This week, the United States of America will celebrate Thanksgiving – a chance for many hard-working Americans to meet up and relax. Large helpings of turkey, pumpkin pie and potato casserole beckons amongst other things. Indeed, before the festivities on Thursday, two turkeys are due to be pardoned by President Joe Biden later today.
Those switching on the TV will be treated to the annual Thanksgiving Day parades, broadcasting from all corners of the USA. This year, one of the largest will be beamed live to tens of millions of Americans and syndicated to over 180 countries from the Michigan city of Detroit. And Ears To The House warmly welcomes such an event, which will bring money and attention to the city during a difficult time for the economy.
But we do have a problem with one of the floats planned for Thursday. We understand a float will appear dedicated to the so-called Belleville Three – Kevin Saunderson, Juan Atkins and Derrick May. Let us not forget that Derrick May is a man accused of multiple allegations of sexual abuse from multiple sources – allegations which he has never categorically denied.
Many people in Detroit are likely to be unaware of this. None of these allegations have ever been reported in the city’s news outlets, despite journalists having been aware of them for at least two years. Yet mostly British media outlets, who are far more at risk of libel suits than their American counterparts, openly reported harrowing accounts of May’s alleged behaviour over many years.
Yes, Detroit is absolutely right to celebrate the music which makes much of the city’s heritage. But this should not be what Blake Baxter recently called “the Belleville Three fairytale” – a story debunked in recent years as mostly untrue, yet clung onto for dear life by those who would prefer the truth wasn’t heard.
For Derrick May to represent Detroit on any level right now is highly inappropriate. Putting aside the numerous sexual assault and rape allegations made against him for a moment, let us also consider his views on the city he calls home. Ears To The House can only apologise for the very strong language in this video, but this was the coarse, degrading language he when speaking to a journalist about Detroit back in 2001…
What sponsor or advertiser in their right mind would want to be associated with a man who says he’d like to “f*** [Detroit] in your ass”? So we decided on Friday to contact Gardner-White Furniture Company Inc – the chief sponsors of Detroit’s Thanksgiving parade this week – to ask them.
We pinpointed them to this video and gave brief details of the allegations made against Derrick May over the past two to three years. As of this Monday morning, Gardner-White have not responded. Over the weekend, we also reached out to the Parade Company, Pet Supplies Plus, Ford Motor Company, The Skillman Foundation, DTE Energy, and C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital for comment.
None has so far responded. We will let you know if they do – and over the course of today, we will also be contacting a number of others appearing at the parade to see whether they’re happy to share a stage with May. And we are, of course, not the only ones making enquiries – Michael James has been asking questions too.
There are also some wider questions on how on earth this situation was allowed to happen in the first place – but right now, the question is whether the organisers have the courage to do the right thing…