As the anti-immigrant fever spreads, which side will blacks be on?
Black musicians have a history of challenging oppression. From Billie Holiday singing about lynching to Marvin Gaye criticizing war and Public Enemy telling us to “fight the power,” African American performers have spoken up against injustice. So, how come more blacks haven’t signed up for Sound Strike, the musicians’ boycott against Arizona?
Performers participating in the strike have agreed not to play in Arizona until the state rescinds its new law to crackdown on illegal immigration. That’s because critics of SB 1070, scheduled to go into effect July 29, say the law will lead to racial profiling and harassment of anyone with brown skin. Seems like a problem African Americans can relate to, no? But just three famous “urban” recording artists have signed up for Sound Strike: Kanye West, Chris Rock (hey, comedians cut albums, too) and The Coup. Altogether, about 200 artists are participating in the boycott.
So, what’s the deal? Do contemporary black musicians fear that expressing their political views will alienate fans? Seriously, Kanye has yet to live down his “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” remark. Or is something else to blame for the low black turnout in Sound Strike? Perhaps African Americans have neglected to sign up for the boycott because they approve of SB 1070.