On Thursday afternoon, talented singer/songwriter Janelle Monae, her artist Jidenna, and her Wondaland collective, continued to stand with the “Black Lives Matter” movement this week during a march in New York City.
The artists joined the Stop Mass Incarnation Network for a rally held in Times Square. Stop Mass has made their presence felt all over the country by speaking out on the many victims of police brutality. They’re also planning the much-talked about “#RiseUpOctober,” a massive mobilization of artists, lawmakers, and more this fall in New York, to speak out against the growing number of unarmed civilians killed by police.
Today’s rally focused on the one thing that’s kept the movement going–the people.
Jidenna, known for his current hit “Classic Man,” stressed the importance of speaking up against police brutality and racism in different institutions. The singer persuaded the crowd to demand change beyond just hashtags and videos online.
The group marched to the police precinct on West 42nd Street to perform their newly released single “Hell You Talmbout,” an ode to Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Aiyana Stanley Jones, and others killed in police-related incidents. Janelle released the single (featuring Jidenna, Roman GianArthur, Deep Cotton, St. Beauty, and George 2.0) earlier today after her previous protest rally in Philadelphia.
She commented on the large amounts of celebrity-based news in media, challenging the public to demand a switch in the narrative when it comes to police reform.
Janelle released a statement about the song’s message on Instagram:
This song is a vessel. It carries the unbearable anguish of millions. We recorded it to channel the pain, fear, and trauma caused by the ongoing slaughter of our brothers and sisters. We recorded it to challenge the indifference, disregard, and negligence of all who remain quiet about this issue. Silence is our enemy. Sound is our weapon. They say a question lives forever until it gets the answer it deserves… Won’t you say their names?
Singer/songwriter Shyvonne Sanganoo, who is also part of Artists for Justice, helped conduct a die-in at the rally.
“We thought about different ways to spread the message, since we’re all creatives and that’s how Artists for Justice was formed,” she said. She also shared her thoughts on the movement transitioning from social media to the streets. “Maybe a song is for you, maybe a march is for you, but the first thing is saying something. Whether it’s in your circle of friends, on your status, etc. We wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for social media spreading the word, but you have to keep it going beyond that.”