- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Legendary singer Smokey Robinson issued a lengthy statement Tuesday defending Jennifer Lopez’s Grammys performance after critics complained about a non-black performer giving a tribute to Motown.

In a post on Instagram, Mr. Robinson wrote that Motown “united” people of all stripes and that critics of Mr. Lopez’s performance are just “haters” who spread the same bigotry they so vehemently oppose.

“Kids of all races, worldwide, grew up loving the music of Motown, imitating our acts — pretending to be Diana Ross, the Temptations, Michael Jackson and so on,” the singer wrote, the Detroit Free Press reported. “Parents were and still are turning their kids on to the music of Motown.

“So now you’re gonna try to diminish the scope of Motown and narrow it down to just music for black people, and you call yourself defending the image of Motown,” he continued. “Well you’re trying to set us back a hundred years. If you call yourself loving Motown, be happy that we reached so many people and broke down so many racial barriers and that an artist like Jennifer, even after hearing all your negative comments, still loved Motown enough to do the tribute anyway. Now that’s love and respect.

“So don’t call yourself loving Motown if you’re a hater and spreading the same bigotry that you so strongly oppose coming at you from others,” he added.

Ms. Lopez, who is of Puerto Rican descent, performed a medley of Motown hits Sunday alongside Mr. Robinson, sparking outrage by critics who argued a black performer should have been chosen. Ms. Lopez said Monday that she’s “OK” with the backlash.

“The thing about music is that it inspires all. Any type of music can inspire any type of artist,” she told Entertainment Tonight. “You can’t tell people what to love. You can’t tell people what they can and can’t do, what they should sing or not sing. You gotta do what’s in your heart.”

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