Nigerian pop star Wizkid has been revealed as one of the performers for this summer’s upcoming Essence Music Festival which takes place in June, and I think that it is terrible news. Let me get this. A man who, just some days ago, clearly and openly threatened physical violence against a woman, will now perform for a brand that serves exclusively Black women?
Here is how Essence describes its own brand:
“ABOUT ESSENCE COMMUNICATIONS INC.
The ESSENCE Brand—Where Black Women Come First
ESSENCE is Where Black Women Come First for news, entertainment and motivation. ESSENCE occupies a special place in the hearts of millions of Black women-its not just a magazine but her most trusted confidante, a brand that has revolutionized the magazine industry and has become a cultural institution in the African-American community. Founded in 1968, Essence Communications Inc. (ECI) launched ESSENCE, the ground-breaking magazine created exclusively for African-American women in 1970. For 42 years, the company has flourished and expanded beyond the pages of its flagship magazine to generate brand extensions such as the Essence Music Festival, Women Who Are Shaping the World Leadership Summit, Window on Our Women (WOW I, II & III) and Smart Beauty I, II & III consumer insights, the Essence Book Club, Essence.com, and ventures in digital media (mobile, television and VOD) via Essence Studios. The ECI corporate headquarters are in New York City, with offices in Chicago, Los Angeles and Detroit.”
Black women come first for news, entertainment and motivation. So how will Wizkid performing for Essence make women feel good about themselves? Worse he will be paid as a result of revenue generated directly from Black women? The same kind of women he just openly threatened physical assault and is yet to issue an apology for? Is something seriously wrong with this picture or what?
Essence Music Festival and Ms. Susan Taylor, it appears you are unaware of the recent and open threat of physical assault by Wizkid against a woman, celebrity blogger Linda Ikeji. Not only was this threat very ugly to make, it is criminal to do so both under U.S. and Nigerian law. Wizkid is yet to issue an apology for the threat which I considered a threat against women in general, especially Black/African women. There is indeed nothing that prevents him from doing so. He is his own label owner.
As we all know, the Essence brand stands for the empowerment of Black women. You should not let an artist who is unequivocally clear about his intention to physically cause harm on a woman benefit from a brand that serves and is all about women. It is simply contradictory.
Wizkid should issue an open apology and if he doesn’t, brands that particularly serve women and U.S. brands should disassociate themselves from him. He is free to earn his living by making music through his record label and selling his musical works. But he should not be fed by the same women he threatens physical violence on. It is one thing to be extremely disrespectful to women which Wizkid has a history of doing. It is another thing to threaten violence.
Sadly and unfortunately, the reality of many African women is that they are afraid to speak up against situations like Wizkid’s because often they are victims of violence and accept the status quo. Brands like Essence can speak up and stand against such threats, especially where the person making the threat is seeking monetary gains from Essence or similarly situated brands.Essence and Susan Taylor do the right thing. Wizkid SHOULD NOT be performing at your festival absent a clear and open apology to Ikeji and women in general over his remarks.
Please read my full article on Wizkid’s threat of physical violence on a woman here.
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Credited for several firsts in the fashion and entertainment industry, Ms. Uduak is also a Partner and Co-Founder of Ebitu Law Group, P.C. where she handles her law firm’s intellectual property law, media, business, fashion, and entertainment law practice areas. She has litigated a wide variety of cases in California courts and handled a variety of entertainment deals for clients in the USA, Africa, and Asia. Her work and contributions to the creative industry have been recognized by numerous organizations including the National Bar Association, The American University School of Law and featured in prestigious legal publications in the USA including ABA Journal and The California Lawyer Magazine.
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