How Alicia Keys went from being my teenage star to a spineless sell-out.
When Alicia Keys came out with her first single ‘Fallin’ in 2001 I was dazzled. Teenagers yearn for role models they can imitate and aspire to and Alicia Keys seemed to be perfectly suited for this. Not only was she different and new and talented and awesome, oh no she was also so much more socially conscious and classy compared to the other pop singers from her era. I naturally became her adoring teenage fan.
I started styling my hair after her first signature cornrow look and a few people telling me that I look like her ( well as much as mixed race people look alike) was like receiving a huge compliment. Every time she gave social commentaries such as ‘gangsta rap was created to convince black people to kill each other‘ I would nod in agreement and think to myself how deep she is. Yes, I thought. Alicia Keys is not one of them, she is not part of the system. She is critical of our society and how marginalized people are being manipulated by those in power.
But then my first doubts of her starting emerging when she went for a married man. Or maybe my enthusiasm just faded because I became an adult and grew out of being any celebrity’s fan. Probably it was a mix of both.
However, when she announced last year she would go to Israel to perform in Tel Aviv I was utterly shocked. And I wasn’t the only one; Alice Walker wrote her a moving open letter where she urged her not to perform in Israel. She also gave her some compelling reasons such as Israel being an Apartheid State, discriminating against non-white Jews and committing human rights violations. Especially since Alicia Keys always had that air of being a proud and confident black woman, aware of the struggle that black women have fought to attain their rights, I would have expected her to be compassionate towards the suffering of other minorities.
It turns out that we were all wrong. Alicia Keys went on to perform in Israel to promote ‘peace and unity‘. It was rather questionable how she was promoting unity since she did not perform for any Palestinians nor mention the existence of any Palestinians living in Israel.
During the last air raid this year Alicia Keys should have had enough time to reconsider her Israel solidarity when the the IDF has been dropping bombs on innocent civilians, including many children. Even her husband Swizz Beatz condemned Israel’s aggression in a Twitter statement after having seen disturbing pictures of dead Palestinian children. These pictures didn’t seem to have touched Alicia Keys in any way. Instead she even went on to express her admiration to Idan Raichel, an Israeli singer who fundraises for the Israeli army and helps the government whitewash their crimes against Palestinians.
I think I can say this was the point where Alicia Keys in my opinion went from being my teenage star to being a spineless sell-out. She is spineless for not standing up against Israeli pressures and a sell-out for bowing down to a racist government that treat people of her color worse than dogs.
I must say that I am not only disappointed in her but also sad. What do you think? Is she just misunderstood or a sell-out?