Social media is in an uproar as the NLF announced Gladys Knight, the “Empress of Soul” as a headliner for the Super Bowl. The news came as a bombshell to those boycotting the NLF, as a disregard for former 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick’s protest against police brutality and his marginalization by the league.
While many criticized Big Boi and Travis Scott, who were also mentioned as performers, Knight is receiving more heat due to her involvement in civil rights. Knight is also a music pioneer who is known for her performances in Soul Train and being apart of Motown.
The Super Bowl is the largest viewed televised event in America and some are of the opinion that Knight has all rights to perform.
“I’m proud to use my voice to unite and represent our country in my hometown of Atlanta,” said the 74-year-old singer.
Her performance can be viewed as a means of inspiring love and unity for the millions of viewers who will be paying attention to the graceful voice of a black woman in a city with many thriving African-Americans.
Legendary comedian and writer, Paul Mooney said in a tweet, “She’s taking that ‘Midnight Train to Georgia’ and y’all salute her simple place and time! Stop being mad at anything and everything. Let us enjoy a legend.”
However, criticism of that stance noted Rihanna’s rejection to perform and the line on Jay Z and Beyonce’s song “Apes**t.”
Jay Z said, “I said no to the Super Bowl, you need me, I don’t need you.”
The reigning sentiment of public opinion seems to be that Knight should use her clout as an iconic artist and support the boycott in order to show a unified stance in which African-Americans can challenge the status quo. But, in a league predominantly dominated by black athletes, how effective is the boycott if most players don’t participate in supporting Kaepernick’s cause? How many athletes think about being pulled over by a white police officer if they were a regular tall and muscular black men?
In his tweet, Paul Mooney asked, “What if she gets on the mic and asked for everyone to kneel? Or ask all the black players to leave the stadium?”
There were moments where performers protested the national anthem while performing it, notably, Jimi Hendrix. Nonetheless, people shouldn’t be quick to cancel such a jewel of the black community.
Members of a community will always have varying ideologies and beliefs. One perceived bad choice by an elder in the community must be criticized with remembrance of their journey and sacrifices, which opened doors for following generations to walk in with their heads high.
Until the mass of critics become actors and do more than lash out on hot topics on social media, this generation will have to first cancel its complacency and commit to a comprehensive plan of action to solve the problems of African-Americans today.
The onus is on the young and capable, because the struggle does not cut any checks; rather it often requires death and Knight knows it better than any of her critics.