One of history’s most pressing issues has come to the forefront of social media this week in light of George Floyd’s murder. The disgusting treatment of this black man was fatal and while his name has become household, there are so many other people of colour suffering from a racist regime.
What I’ve gathered this week is being not racist will not balance the inequalities of skin colour. We need to be anti-racist and actively so for a shift in our racist culture. Acknowledging my own privilege has been uncomfortable but it should be. Having listened and reviewed lots of music there is a huge disparity in the colour of the artists, white in favour. Ashamed of my own reflections on diversity, this week I’ve collated a playlist of music by entirely black artists.
As a powerful political tool for articulating and spreading the message of the black experience, from civil rights anthems such Billie Holiday’s ‘Strange Fruit’ or Sam Cook’s ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’ to the birth of blues, jazz, soul, disco, rock-‘n’-roll and hip hop, black music has been formative in culture through history. The popularisation of black musicians in white society, whilst a history rife with exploitation and appropriation, has nonetheless always been at the forefront of the black equality movement, and black music has created powerful moments in history. Hip-hop was conceived as an expression of the unfair treatment of black neighbourhoods during the Brooklyn fires of the 1980s and contemporary artists such as Kendrick Lamar, Killer Mike and Common continue the rich tradition of voicing powerful political issues in their music. The spectrum of black music extends, however, far beyond rap and hip-hop. Artists Flying Lotus, Blood Orange and D’angelo are producing powerful contemporary visions of jazz, soul and gospel music, while continuing to document the struggles faced by black people in modern society. Even in the success of the music, at the crux of black music is the hardships the black community face.
Listening to and enjoying music by black artists obliges us to go beyond the music and lyrics and take head of their lives not just as musicians but people with rights. We cannot use black culture to stimulate our own and then neglect black hardship. If you can, please donate to the various charities offering support for protestors and re-educate yourself about black lives, you might notice the inherent racist narrative in history. There is not enough time to silently protest before another person of colour is killed.