Bruce Springsteen Takes a Stand

Two months back, I railed against the cost of The River tour and thought Springsteen needed to rethink who his audience was and the message he was sending to them. This month, I’m here to praise Springsteen and a number of other companies and individuals who have shown North Carolina’s legislators the price that will be paid since passing HB2.

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Springsteen receiving congratulations from President Obama during Kennedy Center Honors

HB2, known as the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act, ostensibly discriminates against the LGBTQ community, most especially those who are transgender. Known colloquially as “the bathroom bill,” it was approved by North Carolina’s General Assembly and signed into law by NC Governor Pat McCrory in one single day.

Springsteen and the E Street Band made the decision to pull out of their Greensboro, NC date in lieu of this new legislation. Springsteen’s most important point, I think, about HB2 is his declaration: “Some things are more important than a rock show and this fight against prejudice and bigotry — which is happening as I write — is one of them. It is the strongest means I have for raising my voice in opposition to those who continue to push us backwards instead of forwards.” He’s right. Taking a stand against prejudice and civil rights discrimination is of paramount importance. Waiting is not an option. Other states have bills lined up that will be at least as discriminatory as HB2.

Springsteen isn’t the only who has shown North Carolina and other state legislators who are putting together similar bills that this bill is nothing more than blatant discrimination. In addition to Springsteen’s cancellation, four conferences have pulled out of North Carolina as a site venue, Lionsgate has moved its Hulu series Crushed from Charlotte to British Columbia (yes, Canada), and PayPal has withdrawn its plans for creating an expansion in Charlotte.Springsteen and these companies are showing consistency in their responses to hate speech and legislation. Economics may force North Carolina to do the right thing, but that won’t change the bigoted attitudes of people like Governor McCrory. For that, we need education.

In my literature courses at University of Rhode Island, I often show Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Tedtalk: “The Danger of the Single Story.” I teach multiethnic literature and I want students to know how the dominant lens is not the “best” or “only” interpretation of a piece of writing, film, art, music, or community. Adichie’s talk opens them to the possibility of observing their own biases and also discussing the ways in which they have been (or have seen others) marginalized. It’s a good beginning before we tackle texts like Adichie’s Americanah, Kamila Shamsie’s Burnt Shadows, or Daisy Hernandez’s A Cup of Water Under My Bed, global narratives challenging their view of the United States on macro and micro levels. I am not trying to change my students; I only want to offer them a more inclusive, expansive way of looking at and being part of community. Springsteen wasn’t trying to change anyone with his decision; he simply understands how his choice has the power to affect others to look deeper at the implications of their prejudice and ignorance.

Here is Bruce’s full statement.

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