A law professor at Howard taught us about conveyances of land deeds by singing Stevie Wonders, “Sign Sealed Delivered I’m Yours.” For decades couched inside Wonders, music were messages, ugly truths, and teachable moments. He told Oprah in an interview last fall, now circulating on social media, he’s moving to Ghana. Can’t be mad at him when you understand why. He’s tired of it. If he does leave for Ghana, what would he take with him?
Proudly garbed like African royalty, hair cornrowed like Ramses II, Stevie Wonder will forever be our royal treasure no matter where he resides. We know he deserves better, and so do we. Everything Black folks have created in America that is profitable, ingenious, and appropriated as truly American was born out of our African spirit. So it’s understandable why Ghana would be the highest ground to the man who warned us decades ago in his music that “powers keep on lying while people keep on dying.”
Sadly, many will remember the year 2020 as the year of the Black Death. The unabashed killing of unarmed Black people is a gruesome pandemic worse than the coronavirus with the killing of Floyd, Taylor, Arbery, and too many others. Dr. Susan Moore, a Black physician who died in an Indiana hospital battling COVID-19 after complaining of racist medical care days before her death.
Stevie Wonder nailed Black sentiment in America. He spoke for many when he told Oprah, “I don’t wanna see my children’s, children’s children have to say oh please like me, please respect me, please know that I am important, please value me.” Who in their right mind wants their descendants to inherit age-old battles like the ones we have. We owe it to our children’s, children’s children, a chance, in the words of Nina Simone, “to know what it feels like to be free.”
US Legend, Stevie Wonder is set to move to Ghana permanently. pic.twitter.com/kaxsvd9Lqt— Africa Facts Zone (@AfricaFactsZone) February 19, 2021
Wonder fought the good fight against Apartheid in South Africa. He fought the good fight to get Dr. King’s birthday recognized as a national holiday. Happy Birthday is a national anthem at Black birthday parties, a song about peace and love for all. He encouraged other entertainers to use their platforms to speak up about the horrific injustices against African people globally. He’s fought the good fight and made John Lewis “good trouble” for decades. Juxtapose that with today’s musical artists like Kanye, Ice Cube, Lil Wayne, and Fifty Cent, who claim to be Black leaders. They are the antithesis of Stevie Wonder. Never stand up against injustice but quickly claim to represent Black people’s best interest during election time to cash in for selfish, personal, or financial gain.
Ghana stands to gain from having one of its genius children return home with a gigantic suitcase packed with all of the glorious contributions undervalued and underappreciated in America. Let’s unpack that suitcase and the implications of the move to Ghana.
Ghana has marketed a return to Africa movement. It classifies itself as a ‘Pilgrimage Center” for people of African descent throughout the diaspora. Stevie Wonder’s exit to Ghana will help boost its heritage tourism. Heritage tourism in the Deep South, exploiting slavery and the confederacy, is potentially as lucrative as cotton.
For Ghana, this is a huge win. Tourism is its third-largest foreign exchange earner. In this place, Blacks can get a much-needed respite, a dose of pride, and not be exploited by neocolonialism. At least, That’s what Ghana’s former president said.
Stevie Wonder takes with him more than could fit in ten thousand suitcases. Off to Ghana will be decades of award-winning music, compositions, collaborations with other artists, contributions to Motown. All of the artists he inspired and all of the decades of Black art, activism, and creativity he curated in his music will return to the motherland. He leaves with a mega chunk of American culture he helped to shape. Most of all, he leaves with his dignity.
To be Black in America means we are in a perpetual state of grief, grieving, mourning, sadness, and despair. Yes, we have moments of joy. We experience pride. Black resilience is a force of nature. Like a rubber ball smashed against a concrete wall, we bounce back. Can we continue to rebound only to fight the same battles each generation?
Stevie Wonder’s bold move would inspire other Blacks to pack up their dignity, self-respect, and yearning to be part of a community and get off the hamster wheel. In that suitcase would be some of the best athletes, entertainers, teachers, builders, innovators, scientists, lawyers, mathematicians, thinkers, and hardworking, dedicated people who just want to build and be a part of a community. If Blacks do not expatriate, they certainly will take a pilgrimage to Ghana to visit.
Ghana could be a new site to host entertainment and sporting events. For example, Ghana could host its own grand slam tennis tournament appropriately called the Williams Cup in honor of Richard Williams, one of the most successful tennis coaches. He did so much for tennis worldwide. Black tennis stars could play in a stadium in Ghana without the fear of getting chased out by racists shouting “Nigger,” like crowds did the Williams sisters at Indian Wells in California.
That’s a fraction of what would be in Stevie Wonder’s ten thousand suitcases. He would leave behind a confederacy tourism spot where exhibits, statutes, and monuments still breathe, walk, and talk the same old shit they always did.
Alice T. Crowe- Opinion columnist
My passion is correcting the missing pages in our history books. Secrets of the Hollow is my latest film series. The first segment, Last Disintegrated School, the untold story of Thurgood Marshall’s fight to desegregate the Brook School in Hillburn, NY, in 1943. This untold story happened eleven years before Brown v. Board of Education. Infobase distributes Last Disintegrated School. Visit my website for information at www.acroweflyz.com. I am currently editing the revised edition of my book, How to Get Black on Track. Follow me on Twitter.