Friday, June 05, 2020

Black Voices Matter

For most of my life, I've used music as my voice when I was too shy to speak, whether it was finding community at shows or being welcomed at parties because I had a killer mixtape. Needless to say, a good portion of that music was created - or influenced - by Black musicians, songwriters, singers, and producers. I think about growing up with Stevie Wonder's Living For The City speaking truth from my AM radio - or waiting to hear Bad Luck by Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes because of how it made me feel. Not to mention the Jackson 5, with their resident superstar who was just six years older than me! I think about my high school band, the Young Aborigines, and how we incorporated elements of salsa and dub into our weird art rock - and then danced our asses off to Thriller, Bob Marley's Uprising, and The Message after rehearsal. My gratitude for all that these artists have given me is humbling, especially considering the challenges and obstacles this country has thrown at Black people going back at least to 1619. 

Since launching AnEarful, I have used my voice to celebrate the greatest music of our time but today I am using it to say, unequivocally, Black Lives Matter. I stand in solidarity with the families of those, like George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, whose lives have been destroyed by racial violence. More power to all the protesters who have risked life and limb - not to mention their health in this time of COVID-19 - to amplify their voices and push for social change. It would be easy for me to assume that everyone is doing their part and already knows about the ways to support this movement. But just in case, here's a list of organizations I've supported or vetted who are all helping in their way. 

The Bail Project
Black Visions Collective
Black Youth Project 100
Campaign Zero
The George Floyd Memorial Fund
Know Your Rights Camp
Movement for Black Lives
Reclaim the Block
Southerners On New Ground

Also, since this is a music blog, I would like to encourage you to support organizations, like Black Art Futures or the others listed here, which help Black creators of all stripes. 

Naturally, another way to help is to buy music by Black musicians or from Black-owned labels. One of the best ways to do that is on Bandcamp, either today when many are waiving fees, passing on all funds to artists, or supporting organizations like those above, or on June 19th when Bandcamp will donate its share of sales to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. 

If you need suggestions, check out this mega-list of over 1,000 Black artists, producers and labels, or look for releases by Laraaji, Smoke DZA, or Beverly Glenn-Copeland, a Black trans man who is currently homeless, just to name a very few.

Black voices matter, too, and in the aftermath of last week's eruption, a number of songs have been swirling around my head, so much so that I decided to put them in a playlist because that's what I do. I hope you enjoy this mix of familiar and less well-known tracks that seem to speak to our current moment. 

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