Minneapolis-born, New York-based jazz and soul artist José James has been on the road constantly this year, having just released his Blue Note debut, No Beginning No End, to glowing reviews. But today, James announced that there is one place that won’t be seeing him anytime soon.
As the country continues to discuss the sociopolitical implications of the “not guilty” verdict in George Zimmerman’s murder trial, James announced that he will be canceling his shows in Florida, the state where the trial was held and where Zimmerman shot and killed an unarmed 17-year-old, Trayvon Martin.
Along with the announcement, James took the opportunity to reveal a very personal, traumatic experience from his own childhood in Minneapolis.
From José’s Facebook page:
When I was Trayvon’s age I was brutally assaulted by a white man in broad daylight walking on the street I grew up on in Minneapolis.. He provoked me verbally, then jumped out of his car as I walked past + strangled me. I was 14 actually, about to enter high school.. I was assaulted in full view of half a dozen others, all white people, who just watched. In front of my old corner store.. Including the guy who used to babysit me, who was working in the store.. He beat me + no one helped or said a word. This guy was like 3x my size + only stopped when his girlfriend said “all right! You’re bigger than him! Lets go!” Because he was choking me to death.
As I walked away in pain, in shame, helpless, my mom + her boyfriend drove past. We chased the car, got the license plate #.. We lost them on the freeway.. We filed a police report + an officer came to our house 3 hours later. The officer interviewed me, then told me it was my fault for provoking him + that I needed to “watch out” in the future.
End of story.
I love my fans but I am canceling all my shows in Florida
For more on José James and his Minnesota roots, revisit an interview with him from earlier this year.