The War and Treaty Calls Cotton Plant in Dressing Room a 'Safety Issue'


The War and Treaty Detail 'Safety Issue' of Seeing Cotton Plant in Music Festival Dressing Room

War and Treaty.
Jesse Grant/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

When Michael Trotter Jr. and wife Tanya Trotter went to perform at the Coca-Cola Sips & Sounds Music Festival in Austin, Texas, they were greeted by a cotton plant in their dressing room.

“We all know what that means,” Michael told The Hollywood Reporter on Wednesday, July 3. “We all know what that represents in this country to people that look like us. Anger is what I felt. Disrespect is what I felt. Sadness is what I felt.”

Michael and Tanya, 46, who perform as country duo The War and Treaty, did not reveal who left the cotton plant — a symbol of slavery since many Black people were forced to work in cotton fields ahead of emancipation in the United States — in their dressing room. They also performed at the festival as scheduled after the couple, who have been married since 2010, had a conversation with their son, Legend, about the incident.

“When I demanded that we quickly leave this festival and get out of there, Tanya and I had a moment in our hotel room where we wanted to address our son, Legend, who’s 12, and he ended up addressing us,” Michael said. “He said that this is not the time to be quiet about it. He was very upset, and he understood exactly what it meant. He’s homeschooled, and he knows what that means, and he doesn’t know what it means because [Tanya] and I have sat down and drilled it in his head.”

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Michael especially felt “betrayed” that a cotton plant was left in the dressing room.

“Sadness not just because of what that plant represents to people that look like me but sadness for myself because I am a son of this country. I served this country honorably in the United States Army 16th Infantry, 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division,” Michael told THR. “I’m wounded for that service. I’m very vocal about my wounds and my scars. … It’s not fair. It’s something that white artists don’t have to worry about at all.”

For Tanya, the incident hit particularly “hard” as the “granddaughter of a sharecropper.”

The War and Treaty Detail 'Safety Issue' of Seeing Cotton Plant in Music Festival Dressing Room
Monica Schipper/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

“My grandfather actually bought the plantation that he picked cotton on in New Bern, North Carolina. My family still lives there,” Tanya said. “So when you see these things, you look at it and you’re like, ‘Wow, even though my grandfather bought the plantation, there’s still a lot of pain rooted for people that didn’t get an opportunity to change it into economic development for their families.’”

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She continued, “It just shouldn’t happen. Beyond it just being about racism, it’s broader now. It’s now a safety issue because we have to feel safe coming to these festivals.”

Tanya further stressed that music festivals have “to be safe” for individuals of color, who plan to attend shows and come to be entertained.

“That’s the position that I take as we are moving into this genre and the spaces broadening not just for us but for everyone,” she said. “Anybody with melanin in their skin, you have to provide an environment of safety for them.”

The Coca-Cola Sips & Sounds Music Festival has not publicly addressed the incident in the Trotters’ dressing room. Us Weekly has reached out for comment.



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