Once again, this is turning out to be a summer marked by prominent police killings of innocent black men. Black popular artists in American culture are complicating things for those fans who would prefer to remain silent or choose not to engage in the most significant civil rights issue of our time. These artists are shaking moderates out of complacency and extending our awareness to this crisis – just as their forebears did during the civil rights struggle in the 1960s.
Black musicians and artists are key partners in dramatizing equality and justice for black citizens. The cynical among us may presume that artists who call for action against systemic, racialized police violence are simply jumping on a cause célèbre – or that their earned privilege no longer affords them the right to be outraged. But that is a selective and ahistorical reading.
The other week, 23 artists working in music, television and film released a video in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. They urged the public to pressure Congress and the Obama administration to act against police violence that disproportionately affects black American citizens. Their call, which was organized by Alicia Keys, is significant and it exists within a tradition of activism among black artists. (Alternet)