money where her mouth is, so to speak. Questlove, who wrote about the Zimmerman verdict with characteristic eloquence, is one of the most ubiquitous and respected figures in contemporary music, and would surely make some phone calls. If these artists were to join in Wonder’s boycott, the bottom lines of club promoters and festival organizers and concert arenas would start to look different in a hurry.
Will other stars embrace Wonder’s boycott? Who knows. Maybe Hamilton can give superstar J-Lo a call and ask of her plans, that is, if he can reach her between million-dollar gigs for crooks and dictators.
And good luck finding a decent hip-hop show in Florida. Young Jeezy, Rick Ross, Ghostface Killah, Big Boi, Q-Tip, Ace Hood, Mac Miller, Nicki Minaj, Flo Rida, and Chuck D are just a few names who’ve expressed sorrow and consternation at the Zimmerman verdict.
It just so happens there’s a gigantic hip-hop festival in Miami every Memorial Day called “Urban Beach Week” that draws 200,000 to 300,000 African-Americans from around the country. Plans are well underway for the 2014 event.
If people want to talk of boycotts, let’s get serious and hear somebody call for a boycott of this. I’ll eagerly await a response.