While citizens nationwide are protesting the death of George Floyd, who died after a Minneapolis officer kneeled on his neck for nine minutes, musicians and others in the music industry are also speaking up and looking for ways to help end racism and bring about accountability.
Billboard — like the many artists, companies, music industry professionals and more — are also adding their voices to stand in solidarity.
Here is a look at how musicians and others in the industry are helping, and inviting you to do the same:
Join “Black Out Tuesday”
Music companies and musicians are calling for a day for everyone to “disconnect from work and reconnect with our community” on June 2, which is being dubbed “Black Out Tuesday.” “As gatekeepers of the culture, it’s our responsibility to not only come together to celebrate the wins, but also hold each other up during loss,” read a statement that is being shared online.
Among those who have shared the message are Apple Music’s Ebro Darden, Atlantic Records, Sony, Capitol Records, 2K Management, independent distributor Empire, and many more. Many labels — including Columbia, Def Jam, Atlantic, Interscope, Warner, Virgin, and others — will cease business activity that day. Interscope Geffen A&M also added that it would not be releasing any new music the week of June 1.
The initiative, which is officially called #TheShowMustBePaused, was started by Atlantic Records’ Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang. The effort is intended to “intentionally disrupt the work week,” they wrote in an open letter. “Our mission is to hold the industry at large, including major corporations + their partners who benefit from the efforts, struggles and successes of Black people accountable.”
Billboard will be taking part in #TheShowMustBePaused in solidarity with the nationwide protests demanding justice. In light of the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and many others, we are using this time to reflect, learn and work towards solutions. #TheShowMustBePaused because #BlackLivesMatter.
“We need justice for George Floyd,” Beyonce began a May 29 Instagram video, urging her followers to sign petitions that will help seek justice. There are numerous petitions — including from Change.org, MoveOn.org, and Amnesty International, among others — that people can sign, collected on the website BlackLivesMatters.carrd.co.
Celebrities are donating to help pay the bail for protesters who have been arrested during demonstrations around the country. John Legend and Chrissy Teigen announced on May 30 that she was donating $200,000, while Janelle Monae and Kehlani have donated to MinnesotaFreedomFund.org. Hamilton star Lin-Manuel Miranda is also helping pay bail by donating to the Louisville Community Bail Fund.
One way to encourage change is to register to vote and head to the polls, something that Cardi B. is urging her fans to do. “When I say voting, I’m not only talking about the president,” she told her followers in an Instagram video May 29 addressing Floyd’s death. “We could vote for mayors, we could vote for judges, and we could also vote for D.A.s.”
Taylor Swift also emphasized the importance of voting in what has now become her most popular tweet yet. Her message, which called out Donald Trump for “stoking the fires of white supremacy,” ended with a message to the president: “We will vote you out in November.”
Pick up the phone and dial your local and national politicians. And that includes ringing Gov. Tim Walz of Minnesota, both Megan Thee Stallion and Miley Cyrus have pointed out. “WE MUST DEMAND JUSTICE FOR GEORGE FLOYD,” the “Hot Girl Summer” singer insisted on Instagram, while Cyrus tweeted, “please call the Minnesota Governor at 651-201-3400 and Attorney General to demand #justiceforGeorgeFloyd.“
One person who did pick up the phone? Jay-Z. The music mogul was calling with his concern as a dad. “Governor Walz mentioned having a human conversation with me – a dad and a black man in pain,” Jay-Z said, confirming his call with the governor. “YES, I am human, a father and a black man in pain and I am not the only one.”
Rapper Killer Mike spoke at a press conference in Atlanta May 29 urging protesters to be peaceful, and instead of violence and destruction, to “plan, organize and mobilize” against racism. “It is your duty not to burn your own house down for anger with an enemy,” he said in his now-viral speech. “It is your duty to fortify your own house so that you may be a house of refuge in times of organization.”
Multiple musicians — including Nick Cannon, Halsey, J. Cole and more — have taken to the streets to join peaceful protests around the country in an effort to have everyone’s voices heard in the fight to end systemic racism. They’re holding up signs, marching, addressing fellow protesters about the importance of speaking up, tending to injured protesters, and more.
Amplify Black Voices
Shawn Mendes urged people — especially those in the majority — to help black voices be heard. “All of us that are in the majority can’t sit idle any longer while the minority are suffering,” he shared in a graphic on Twitter. “It’s time for ALL humans to demand change. This needs to be EVERYONE’S fight. We need to start to really listen to and help amplify black voices. To make their struggles known and to reject racism. It’s time to take action on that feeling in your heart that knows how wrong this is.”
If you want to join the protests and can’t because you’re immune compromised or live with someone who is — especially with the coronaviruis pandemic still raging — Billie Eilish suggests making and displaying signs for your home and car windows. “if you live with older parents/grandparents/anyone in your family is at higher risk for severe illness and you’re worried about your health but want to protest!: you can always make signs!” the musician offered on Instagram. “don’t just do nothing!”
Lizzo urged her followers to share information about the messaging behind the protests as a way to help inform and educate others, rather than sharing the video of Floyd’s death. “There’s no need to share the video. Share the protest, share the messaging. Share the movement. But don’t share this man’s death,” she said in a video May 31. “This is bigger than that. This is about honoring his life and honoring lives of people of color and black people.”
British radio presenter Clara Amfo also wants people to get educated about the Black Lives Matter movement. “You want to be proudly and ACTIVELY anti-racist, more than fearing being called a racist? I want that for you too,” she wrote on Instagram before sharing a link for readers. “If so, then do the work, educate yourself and others stand by us loudly, consistently, FOREVER.”