Published May 27, 2015A petition to boycott performances from Portland rock outfit Black Pussy on the grounds of their controversial band name is now gaining momentum here in Canada, with musicians in Winnipeg speaking out about an upcoming show in the city.
Black Pussy are booked to come to Canada this June as part of a fuller North American tour, but they're currently coming under fire over their band name. A petition started earlier in the spring called the act out for their "racist and sexist" name, which the group have said was inspired by the Rolling Stones' "Brown Sugar" single.
A band bio explains that the name suits a "a sex-charged, '70s-influenced, hide-your-daughters-because-they're-coming-to-town rock'n'roll band," while the petition says the song that inspired the moniker "unmistakably refers to raping Black women during slavery."
"This band represents a larger society's consistent disregard for black life and a culture of white supremacy and misogyny towards women, particularly, towards Black women," the petition reads. "Please boycott this group, and any venue that books them."
The petition has already been signed by over 1,700 people, and Winnipeg outfit Black Hearted have now pulled out of their opening slot at the show taking place on June 2 at Winnipeg's Pyramid Cabaret. On Facebook, the band shared the following statement yesterday (May 26):
We have dropped out of the show with Black Pussy. We actually dropped out yesterday. We in Black Hearted do not support disrespectful or offensive material towards anybody. We do not Support or want to be associated with any offensive or disrespectful entities whether it be band or press. We are not sure why CBC included our name in their article about BP since we did drop out of the show yesterday but we are working on getting our name removed from the article.
I want to thank everybody who supports us in our decision to drop off the show. We love you and we will see you soon.
The aforementioned CBC article also includes an interview with Winnipeg musician Noma Sibanda, who said she is "disgusted" by the band name.
"I think it comes down to image and identity in that popular culture — media, music, film — has an influence on the way that we as a society frame our opinions, frame our identities. To say that there's no correlation at all — that there's no connection is just irresponsible," she said. "Just hearing Black Pussy band I'm thinking what the heck? And why?"
Despite the call for a boycott, Sibanda said the band name will still offend many just by existing. She explained, "I go to the Pyramid for shows. I'm leaving my home, and I'm being assaulted. I'm opening my Google to read the news, and I'm being assaulted."
While Black Pussy claim that "Brown Sugar" "directly speaks out against racism," Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger has lamented the slavery narrative found in lines like "Hear him whip the women just around midnight." A Rolling Stone interview from 1995 had him stating "I never would write that song now," and adding that he "would probably censor myself now."
Black Pussy are scheduled to play Winnipeg; Calgary; Equity, AB; Esquimalt, BC; and Vancouver in early June. They had played in Toronto and Ottawa earlier in May.