2020 has been the year of constant change. Sometimes it can be hard to keep up with. One universal feeling I'm seeing through social media is this feeling of helplessness. The coronavirus has paused a lot of our future plans and our ability to plan in itself. The violent actions of the state (endangering Black and Brown people in their jobs, on the street) means that we are constantly met with stories of people being taken from us in ways that are almost always preventable. As a result, a lot of us are becoming tired and feeling like we can't do anything to help. That's not true.
My education is not in politics or economics. My knowledge is based in Popular and Classical music and Music Education. But I came across a tweet which emphasised how music can have intricate messages of freedom. I agree. I would go further and say that music can encompass intricate messages of emotion that is relevant to any societal climate. Anger, frustration, pain, sadness, helplessness. Musicians can encompass feelings that words printed or on a screen may not succeed. It's why there are certain songs that bring us comfort in times like these. That’s why music is so important. (It’s also why I love what I do).
I think artists deep down know this. However, I implore all artists to look at the purpose of their actions when sharing their art. Are you trying to encompass a feeling that is relevant to the current climate through your music/art that will educate and advocate for change or is it about you - the individual? And this is not to dismiss your individual feelings, it’s important that we are self-compassionate to ourselves. However, I don't think that making art that isn't sincere and has an ulterior motive is not beneficial to any movement - it's also not beneficial yourself.
For example an individualist approach would be; are you creating your art so you can obtain online social capital (trying to build/diversify your audience) on social media under the guise that you are doing it for the “people”. Recently I'm seeing posts that are 'dedicated' to Black people, in particular those who are hurting with the recent deaths of Belly Mujinga, George Floyd, Tony Mcdade, Breonna Taylor and so many more people. Regardless of your 'good intentions', it may come across as virtue-signalling and not sincere. And not helping the overall Black creative community right now.
Why do you feel the need to express your moral compass in this moment? To prove a point? If then, to who? Who are you trying to prove your moral compass to in moments of Black death? Why aren't you (constantly) celebrating and uplifting Black lives, Black joy?
I would encourage you to think about the intention of your actions.
Restructure your thinking and think about how you can work towards creating art that encompasses a feeling for the collective. How can you use your talents to amplify voices of the marginalised if you choose to?
This might mean taking yourself out of the equation. This might mean not making/sharing your art. Amplifying the art of those who do not share the same privileges and identities as you. On a regular basis, not when it seems convenient or the right thing to do. This doesn’t invalidate your creativity but it’s about doing the work and working towards imagining freedom. Freedom for everyone.
In all honesty, it never has been the time to satisfy your own individual needs. Individualism will never help towards the goals of abolishment of all the systems that thrive on our exploitation, our exhaustion, our deaths. And unfortunately, you cannot beg every artists to have empathy and not take an individualistic approach. A lot of artists/industries who are speaking out now will go back to being overtly ignorant and operate with their privileges. But in every area of life, in whatever you do, there is a way that we continuously use our strengths and work towards abolishment and freedom.