When Bruce Refuses We Listen
In refusing to perform a concert in Durham, Bruce Springsteen is using age-old techniques to hit where it hurts: in the pocketbook.
When news that North Carolina legislators approved a law that enables discrimination of folks who are gay or transgender, performers, politicians and proprietors jumped on the boycott bandwagon.
Paypal, Deutsche Bank, and several other businesses have taken action to curtail their operations in North Carolina, according to this weeks’ Atlantic.
Springsteen takes a page from Saul Alinsky and Martin Luther King Jr., using soft protest with an economic punch to make a point.
More than 50 years ago–just an hour’s drive from the concert hall that Springsteen eschewed–Black college students protested segregation in the town of Greensboro.
But they didn’t boycott the business at Woolworth: they literally sat in the middle of it.
In 1960 a movement began with a handful of protestors and grew exponentially.
Groups of students and volunteers sat at Woolworth lunch counters, where they were denied service because of their skin color.
The protestors remained seated, defying local laws, and eventually changed policies that discriminated against Black dining guests.
Recent boycotts in North Carolina garnered international attention and it’s likely that lawmakers will bend to overwhelming public support of equal protections, as they were forced to do in 1960.
Meantime, shameful laws in North Carolina and dozens more North American states discriminate against poor and marginalized women: but where are the protests and boycotts? Where is Bruce?
Poor women—white, American Indian, Black, Hispanic, Asian—face discriminatory laws in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas and—yes—North Carolina. And more.
States have enacted laws that create insurmountable barriers—all under the guise of state laws—that prevent poor women from receiving health care, family planning advice, birth control and—if necessary—abortions: all of which are declared legal by the Supreme Court.
Like the North Carolina law that challenges the Supreme Court rulings that prevent discrimination of gays and transgender people, personal beliefs have entered the political fray when it comes to poor women.
At last count 31 states have imposed barriers to legal birth control and legal abortion.
The New York Times’ Linda Greenhouse writes that states ranging from Arkansas to Utah have created laws to prevent poor women access to health care.
Poor women—particularly Blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans—are much less likely to have insurance to pay for birth control.
Greenhouse notes that, regardless of skin color, poor women of any stripe have a higher rate of unplanned pregnancies.
Economic boycotts like the ones that draw attention to illegal discrimination of lesbians, gays and transgendered communities should be extended to poor women, too: particularly those denied legally sanctioned access to health care.
Image created by artist Barbara Kruger from the art history archive