Stevie Wonder Disgraces Himself with Concert for Israeli Military
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
“One of Black America’s most beloved artists has signed, sealed and delivered his vast talents in service to the murderous military of a racist, criminal regime.”
Say it ain’t so, Stevie Wonder. The music superstar is lending his name and talents to one of the most unworthy causes in the world: a salute to the Israeli Defense Forces, in Los Angeles, on December 6. Stevie Wonder will help raise millions for an Israeli war machine that is already funded by U.S. taxpayers to the tune of billions of dollars a year. It is a shame and a disgrace that one of Black America’s most beloved artists has signed, sealed and delivered his vast talents in service to the murderous military of a racist, criminal regime. It’s an even bigger shame that there will likely be no punishment for Stevie Wonder from his many fans, in this, the Age of Obama.
Even a generation ago, in the 1980s, Stevie Wonder could not have expected immunity from mass condemnation for helping throw a party for a racist government – for any amount of money. Back in 1985, the South African regime tried to blunt the global anti-apartheid movement by inviting American entertainers of all races to perform at Sun City, the white regime’s version of Las Vegas. Sun City was built in Bophuthatswana, a poverty-stricken black bantustan. Lots of U.S. entertainers, including some Black ones, allowed themselves to be bought off by the white regime’s deep pockets. These included Tina Turner, The O’Jays, Dionne Warwick and Ray Charles. Famously, while Blacks outside the Sun City venue loudly protested his appearance, Ray Charles ostentatiously patted his back pocket, signaling that he was all about the money.
Other entertainers came together under the banner of Artists United Against Apartheid, to shame those that sold themselves to racists. Little Steven Van Zandt brought together 50 artists to record “I ain’t gonna play Sun City,” which was also made into an award-winning video. The cast included RUN DMC, Jimmy Cliff, George Clinton, Afrika Bambaataa, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Grandmaster Melle Mel, Bobbie Womack, Kurtis Blow…and those are just some of the Black ones.
“Entertainers came together under the banner of Artists United Against Apartheid, to shame those that sold themselves to racists.”
Funds raised from “I ain’t gonna play Sun City” went to a host of anti-apartheid organizations around the world, including Washington-based TransAfrica and the American Committee on Africa.
Sun City still exists as a tourist attraction in Black-ruled South Africa. The Black population that had been forced out of their homes to make room for the resort were given back title to their land.
Stevie Wonder, himself, recorded a song condemning apartheid. Titled, “It’s Wrong (Apartheid),” the song includes these lyrics directed toward the white leaders of South Africa.
“The pain you cause in God's name
Points only to yourself to blame
For the negative karma you will be receiving…”
By selling his good name and great talents to the Israeli Defense Forces, Stevie Wonder is contributing to Israeli apartheid – a system that some describe as even worse than that practiced by the white South African regime. Decent men and women seek to boycott and isolate Israel and its military, while Stevie Wonder helps it throw a party. In his own words, Stevie is earning himself some very “negative karma.”
For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.