Artists in Action: Music Icons Taking a Stand
After the murders of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd and countless other unarmed black people, the African American community and allies have taken to the streets in protest. There has been global recognition of the need to organize around fighting for the protection of black lives that are perpetually in danger. “In this country, black men only have like, 5 years we can exhibit maximum strength. And that’s right now while you a teenager, while you still strong, while you still wanna lift weights, while you still wanna shoot back. ‘Cause once you turn 30 it’s like they take the heart and soul out of a man, out of a black man, in this country” – Tupac Shakur. Tupac stresses the importance of the younger generations and how we will be the fire from which the fight comes from. Young people have been an instrumental part of this movement against racial injustice and will continue to be. We are seeing protests and conversations being started by youth and we see youth coming together to fight against racial injustice in America. A huge part of what inspires us and what brings us together is music. For centuries humans have used music in times of mourning, times of joy and times of war. So, it makes sense that youth are inspired by musicians who are getting involved in the protests by donating, organizing and using their platform to spark change. Here are some of the many artists championing to end racial injustice that are inspiring me and my peers to get more involved and stay active.
Kendrick Lamar has always called out racial injustice and rapped about uncomfortable topics in his music. Recently, Kendrick has been out protesting in the streets with the people, in his home town Compton and his music has been used as a soundtrack for the recent protests.
YG brought out over 50,000 people for a peaceful BLM protest in Hollywood. During this protest, YG also shot a video for his new song ‘FTP’ where he is calling for a change in the government and the police. He has been vocal about police brutality in his music and his call to action with the protest was an inspiring way to bring his community together to fight.
The Weeknd has been very active in giving money to support the fight. He donated $200,000 to the Black Lives Matter movement, another $200,000 to Colin Kaepernick’s Know Your Rights Camp Legal Defense Initiative and he has donated $100,000 to the National Bail Out. He has also been holding record labels accountable by ordering them to spread some of their wealth to organizations helping with racial injustice.
Jay-Z has always been someone who makes a lot of stuff happen behind the scenes and he is no different in the fight for racial justice. He has been sending donations and giving resources to people in need. For example, he lent his private jet to Ahmaud Arbery’s lawyer to get to court hearings, he put MLK quotes in newspapers and articles across the country dedicated to George Floyd and he has been speaking with the governor of Minnesota to discuss justice for George Floyd.
Atlanta Rapper and Activist, Killer Mike, has been given access to Selena Gomez’s Instagram, which has 171.57 million followers, to promote activism and to have a greater platform to address racial injustice in America. He also gave a very emotional and powerful speech to the Atlanta protestors and told them to “plot, plan and strategize”.
J. Cole has also joined the movement by walking in the protests in Fayetteville, North Carolina. He is also releasing his powerful song ‘Be Free’ onto streaming platforms in an effort to inspire the people of America.
It is amazing to see our musical artists get involved and inspire the youth to make a change. This is why I say that music is bigger than just songs because just an instrumental and a person’s voice can create international change that many presidents can’t compete with. Music is not just an instrumental with someone’s voice over it, it is much bigger than that, it is what unites us as people and what can lead the youth to greatness. The youth will make changes to inspire future generations and we look up to rappers, singers and producers to guide us. I am eager to see how my idols will spark and guide a change in the course of my history.