Target: Musical artist Stevie Wonder
Goal: Applaud Stevie Wonder’s decision to boycott states with racist laws
Musical Artist Stevie Wonder recently announced that he will not be playing any shows in states that have “Stand Your Ground” laws. His announcement corresponds to his belief that “Stand Your Ground” laws legalize a form of racism.
Wonder’s announcement came shortly after the verdict of the George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin case was released. Zimmerman, on trial for shooting and killing adolescent Trayvon Martin, was acquitted on the basis of self-defense, particularly because of the “Stand Your Ground” law that exists in Florida.
“Stand Your Ground” laws allow an individual to use various types of force (even lethal) if there is reasonable belief of threat. These laws attempt to justify violence through self-defense. However, these laws have become very controversial and are often called “shoot first” laws by those who critique it, as the shooter is often able to cite self-defense as his reason for shooting and the victim is not alive to testify against this claim. In theory, the law protects individuals who act violently out of fear, but in practice it creates cases that are very difficult to prosecute. According to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, individuals using self-defense as their justification for violence tripled after the “Stand Your Ground” law was implemented.
The law has also been criticized because of the racial underpinnings associated with the need for self defense. In the case of the Zimmerman trial, many believe that Zimmerman targeted Martin based on his race, as Martin was unarmed and not acting suspiciously. With this type of “shoot first” law, individuals who are judged based on assumptions about their race are not protected under the law.
Stevie Wonder agrees with the critics of “Stand Your Ground” laws, announcing that he will no longer be performing in Florida or any other state that has the same or similar laws until those laws are abolished. Wonder’s announcement is an act of solidarity with those who have been unfairly judged because of their ethnic background and do not feel safe in their own state, as well as specifically with Trayvon Martin, a young man whose killer may not have been acquitted had a “Stand Your Ground” law not been in place in Florida.
By signing the petition below you will be supporting Stevie Wonder’s initiative to boycott states with racist “Stand Your Ground” laws.
Dear Stevie Wonder,
“Stand Your Ground” laws have proven to be very controversial across the United States, particularly because many believe they allow for a “shoot first” philosophy that disproportionately affects individuals of color.
I am writing you to praise you for your decision to boycott states that have “Stand Your Ground” laws. By not performing in these states, you are making a bold and important statement against laws with racist underpinnings, while supporting those who have been negatively affected by these policies. I am very impressed by your dedication to justice, as evidenced both by your current stand against racist policies as well as past decisions not to perform when you felt that the circumstances were unjust.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Antonio Cruz/ABr via Wikimedia Commons