Beyonce - Alton Sterling

The Music Industry Responds to the Deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile

The recent shootings in the USA, resulting in deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile at the hands of the police, have sparked a global outcry. The most recent in alarmingly ongoing instances of a black community targeted and villainised by police, both men appear to have been shot dead as the tragic result of what were standard, non-violent altercations with officers.

American politicians have joined the commentary surrounding these events, and President Obama has issued a statement offering condolences and urging americans to come together in their grief. The shootings have also seen an overwhelming response from the music industry, as artists have taken to social media to express their shock and sadness.

John Legend’s Twitter feed has become an open forum for the number of people sharing news and their own sadness and frustrations regarding the shootings. The singer joined his own words to challenge how Castile could have been shot during what was a routine traffic stop.

The online storm of protest surrounding the shootings has also looked to commemorate the men who died, particularly Castile. Janelle Monae tweeted an article that named Castile as “a role model to hundreds of kids” at the school where he worked, as well as a loved member of the community. Many people have also challenged the NRA, as both Sterling and Castile were carrying firearms at the times of their deaths. Castile possessed a ‘concealed carry’ license, which he was moving to show the officers who stopped him. The Roots member Questlove posted on twitter, questioning whether the NRA would move to defend either victim. He also urged white people to speak out for black culture.

Canadian artist Drake has penned an open letter on social media, decrying the unchanging relationship between law enforcement and “black and brown” communities.


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Last Thursday, Beyoncé released a powerful statement on her website entitled “Freedom”. Calling for action and stating that “the war on people of color and all minorities need to be over”. Pausing her show in Glasgow, Bey gave a moment of silence as a screen displayed the names of victims of police brutality.

Click the link in my bio to go to Turn our anger into action.

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Rapper Macklemore also took to social media with a lengthy comment on Instagram, underneath a photo of victim Alton Sterling. He also calls for the active change of an ingrained and inherently racist system, and for white people to “care enough” to make that change.

How many more murders of black people by police before we hold our system and those that enforce it accountable? The footage of Alton Sterling being murdered by a police officer is equal parts horrific, infuriating and devastating. How many times can we watch a family at a press conference in hysterics over the killing of their loved one? Murdered by those that have been assigned to protect us. What do we do in times like these? It’s a question for everyone, but specifically white people. The systematic oppression that enables a murder like this, will be corrected once white people care enough to change it. Alton Sterling didn’t create this problem. This is hundreds of years of conditioning. We have been told our entire lives that people that look like Alton Sterling, selling CD’s outside of a store, are a threat to our society. The news, TV, movies, jails, history books, schools and our laws all uphold this false belief. A person isn’t born fearing someone because of the color of their skin. This fear is taught, crafted and instilled in the fabric of our American lives. And although we make strides and progress is measurable at times, I can’t help but think….If I was put in the exact same situation that Alton was in, I would be alive today…Because of the color of my skin. And he’s dead because of his. I often don’t know what to do during these moments. It becomes easier to vent on social media than to take direct action. Here’s a couple things I’ve gotten hip to in the last 2 years. 1: Financially support black led organizations. Put your resources behind people of color that are at the forefront of the movement 2: Do a People’s Institute “Undoing racism” training. One of the most eye opening and important tools to understanding our past in relation to the work that needs to be done. The website is 3: Have conversations about race. In real life. With people that look like you and people that don’t. RIP #altonsterling

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Talib Kweli joined the conversation, engaging with various twitter users over the subjects of the shootings and the BLM movement. He also defended Macklemore who came under fire for jumping on the of the bandwagon with those protesting.

Other artists like Vic Mensa, Kanye West, Justin Timberlake, Katy Perry and Chuck D of Public Enemy also took to twitter. The #altonsterling tag continues to trends amongst musicians, even as they mourn how no one’s life should begin and end with a hashtag.

Campaigns have also started to help support the families of the victims of the shootings. Click on the following links to reach the Go Fund Me support pages for the families of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.

Image by Cosmopolitan