Not even two weeks have gone by since Jesse Williams delivered his inspirational call to action speech at the 2016 BET Awards. In that moment, we felt strong, powerful, and energized to take active steps in stopping police brutality. But, on July 4th, we learned that an off-duty police officer killed Delrawn Smalls following a road rage incident in Brooklyn. On July 5th, we were shocked as video surfaced online showing the brutal shooting and murder of Alton Sterling, a 37 year old, father of five. We mourned his loss and saw it as another senseless murder of a black man unnecessarily killed by law enforcement. Still reeling from the death of Alton Sterling, we then had to witness the murder of another black man, Philando Castile, who was killed during a traffic stop for a broken brake light.
Protests have broken out across the country demanding justice for the slain men and for all those killed by police officers in recent years. Protestors blocked the streets in several major cities. Sadly, protests turned violent in Dallas when Micah Xavier Johnson opened fire on police officers, killing five. Needless to say, it has been a tough week with many feeling lost and dejected, realizing that the movement for equality is nowhere near getting any better.
The hip-hop community has come out in droves in response to the murders, posting their thoughts and reactions on social media:
Social media is a powerful tool and artists are able to communicate directly with their fans. However, a big critique of the millennial generation is that we spend most of our time on social media, protesting through online forums, neglecting the grunt work that it takes to make real world change. This critique extends to artists, who have been known to speak on social justice issues through social media, but fail to attend rallies, make speeches, or use their influence to positively affect change in the world.
As the faces of the black community, it is the job of artists to be in public, protesting with the average American. A lot of artists hosted and attended rallies that were held around the country. Some artists, such as Drake and Beyoncé wrote letters, addressing the recent events. However, there are still many who stand on the sidelines while people are fighting for equality. As individuals who profit from black culture, it is their duty to go above and beyond and highlight the atrocities that are occurring in the United States, not only through social media, but by attending and hosting forums and rallies against police brutality.
Our hearts and prayers extend to the citizens and the police officers who have passed away because of structural racism and the effects of police brutality. May we all do our part to improve our country because everybody deserves to feel safe in the place they call home.Photos via Getty Images / Yana Paskova