The Detroit chapter of Al Sharpton’s National Action Network (NAN) is calling for the cancelation of six of rap rocker Kid Rock’s concerts set to open the newly finished, $860 million Little Caesars Arena, home to the NHL’s Red Wings and NBA’s Pistons.
Kid Rock, whose real name is James Robert Richie, is making people sweat these days. It’s rumored he may run for Senate to represent his birth state of Michigan. That has folks like Sen. Elizabeth Warren very nervous, because he's actually polling pretty well. She recently told colleagues to not write it off as ridiculous, seeing as they thought the same thing about Donald Trump. Wednesday night at a warm-up show, Richie gave what the media is calling his first stump speech, in which he criticized “deadbeat dads” and anyone taking a knee during the national anthem, echoing previous criticisms of former San Francisco 49er Colin Kaepernick. He also lambasted the Black Lives Matter movement and anyone who calls him politically incorrect. He had a very colorful message chastising neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan, as well. "Hail to the Chief" played for extra flare before he gave that speech. That really drove them nuts.
But in the eyes of black activists, Kid Rock is all about white supremacy and his career needs to take a dive. The president of the Detroit chapter of NAN, Rev. Charles Williams II, is planning a protest ahead of Rock’s shows and wants the shows canceled. Black leaders don't like that the performer uses a Confederate flag as a backdrop on stage.
“This is the straw that broke the camel's back," Williams said. "When you hire Kid Rock, who is known to be dog-whistling and cat-calling to white supremacist organizations and the white supremacist community, alt-right, whatever you want to call them, and you take our tax dollars to do that? That's wrong."
Six years ago, Detroit’s NAACP handed Kid Rock an award for his philanthropy in the majority-black communities around Detroit. When he received the award, he told the crowd, “I love America, I love Detroit, and I love black people." That same night, he announced a $50,000 donation to recreation centers around the city and assured them, “I’ve never flown that flag with any hate in my heart. Not one ounce.”
But those words fall on deaf ears. Peter Hammer, the director for a Detroit civil rights group at Wayne State University said, “Everything is different post-Charlottesville.” He called Kid Rock’s concerts at the Little Caesars Arena “incredibly tone deaf.”
"These are moments where you have to act as a matter of character and state what your values are," Hammer said. "Everything now is becoming symbolic. That means we have to choose our symbols carefully."
And those symbols can’t include anyone who supports Donald Trump and enjoys freedom of speech, as Kid Rock does.