The Black Lives Matter movement has grabbed 2020 by the horns and demanded justice.With some of the biggest turnouts for protests, it seems that black voices are finally starting to get heard. The movement has been around since 2013 after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the murder of Trayvon Martin, a 17-year old boy he claimed to have shot out of self-defense despite the teenager being unarmed. His death opened a deeper dialogue about police brutality and how black people are often targeted because of the color of their skin. Martin wasn’t the first to be profiled, and given what happened to Tamir Rice, Breonna Taylor, and most recently George Floyd, he hasn’t been the last. The Black Lives Matter movement has gained immense traction in 2020 with people of all races joining the cause and demanding justice for not only George Floyd, but all black people who were wrongfully killed and who may be targeted in the future.
The murder of George Floyd caused an uproar and left so many people feeling angered by the racism that still lingers in not only the US but across the world. With the music industry holding so much of their roots and influences from black culture, it’s fair and just that musicians of all genres have begun speaking up for the cause.
Here are a few ways that artists have been using their voices to support #BlackLivesMatter. Let’s see which artists have gone above and beyond to help the cause.
Funding a movement isn’t a cheap endeavor. Sadly, sometimes to see change, you need the green to get there. Beyond that, protesters are getting arrested even if they’re peaceful. Some can’t afford bail leaving them stuck behind bars, their voices stifled. Families of previously murdered black people are stuck with piles of legal fees in their journey to get justice. Musicians are aware of these things and have been using their platforms and fortunes for good. All types of genres are joining the cause. Here a few we found.
Rapper Kanye West has set up a college fund for George Floyd’s daughter, donated over $2 million to help with legal fees with Breonna Taylor and Ahmuad Arbery’s families, along with helping black-owned businesses in crisis.
K-pop band BTS donated $1 million in support of Black Lives Matter. With over 26 million followers on Twitter, their loyal fans (also called ARMY) matched the $1 million within 24 hours. It goes to show how important using your platform can be to get an important cause that needs support out in the open.
Hardcore bands Knocked Loose and Dying Wish collaborated on a merch design where all the proceeds go to bail funds near their hometowns in Portland, OR and Louisville, KY. While they didn’t publish the final total, one of the bands did mention they sold over 700 shirts.
Mark Tuan of the K-pop group Got7 posted his support along with a receipt showing he had donated $7,000 to the George Floyd memorial fund.
While there were many who donated that we didn’t include, we wanted to show the diversity among donations from all races and music genres. It’s also important to note that there may be others who donated and haven’t posted about it but have shown support in other ways publicly.
While taking out a wallet is a great way to help, another surefire way that artists have been showing their support has been through going out onto the front lines and joining the protests. Musicians joining the protests include:
San Jose Jazz, an arts organization best known for putting on the San Jose Jazz Festival every year posted on their social media that they would be shutting down for the day and joining their local protest to demand justice for George Floyd. They were part of many musicians who participated in the trending hashtag on June 2, #TheShowMustBePaused meaning that music can wait in the name of justice.
Pop singer Halsey took to the streets of Los Angeles with a mask and sign, ready to join the cause. Being half-black but white-passing, she has felt the pain and anger of seeing those closest to her mistreated because of their race and has demanded equality and justice like all the other protestors. She has been right in the thick of things, tending to the wounded and using her voice.
Singer and actress Keke Palmer, much like Halsey, has been “down in the trenches” as they say. There was a video going around of her pleading with The National Guard sent in to control the protests to stand with the community and help fight for justice.
Rapper Lil Yatchy was also seen joining the protests and using a megaphone to spread his message that systemic racism must end, and we need every race to join to help make it happen.
It’s great to see many musicians joining the cause not looking for more fans or more streams. They just want justice like thousands of others.
Social Media Advocacy
Before we start this section, we want to make it clear that there’s a chance those who advocated online may have also donated or protested and not made it public. This is solely to focus on some of the advocacy we found admirable and worth noting. Whether it’s a small musician or one with millions of followers, lots of musicians are speaking up and sharing valuable information with their fans. For fans who can’t afford to donate or do not have the means to join the protests, musicians have been sharing other ways to help and support the case. A few we noted advocating online include:
Hip-hop singer Lizzo has never been afraid of telling the world how she feels and being a musician of color who has likely experienced racism in her career, she immediately spoke up. She expressed her outrage about the murder of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and demanded change. She began sharing links for freedom funds, details of how to help, and petitions to sign. Beyond that, she urged her followers to go out and vote in November so that real changes can continue to be made.
Hip-hop, R&B singer Princess Nokia wrote a song to lift up the Black Lives Matter in 2016 called “Brown Girl Blues,” a spoken word piece about systemic racism. Since then, she has been advocating for equality on Instagram by urging those with privilege to use it and help lift the black community up and stand up to the oppressors with them.
Rapper Lil’ Nas X started by just reposting a few petitions but after a few days of protests, he realized he needed to use his platform and began linking to freedom funds and offering warnings and advice to protesters to properly protect themselves. One tweet warned, “PROTESTORS PLEASE WEAR PROTECTIVE EYEWEAR! PPL ARE LOSING THEIR EYES TO RUBBER BULLETS! THEY DO NOT CARE IF UR PEACEFUL OR NOT!”
When artists use their platforms to spread valuable information, it can truly make a difference, and that has been seen in the four officers involved in Floyd’s murder getting charged or Taylor’s case getting reopened.
While this one may not seem as helpful or important to the movement, it still shows that artists are not remaining silent. Even if they aren’t sharing ways to help, they are still showing their support, and if they can change the mind of at least one of their fans, maybe some of the hate will become unlearned. Here are a few musicians who showed solidarity online.
Country singer Thomas Rhett expressed his support of the Black Lives Matter movement. With a black daughter and many black members who are a part of his crew, he felt it was crucial to speak out and show his solidarity. In his Instagram post, he said, “I stand with George and his family and all those who have faced racism. I stand with my wife and my daughters. We will be fighting this fight for the rest of our lives.”
Bjorn Ulvaeus, a member of the Swedish disco group ABBA, showed his support of the Black Lives Matter movement by condemning those without ‘the imagination or will to put themselves in the place of a colored woman or man."’ He also expressed that he is planning to have his grandchildren raised without hatred in their hearts (https://bit.ly/30pED1P)
Latin singer Prince Royce joined the conversation sharing his solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement by saying “We must all band together, Latino, Black, White, Asian, to work for change. Our nation is tired of the racism, the division and the hate. We can only heal and move forward towards a better future by dealing with this head on” (Source: https://bit.ly/3f7celj)
All genres and all races have come together and joined the Black Lives Matter movement, showing their support in many forms. With all this support and empathy going through the music community, one thing is for certain. As some of the biggest artists out there continue to speak up, people aren’t going to be able to hide from these important messages any longer. And hopefully, with these messages, minds will change and so will corrupt systems.
Written by: Kristen Petronio