It’s settled. Bruce Springsteen may be a great performer and a progressive thinker. But he is not a community organizer.
One of the first tenets of community organizing is that identification of the problem and solutions must be developed by the people who are impacted - by the community. I dare say that Bruce Springsteen neglected to consult with North Carolina’s LGBT community, much less the wider progressive community, when he decided to boycott our state in protest of HB 2.
His heart may be in the right place. But when he pulled his show and inspired a whole raft of fellow boycotters, he fell into a trap. It’s the same trap that Bernie Sanders has fallen into: the South is not worth the effort. We can write them off and focus on more enlightened parts of the country.
The fact is that the South is worth the effort. Here in NC we know that there is a strong, and growing, progressive movement. There are signs everywhere, including 1000 Moral Monday arrestees. Progressive North Carolinians know that our problem is jerry rigged voting districts and we are fighting everywhere we can to change that.
We also know that if progressives do not take back our state house and the governor”s mansion, all attempts to make progress at the federal level will fail. We just need to look at what happened with Obamacare and Medicaid expansion to see the importance of state elections.
If Springsteen and the other boycotters had asked us, we might well have suggested a boycott of the state. And think how powerful that would have been. Just imagine if North Carolina LGBT activists had led a call for a national boycott of our state, followed by Springsteen cancelling his concert. That would have had so much more power than Springsteen acting in isolation.
On the other hand, we might have suggested that the show go on. We might have asked him to encourage concert goers to support LGBT groups in the state. Or, we might have asked him to make the connection that HB2 is not just about LGBT rights, but about voting rights, women’s rights, workers' rights, immigrant rights, civil rights. We might have asked him to publicize a way for people to give to support the excellent LGBT and other progressive work going on in our state. Or to encourage people to vote. We might even have asked him to donate the proceeds of the concert for our work.
Either way, if he had asked, we would be further along on the arc of the moral universe, instead of just bummed out that we can’t hear his great rock and roll.