Content warning: references to police violence, racist violence.
The revival of the Black Lives Matter movement has inspired an array of haunting artistic responses. Black Lives Matter: Poems for a New World, edited by Ambrose Musiyiwa, is no exception. With over 100 contributions from writers of diverse ages and backgrounds, the collection is a poignant exploration of an era of renewed protest and newfound solidarities, against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic.
by Candice Nembhard
There is something to be said for the recent solidarity protests in London, Birmingham and Manchester as organised by the Black Lives Matter movement. Never have I seen such a positive, unionised display of blackness that has caught the eye of not only the media, but also the average citizen. As more articles are released, I am becoming more intrigued by the role that social media has played in galvanising mass movement, and implementing revolutionary politics that will leave behind a long lasting message for people of colour to come.
My experience in the UK regarding institutional violence against people of colour was that the baton was always passed to our stateside counterparts. It is not difficult to see why, when sites such as Twitter and Tumblr opened us up to the lives of Trayvon Martin, Ayesha Jones, Eric Garner, and Sandra Bland — long before it caught the attention of popular news sites and news networks. It was important that these narratives were being discussed, as it gave people of all races an insight into the practices within forces that are designed to safeguard us —especially in a society of 24-hour surveillance.Continue Reading
by Emmanuel Agu
Lemonade, Beyoncé’s latest album, is aptly named. In the political climate we live in with constant reminders of the atrocities that black people face, and a music industry that seems to be losing its greatest and brightest this year, nothing could have been more refreshing than this album for popular culture and especially for black women. This is undoubtedly the strongest piece of work Beyoncé has ever produced; musically, visually, and politically. With features and samples from a wide variety of artists including James Blake, Jack White, Diplo and for a second time another sample from Outkast’s’ ‘Spottieottiedopaliciousness’ (which I will never complain about), Knowles-Carter goes from strength to strength and I am truly left to question if it is ever possible for her to release an album less brilliant than its predecessor.
by Mike Vinti
It often seems today that everything exists in its own sphere — music in one box, politics in another, and visual art in another still. This is self-evident when you take a look at a lot of popular culture. For example, the rise of TV shows and films, such as The Interview, that use politics as backdrop for their plot, yet fail to engage in any substantial political critique.
The same thing has been taking place in music for the past twenty years, and musicians who have attempted to rectify this have either been relegated from their illustrious chart positions, or left to the underground.
This separation has made it harder for writers and artists of all stripes to experiment with the boundaries of their medium, and there’s been a death of explicitly political works of culture which make into the mainstream because of this. Of course, challenging the dominant perception of your chosen field always creates a stir. However it seems now, more than ever, musicians aren’t even being afforded the chance to do that.
by Cadi Cliff
When a celebrity says something explicitly racist, we make a noisy ritual of shunning them. We’re able to do this because the multiculturalism movement changed the rules of civility. It has taught us what not to say to each other, but not what to say next.
Michael Brown, 18, was shot on August 9 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. The black teenager was fatally shot by Darren Wilson, 28, a white Ferguson police officer. The disputed circumstances of the shooting and the subsequent protests have ignited debate about law enforcement’s relationship with African-Americans and use of force by the police. The grand jury’s decision not to indict a police officer over the death of Eric Garner came ten days after a grand jury in Missouri decided that Darren Wilson should not face criminal charges. The failure of any prosecution in both the Brown, Martin, and Garner cases highlights a trend in the American judicial system; once is a tragedy, twice is a pattern.
Every time toxic, tragic events reveal the unequal ways that different Americans experience re-segregation and state violence, we talk about having a productive discussion, but we never really have it. Instead, we’ve regressed a half-century in our racial progress.Continue Reading