Grammy Award-winning singer Esperanza Spaulding has a new video out called “We Are America” in which she urges Congress to close Guantanamo. In an interview with the ACLU, she credited the recent Guantanamo Bay inmate hunger strikes as a moment that inspired her to use her platform to make a political statement.
What motivated you to start this whole project to begin with, what was the spark?
It was the first time I heard about the hunger strike. I was touring in Europe and I was appalled and embarrassed about what was happening. I remember I started researching online to see what I could do about it and I saw that I could download this action pack. With that you had some important info to use to call your representative. And I did, I did call my representative and Senators. In fact, I got a letter back from one Senator who basically said that she was not going to proactively deal with it but that they would ‘keep my comments in mind’, or something like that. But I really wanted to do more. And my band actually came to me first and said they wanted to do something too.
Earlier this year, rapper Yasiin Bey (fka Mos Def) released a video that brought attention to the practice of force-feeding inmates who had gone on hunger strike.