advocacy, activism and philanthropy

Why The Black Madonna won’t be at Amazon-sponsored Intersect Festival

DJ, producer and musician Marea Stamper, 42, who is professionally known as The Black Madonna, will not participate at the Intersect Festival. Headlined by the Foo Fighters and singer-songwriter Kacey Musgraves, 31, the music event will take place at the Las Vegas Festival Grounds in Las Vegas, Nevada, United States from December 6-7, 2019.

Amazon Web Services, the Amazon cloud computing subsidiary putting on the Intersect Festival, has business ties with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security of the United States. This is in conflict with what The Black Madonna has been advocating for.

The Black Madonna is a Help Refugees ambassador. Here is a statement from the DJ about the Intersect Festival:

“I will not be performing at Intersect Festival due to their relationship with Amazon Web Services who have business ties with ICE and Homeland Security.

The event proposed to me initially was framed as and arts and technology weekender with other artists I deeply respected and with well known and respected production teams. It presented no cause for concern. I was not approached by employees of Amazon. I was never formally or informally advised of any Amazon branding. The offer I accepted did not propose any kind of brand partnership. I am profoundly disappointed that anyone, at any level, in the long chain of people between the offer I saw and the eventual promotion of this event presumed I would. My contract intentionally prohibits that my name or likeness be connected in any way with any form of sponsorship endorsement of any kind including but not limited to commercial and/or political endorsements, without the prior written agreement of myself.

Clearly, I was shocked and hurt when press and promotional materials appeared with my name on an event presented by AWS yesterday. Many of you expressed your disappointment too and you were right to do so. I share it completely and amplify it.

This issue is not just ideological for me, it is a moral and ethical transgression against my work, my faith and most importantly the people I stand with. As a global ambassador for the Help Refugees organization, I raise awareness and donate 100% of my merchandise sales to refugee assistance and personally provide grants to undocumented families fleeing persecution in their home countries.

I am in total solidarity with the demonstrators, workers, other tech laborers, and immigrants and all people of conscience in calling for and end to corporate digital collaboration with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Department of Homeland Security.

In our personal and professional lives we all navigate contradictions and unclear lines in a world that makes it very hard to do the right thing. This is especially true in the arts, where independent workers often depend on relationships with brands to pay the bills. I am in a position to say that I will not agree to perform at an AWS branded event. I know that position isn’t an option for all artists. Respect to all of you, in any case.

I was looking forward to the show and I am sorry that I won’t be able to be with all of you for this one. But we will meet again on a dancefloor soon. And in the meanwhile I encourage each one of you reading this to visit the following organizations and learn more about how you can help people living without documents and seeking asylum and human rights around the world.”

Meanwhile, here is The Black Madonna’s set at the Creamfields 2019:

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