Marching in the streets of London chanting black lives matter is not something that you think would still need to be clarified in 2016 and yet, on July 10th we joined the thousands protesting from Oxford Circus down to Parliament. Nothing but confusion, hurt and anger can describe the emotions when thinking about why we are living in a reality where black lives are snatched away, due to the stunted societal value of their lives. As many have explained (and we'll say it again for those in the back) the fight for black lives does not discredit the lives of others! And seeing the many races and religions united in London for the cause was uplifting - the fight for human lives is an issue for all humanity. One speaker from the crowd while outside the house of parliament, comically explained that when going to a doctor with a broken leg you would not expect him to rub your shoulder and tell u that all bones matter (real talk) - the focus right now is on black lives because they are continuously dehumanised and without rectifying the value of those lives, all lives cannot matter.
The unlawful deaths in America at the hands of police officers who continue to be protected by the law is nothing new, last year at least 102 unarmed black people were killed in the US by the police, with only 10 of those cases having charges placed on the killer and a mere two cases where the officers at hand were actually convicted (You can click here to see the names of each of those victims and find out more about their cases). However with the most recent deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, it has felt like the final straw on the backs of the black community who is holding up an unbearable struggle.
In the UK the battle for people of colour may not involve the gun violence experienced in the states but the institutional racism embedded in systems which dictate the difficulty in people’s everyday life are still apparent. Structural racism and hierarchal race privilege is not as clear cut as individual biased acts of racism, but it controls the way people think, which has a much more profound effect as a whole on society and is often much more difficult to overcome. In some areas of the UK black people were 17.5 times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people despite making up only around 3% of the population. Deaths at the hands of the police in the UK often goes unnoticed - 509 black and minority deaths occurred under police protection since 1991. 348 occurred in prison, 137 cases in police custody and 24 deaths recorded in immigration detention centres and yet none of these cases have ended with successful convictions. These undeniable figures demonstrate why the Black Lives Matter protest march in London was necessary, and not just about showing support for the tragedies abroad, but a way of uniting, to shed light on the destruction also happening here at home.
Most noticeable to me while in the midst of the protest was how young the crowd was, mostly consisting of those who were probably in their twenties. The youthful atmosphere meant that at times the anger and hurt turned to turnt up hopefulness, something like a good ole church choir, with people chanting Kendrick Lamar lyrics and drummers setting the soundtrack for us to bop along to. With that said, the effect that music can have by uplifting in such magnitude shows the importance of support from musicians in times like this, especially as they are making their careers and fortunes largely from the same demographic with their fists proudly in the air - the young audience. Luckily, there are musicians using their platform to voice the despair within their communities and unite their vast array of fans. From the US there are popular artists like Beyonce, who alongside her husband Jay-Z has decided to donate $1.5 million dollars towards the Black Lives Matter movement through their streaming service Tidal and their most recent work shows them creating music to incite change and highlight the killings occurring. Evidently, Beyonce can do more than sing and swing her hips (and yes she can saaang), creating ‘Freedom’ from the powerful 'Lemonade' visual album, which was energetically performed at this years BET Awards alongside Kendrick Lamar, who has also done his fair share of vocalising the black communities complex battles. Meanwhile, Jay-Zs most recent song ‘Spiritual’ was written after the death of young Mike Brown, but not released until now, as it unfortunately still rings true to current events. On Beyonce’s website a letter asking everyone to “respect our lives” was posted, alongside links of how to contact the local congress in order to promote a push for action.
In the UK there is a number of artists in the Grime community using their access to audiences as a way of keeping their young fans informed and undivided in the fight for justice. Stormzy has not shied away from political conversations on his Twitter account and recently posted on his Instagram to emphasise the fact that “this isn't a black or white thing” - unity is key and we commend artists for voicing this. Novelist, Akala and Ms Dynamite are also among the UK artists who have continuously used their platforms to support the black community and voice their opinions on the matter, in order to educate those who remain ignorant and expose the actions plagued against black lives - we even saw the three of them marching amongst us in the streets of london for the protest, they're really 'bout that life. Although the celebrity endorsement of social change creates the possibility of people making due with retweets and likes as their move of action, I believe that any publicity on the matter should be deemed a move for positive change - the more of us who unite and come together for the cause in order to force authorities to restructure and re-educate themselves, the less likely it will become for someones mother, son, father or daughter to loose their life unlawfully and without justice.
If you would like to contribute to the cause and support your global community in the fight for black lives there is places that you can do so: https://stopthemaangamizi.com/petition/ - sign the petition here for UK parliament to stop the Maangamizi. Read the home page for more information on the cause. https://www.facebook.com/BlackLivesMatter/ - Follow Black Lives Matter on Facebook to find out more information on how you can support.
We hope our platform can be used for the support of Black lives, as it personally effects each of us here on the blog. We are able to see that music unites us in many ways and let the support from artists be another. Take a look at more pictures from the London protest below.