On Saturday, while speaking at the North Minneapolis Conference on Peace, musical legend Stevie Wonder delivered a blunt message to those in the Black Lives Matter movement.
“It is in your hands to stop all the killing and all the shooting wherever it might be,” Wonder told conference-goers. “Because you cannot say, ‘Black Lives Matter’ and then kill yourselves.”
“We’ve mattered long before it was said, but the way we show that we matter; the way that we show that all the various people of color matter, is by loving each other and doing something about it, not just talking about it,” the musical talent continued.
According to Billboard, Wonder would later add: “The first thing you must do is stop believing the fallacy of you not being important,” he said. “Because it is completely unacceptable for one to hate themselves so much that anyone that looks like you, you want to kill.”
Though Wonder’s remarks were rather critical of the movement, the musician has been a longtime advocate for civil rights and has even previously expressed his support for the Black Lives Matter movement. But that didn’t stop those deeply entrenched in identity politics to blast Wonder for his comments.
The Root’s Yesha Callahan scolded Wonder for his apparent betrayal, accusing him of taking “a line out of the ‘All Lives Matter’ playbook when he went all ‘You black people kill each other.’”
(Yes, saying “All Lives Matter” is a hateful statement in 2017.)
“The black-on-black-crime trope that people love to throw out there when talking about the Black Lives Matter movement is such low-hanging fruit and grasping at straws,” complained Callahan. “But it doesn’t shock me one bit that it’s the only thing a celebrity can say when trying to discuss systemic racism and the problematic law-enforcement and judicial systems that have people yelling ‘Black Lives Matter’ to begin with.”
Looking to do some damage-control for the movement, the Black Lives Matter capitalist who consistently complains about capitalism, DeRay Mckesson, posted a photo with Wonder on Twitter, assuring the world the icon told him “he was taken out of context” and “does support” the movement.
I met Stevie Wonder tonight & asked him about his recent comment re: the movement. He noted that he was taken out of context & does support. pic.twitter.com/WGH0QRrVpO
— deray mckesson (@deray) June 22, 2017
As noted by Slate, Wonder has a long rap-sheet of advocating equality, especially via his music:
Wonder’s hit singles “Higher Ground,” “Living for the City,” and “You Haven’t Done Nothing” railed against racism, poverty, and injustice, all from the top of the charts. His 1976 magnum opus, Songs In The Key of Life, was a concept album on the subject of human improvement and human empathy. Songs like “Village Ghetto Land” and “Pastime Paradise” portrayed a world in need of urgent correction; “Love’s In Need of Love Today,” “Black Man,” and the incredible “Sir Duke” offered compelling ways to start correcting it. In the 1980s, Wonder was the musical spearhead of the campaign to make Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday a federal holiday, and lent his talents to USA for Africa and the American Foundation for AIDS Research.