In one of the most interesting “What the hayell” moments in recent memory, the NAACP Detroit branch has announced that they plan to give singer Kid Rock an award at their annual Great Expectations Dinner, which typically draws 10,000 participants. The dinner is going to be held on May 1, and if recent protests are an indicator, there won’t be 10,000 people in the audience ready to celebrate.
The reason that people are up in arms is because Kid Rock has often used the Confederate Flag as part of his routine on stage. The singer has argued that the flag stands as a symbol of southern rock and roll, but many protesters don’t quite see it that way. But in contrast to the flood of criticism the organization is receiving over the decision, the chapter leadership is going to move forward.
“Kid Rock … has consistently lifted up the Great Expectations of many persons … concerning the future of the city,” said Donnell R. White, interim executive director of the Detroit Branch NAACP.
If anyone ever wants to understand why so many in the black community have lost faith in certain elements of the NAACP, you need to look no further than Detroit. It would seem to me that the great city of Detroit would have heroes in its community who DON’T carry around the Confederate flag during their performances. The Confederate flag, for African Americans, stands as a symbol that is no less tragic than the Swastika for Jewish Americans. This flag is the calling card of those who’ve longed for the days in which black people were raped, beaten, hanged, castrated, burned alive, had their families torn apart, and were forced into involuntary servitude. It’s one thing for the NAACP to remain quiet about Kid Rock’s use of one of the most traumatic symbols in American history, but quite another for them to step up and give him an award for it. Yes, my friends, this certainly makes me sick.
I can’t help but wonder if this award is somehow linked to money. There is no other rationale I can come up with for such a confusing move by one of our most storied civil rights organizations. One also cannot disconnect this incident from the national NAACP’s decision to take money from Wells Fargo, the bank that is accused of taking the homes of hundreds of thousands of black folks across America through predatory lending. In both cases, our community’s continuous fixation on money over character leads us to throw away our chance at true liberation. The biggest mistake that black people have made thus far in America is that we’ve come to depend on others to get the things that we need the most. We are also unwilling to engage in the serious introspection necessary to help us realize that you can’t take money from just anyone without sometimes selling a piece of your soul in the process.
None of us knows for sure if money is part of the motivation behind the decision of the NAACP to honor someone who loves the Confederate flag. It may also be the case that the local chapter is so enamored with Kid Rock’s fame that they are among the legions of us who think that being famous overrides even the most serious character flaws (remember when BET gave R. Kelly an award right after he was accused of having sex with young girls?). Either way, honoring Kid Rock at an NAACP event is beyond insulting, and Detroit residents should certainly make their voices heard on this issue.