Late last week, two music industry vets Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang publicly implored their peers to hit pause today (June 2) and join them for a Blackout Tuesday meant to observe the recent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and countless others.
Writing on their newly created website TheShowMustBePaused.com and using the hashtag #TheShowMustBePaused, the two women, both of whom are black, are not simply asking the "multi-billion dollar industry" to take a day, but rather to use its might, its resources and most importantly its money to find productive ways to elevate black art, to hold corporations accountable and to empower black communities.
"This is not just a 24-hour initiative. We are and will be in this fight for the long haul," they wrote, noting they plan to soon release a plan of action.
While Variance is perhaps not one of the giants Thomas and Agyemang are targeting, this is a moment in history where none of us can stand on the sidelines, if we want to see true, tangible change realized.
I understand this is a difficult time and many of us continue to grapple with the ongoing health and economic crises, but this is likely a defining moment for this generation. And whether you join a peaceful protest or donate funds or volunteer, what's important is that we take action—all of us. And in my opinion, that's what this day, this week and the coming months will require.
In the meantime, if it gets a little quiet around here, that's OK. We're still going. But surely you'll forgive us if our attention is elsewhere at the moment.
So how can we help?
— For starters, you can donate directly to the family of George Floyd. And join the fight for justice for Breonna Taylor. And help the family of Ahmaud Arbery as they continue what is likely a very long legal battle.
— Get involved with Campaign Zero, created in 2015 with the goal of limiting police interventions, improving community interactions, and ensuring accountability.
— Sign civil rights group Color of Change's petition asking for all four officers involved in George Floyd's death be brought to justice.
— Donate to Know Your Rights Camp, co-founded by Colin Kaepernick, with a mission of advancing black and brown communities through "education, self-empowerment, mass-mobilization and the creation of new systems that elevate the next generation of change leaders." The organization has also created a legal defense fund to help protestors arrested in recent demonstrations.
— Speaking of legal funds, there are a number of community bail resources, such as this one which allows you to make a single donation which will be split to a number of local funds or allocate a specific amount to an individual group. There's also an exhaustive crowdsourced list which includes cities across the nation, from Austin to Birmingham to Denver to New York to Tulsa.
— Get involved with Movement for Black Lives, which was already leading the charge in addressing inequities as the rise of COVID-19 hit minority communities particularly hard. The organization is also leading a Week of Action from June 1-7, with various efforts taking place throughout the week, all tagged by level of risk (green, yellow and red) as a guide for those exercising safety precautions and/or avoiding unnecessary public interaction.
— To link up with other leaders and grassroots campaigns, some of which are still a work in progress, check out Until Freedom, which has a network focusing on criminal justice reform, gun violence prevention, immigrant rights and faith-based outreach.
— Contact your legislators, whether they're Republican or Democrat, or something in between. They need to hear from us. They need to know we see their actions—or inaction.
— And of course, register to vote. At this point, we shouldn't need a reminder, but this is one of the simplest and yet most vital ways to use our voice. And this year's election will almost certainly be the most important one of our lifetime. Please. Register. To. Vote.