Commentary: Thanks, But No Thanks Sinead!

Commentary: Thanks, But No Thanks Sinead!

In her open letter to the Black community, Sinead O'Connor writes what she think is a rebuke to oppressive thinking. But why is it not directed toward the bigot she supposedly addresses?

Published March 26, 2012

(Photo: Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)

When you look up the term “loose cannon,” you might see a picture of Sinead O’Connor, the late-'80s rocker from Ireland. So when I read her open letter to the Black community following the Trayvon Martin controversy, I guess I should not have been so surprised at the message she sent.


In the open letter published on her website, O’Connor goes to great lengths to praise the African culture she calls the birthplace of civilization, while rebuking racists who wish harm to Black people. She said, "If you hate Black people, it’s yourself you hate and the mother who bore you. If you kill or wish ill on Black people, its yourself you kill and wish ill on. As well as the mother who bore you.”


I don’t think I’m the only one who finds O’Connor’s words to the Black community to be overly gushing, excessively flattering and borderline patronizing, and her words to the white community to be overly condemning, harsh and unsubstantiated.


I was taken aback wondering what from the injustice we know as the Travyon Martin case would prompt O’Connor to speak in such superlatives about a community with which she has not had a public connection. She writes, “These beautiful people continue to believe in and even manifest Jesus Christ better than you do. That alone could stand as the greatest reason your racism is blasphemy, were it not for all the other reasons.”


But if this is supposed to be a word of rebuke leveled against white America, it’s puzzling why she spends so much doing what so many have done before; telling African Americans how to live their lives. She writes, “You know not how you are adored, appreciated, valued, loved, cried for, smiled for, prayed for, all over the world.” She adds, “When you have self-esteem you can achieve anything. You can stand in the street as many did yesterday and change your country peacefully and with song.”


My question is: Who said that African-Americans don’t have self-esteem? And if they don’t, how is Sinead O’Connor equipped to give it to them since, after all, self-esteem comes from, (wait for it!)…one’s self.  


Why is it becoming so common nowadays for politicians, writers and now singers from other cultures to suddenly turn into Yoda, chock full of pithy sage wisdom to make the lives of Black people better? 


If O’Connor wants to see justice served in the Trayvon Martin case, I’m sure there’s a large segment of the population that shares her point of view. But I for one, think she should put an end to the letter-writing and go back to songwriting instead.


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Written by Andre Showell


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