The slow and inhumane killing of George Floyd, coupled with the frustration of lockdown and mass unemployment, have created the conditions necessary for mass protest and – hopefully, finally – change.
A significant contribution to efforts to seek justice has come from the music community. #TheShowMustBePaused initiative was launched by US music industry executives Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang, and sought to get their peers to reflect on the ways they can “protect and empower the black communities that have made them disproportionately wealthy in ways that are measurable and transparent” – their call for a social media “blackout” quickly became a global trend.
Offline meanwhile, in the crowds of protesters themselves, music has also been fuel for harmony and unity. In London, with the Notting Hill carnival cancelled, its artistry and irreverent spirit lives on in the mini-soundsystems that have cropped up after marches and even within crowds. Where words won’t suffice to express the anger and frustration of affected communities, songs give protest a language. This game-changing moment has inspired a new wave of protest songs and underlined the timelessness of others.