Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

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Monday, June 06, 2005
Live 8: Black and white and (seeing) red all over...
Here's an interesting one off the emails:

"Live 8 tight-lipped over all-white lineup."

A site called Black Britain is firing up the presses over Live 8 -- Sir Bob Geldoff's Live Aid remix, which features 22 acts raising money to aid Africa. But here's the catch: many of the artists performing in the Hyde Park, London arm of the mega-concert are, how shall we say, mature, several are very popular, but none are Black.

Said the folks at Black Brit:
Ageing rock stars such as Paul McCArtney, Elton John and Madonna will be headlining the London event, which is aimed at putting pressure on G8 leaders to cancel Africa's debts ahead of their summit in Gleneagles, Scotland on July 6th.This has brought further criticism to Bob Geldof’s event that it is being approached from an ‘imperialistic’ mindset, and is failing to include the very people it is being billed as trying to help.Despite Black Britain making several phone calls to LD Communications, which is handling publicity for Live 8, they refused to give an answer to this question.
However, the article does point out that Black artists are going to be a part of the show, including, in the words of another UK site called Megastar, "bonker-boobed diva Mariah Carey, “who has Venezuelan, Irish and African-American ethnicity. Said Black Britain on Sunday:
Elsewhere, black artists performing in other Live 8 concerts around the world include Will Smith and Stevie Wonder in Philadelphia, Lauryn Hill in Berlin and Youssou N’Dour in Paris.
Okay, leaving aside the obvious question of what in God's name Will Smith is doing in the lineup (earth to actor: the "Willennium" is over, mainly in the sense that musically, it never really began ... except for "Summertime" -- that was hot), this seems a little bit nit-picky to me. Yes, it does always seem to be the pale Brits who ride to Africa's rescue every 20 years or so (it must be a Bono thing). And yes, the Euros whip out Youssou N'Dour every time they need a Black African to pal around with (I guess those guys who performed with Paul Simon back in the 80s have retired...). And I understand many people of African descent chaffe under the notion of Africa waiting on the helping hand of "middle aged white millionaires"... but I for one give Geldoff and crew credit for doing something on Africa. It's more than I can say for many other colonialist descendants on both sides of the pond.

Powerline points out today that Geldoff isn't just a guilty, white bleeding heart on Africa, he's a pragmatic guilty white bleeding heart, tying his project to the real need for democratic and economic reform across the continent, but also taking time to note the positive things happening in the sub-Saharan. I'm a little miffed at missing the conference call, but I guess it's my fault for not nosing up to Trippi (I had it on my list).

As a person whose father is native to, and still lives in, the Congo, I have to say on balance, Live 8 is a welcome thing. I'm not ready to quibble over the white people just yet, and I think it's probably a mistake to spend too much time setting up a permanent gripe and nitpick on every, single perceived racial slight... I'm more concerned that the concert will be a bore -- I mean come on, bringing back the Spice Girls??? Why even contemplate that?

Most important, Live 8 is providing the most media attention Africa has received since Bill Clinton's big visit in 1998 (just before Linda Tripp's broomstick bumped him on the head). Let's face it -- even active genocide in Darfur hasn't gotten the U.S. media (with the notable exception of NYT's Nicholas Kristoff) interested in Africa. Nor has rampant death from AIDS, and a mysterious Ebola-like virus that has killed hundreds of people in a fell swoop. If it takes Bob Geldoff and his aging, white rock stars (plus Will Smith and Mariah's tacky knockers) to get the American media to focus, even for a day or two, on the parts of the African continent not directly tied to marketing the neocon "war on terror / democracy on the march" storyline, I'll take it.
posted by JReid @ 11:44 PM  
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