*Kid Rock – the white, Detroit rapper-turned-redneck rocker – was chosen as the opening act for a new sports arena in the predominantly black city, and the selection has caused some outrage.
The artist, who has been lauded for his philanthropy and support of Detroit, was chosen by Olympia Entertainment to open the new Little Caesars Arena with concerts next week. But his recent expletive-laced criticism of Colin Kaepernick, his proud embrace of the Confederate flag and unabashed support for Donald Trump have prompted at least one local civil rights organization to plan a protest and call for the concerts to be scrapped.
Kid Rock, who is from the Detroit suburbs and proudly claims the city as his home, has six concerts scheduled at the $860 million, 20,000-seat arena, starting Tuesday — a move that Peter Hammer, director of the Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights at Detroit’s Wayne State University, called “incredibly tone deaf.”
“Everything is different post-Charlottesville,” Hammer said, referring to the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Aug. 12 that resulted in the death of one counter-protester and injuries to many more.
“These are moments where you have to act as a matter of character and state what your values are,” Hammer added. “Everything now is becoming symbolic. That means we have to choose our symbols carefully.”
The arena will be the new home for the NHL’s Red Wings and the NBA’s Pistons. It’s owned by Detroit’s Downtown Development Authority and is managed by Olympia Entertainment, which is owned by Ilitch Holdings.
“While I can’t control what any artist does or says, I can guide our businesses to continue bringing life-changing opportunities to people in our community,” Ilitch Holdings President and CEO Christopher Ilitch said in response to questions about the choice of Kid Rock to open the arena. “I will always demand that our companies strive to do right by Detroit, our community and its people.”
The request to cancel Kid Rock’s concerts came from the National Action Network’s Detroit chapter, which plans a protest next week. The group has previously criticized Kid Rock for has displaying the Confederate flag at concerts.
“This is the straw that broke the camel’s back,” said the Rev. Charles Williams II, president of the network’s Detroit chapter. “When you hire Kid Rock, who is known to be dog-whistling and cat-calling to white supremacist organizations and the white supremacist community, alt-right, whatever you want to call them, and you take our tax dollars to do that? That’s wrong.”
During a concert last month in Iowa, Kid Rock told fans that “football’s about ready to start,” then went on to say, “You know what? F*** Colin Kaepernick,” the Des Moines Register reported.