The New Dixie Chicks?
On the eve of the Iraq War in 2003, Natalie Maines of the country music band Dixie Chicks told a British concert crowd that the group did not think highly of the United States’ plan to invade Iraq, and that former President George W. Bush made them ashamed that the president hailed from their home state of Texas.
Many people felt the same way that Maines did.
Maines’ encountered problems, however, because many country music fans stereotypically lean to the right politically and often vote Republicans.
Therefore, her statement alienated her fans and led to boycotts of the Dixie Chicks’ music and concerts.
The Dixie Chicks’ radio play began to dwindle significantly.
In 2005, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, rapper Kanye West stated that former President Bush did not care about Black people because of his perceived slow reaction to help the struggling people of New Orleans.
Despite making a similar statement as Maines’, West’s career as a producer and rapper continued to skyrocket.
The reason for the difference in reaction revolves around the different fan bases.
Hip-hop fans stereotypically lean left politically because of their urban roots and vote Democratic.
A boycott of West’s music because of his statements about Bush never seemed likely.
Fast-forward to 2018 and West might become the new Dixie Chicks because of recent controversial statements.
He recently pledged his love and loyalty to President Donald Trump, a commander-in-chief who does not have many fans in the Black community.
Then, he made the colossal mistake of saying that the 400 years of slavery that our ancestors experienced happened by choice, implying that if a race stayed enslaved for four centuries they must have not fought against the institution of slavery.
West’s statement shows his ignorance to history.
But the statement also shows that West is ignorant to who his true fan base is.
Conservatives have begun to praise West for his new found “conservative” views from commentator Candace Owens to Fox News.
The dilemma that West might face with his new found “fans” is whether or not their praise of him will extend past social media likes and retweets.
It is a lot easier to like a tweet than it is to buy a record, concert tickets or overpriced shoes.
Are his new conservative friends willing to put their money where their mouth is?
If so, West’s career should be fine.
But if conservative pundits and supporters do not pay hundreds of dollars for his shoes, and concert tickets, this might be the nail in the coffin concerning his popularity, which is similar to the fate faced by the Dixie Chicks over a decade ago.
Will conservative radio stations start playing West’s music even if their format does not include hip-hop because he might find pushback at urban stations, especially those that are Black owned like Radio One?
Detroit radio station WJBK reported that they will no longer play West’s music because of his slavery comments.
“Why can’t we make a statement? In the small fish that we are, to say, I don’t want to hear Kanye right now. I don’t want to play his music; I don’t want to hear him on our show,” said radio personality Shay Shay.
West said that he loves President Trump, not because he agrees with all of his policies, but because his election proved that anything is possible.
The Chicago born musician said that Trump represented the outsider who speaks his mind, does not conform to the status quo, and despite that still won the presidential election in 2016.
The election gave West hope about his chances in the political world.
But with all due respect, Trump’s election should not have proven to West that anything is possible.
The election of his homeboy from Chicago, former President Barack Obama, should have given him more inspiration, because he has way more in common with President Obama than he has with Trump.
And West is missing one key ingredient that Trump possesses, and that is a lighter skin tone.
A Black American could never behave like Trump and keep a job as a custodian let alone get elected president of the United States.
More importantly, his description of slaves choosing to remain enslaved is hurtful and totally inaccurate.
I suppose that they had the choice to kill themselves, but in many instances suicide and slavery represented the only two options for their lives.
Many probably did not kill themselves for religious reasons and for familial reasons.
Although slaves got separated from their children, many did not get separated.
And killing oneself just would have made it more difficult for their offspring or significant other.
Having a loved one or parent around might have been a slave’s only solace in life.
Furthermore, if all the slaves committed suicide, West and the entire Black American community would not exist today.
Nevertheless, many Africans jumped to their death in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean instead of accepting a life of servitude.
Additionally, many slaves from Denmark Vesey to Nat Turner to Joseph Cinque led or planned slave revolts.
Turner’s revolt led to the killing of many slave masters.
Cinque’s revolt on the Amistad slave ship succeeded in battle and in the courtroom.
And Harriet Tubman helped countless ex-slaves find freedom via the Underground Railroad.
Furthermore, many people have a misunderstanding of why some slaves stayed with their former masters as sharecroppers after emancipation.
This is so because all slave masters were not created equally.
In his book “12 Years a Slave,” Solomon Northup wrote that some slave owners treated their slaves better than others because they knew that if they did not beat their slaves to a bloody pulp, then they could get more work out of them.
Additionally, Northup said some slave masters thought slavery was morally despicable, but had to have slaves to keep up economically and because slavery was the way of the world.
Who knows, West’s outrageous comments might just be a publicity stunt to hype his new album.
Regardless, West made a huge mistake in a career full of gaffes.
When a star alienates their fan base to please people who never were their fans, that star might just lose everything.
It happened to the Dixie Chicks.
It could happen to West too.