Should More Music Acts Join Stevie Wonder’s Florida Boycott?

July 18th, 2013

(Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

By Moriba Cummings

Trayvon Martin is dead, George Zimmerman is acquitted and many are unsatisfied with the verdict. In hope of justice, Americans throughout the nation have gathered in the streets of New York City, San Francisco and Atlanta, to name a few, to march in Trayvon’s honor. In addition to these peaceful protests, various celebrities have expressed their distaste for the verdict with Stevie Wonder even going the extra mile and officially announcing that he will never perform in the state of Florida again until the “Stand Your Ground” law is eradicated. In regards to Wonder’s bold and thought-provoking statement, one cannot help but wonder, “Should other celebrities follow suit?”

For those who may not be well versed on the controversial Florida regulation, the Stand Your Ground law legally enables an individual to use deadly force if he or she believes that his or her life is being threatened.

Music legend Stevie Wonder has undoubtedly taken a brave step towards progression after staging this boycott against Trayvon Martin’s home state of Florida. Fueled by the recent acquittal of Martin’s accused murderer and neighborhood vigilante George Zimmerman, the “Isn’t She Lovely” singer is clearly not here for the nonsense.

“I decided today that until the Stand Your Ground law is abolished in Florida, I will never perform there again,” Wonder said with conviction this past weekend during a concert in Quebec City, Canada. “As a matter of fact, wherever I find that law exists, I will not perform in that state or in that part of the world.”

If Wonder sticks to his statement, his concert showings will now be very, VERY selective as there are at least 22 states that include the Stand Your Ground law in some form in their regular legislation, Florida included. These states comprise of Arizona, South Carolina, Ohio, Texas and Georgia, to name a few.

Though no particular celeb has publicly declared his or her definite support for Wonder’s statement, a slew of other high profile figures predominantly musicians have expressed their disgust with the verdict.

From 106 & Park host Bow Wow concluding that the ruling proves that dogs are considered superior to humans (remember Michael Vick?) to Solange Knowles staging a peaceful protest outside of Brooklyn’s Borough Hall, stars aren’t keeping mum about this issue at all. But, besides protests and public rants, should they ultimately follow Stevie Wonder’s lead?

Given the fact that the Stand Your Ground law is still somewhat a recent form of legislation, it is highly unlikely that it will be terminated any time in the near future. Specifically in the case of Florida, and solidifying that this decree that is here to stay and ruffle some feathers for quite some time, the 2012 Statute of the state declares that “a person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force.”

When looked at from the perspective of an artist, the virtuous dilemma of ethics over aesthetics is introduced. In an industry that is eminent for glorifying the phrase “time is money,” 22 states can possibly transcend into 22 possible opportunities that are turned down due to one’s social belief, and hence, 22 checks that go ignored.

Unfortunately, not all artists are as stable and established in their careers as Stevie Wonder currently is, and has rightfully worked to achieve for decades. In the musical and business climate that now exists, it is vastly considered much more difficult to break that glass ceiling to reach ultimate career success and self-actualization.

While it may be considered a commendable gesture for these artists of today to cancel their already sparse gigs in support of Wonder’s request, it may not be the most affluent and logically sound idea as establishing a music career in an increasingly disposable industry where one can be easily replaced and forgotten is already hard enough.

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