Tessa Thompson, John Legend Among 1,000 ‘Black Artists for Freedom’ Calling to End Racial Injustice
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A new collective of black workers in the arts and entertainment, Black Artists for Freedom, has posted a statement on their website commemorating Juneteenth and has asked cultural institutions to make changes to address racial injustices.
The collective consists of over 1,000 black actors, musicians, filmmakers, authors, painters and poets, including Oscar, Grammy, Tony and Pulitzer prize winners. Tessa Thompson, Sterling K. Brown, Niecy Nash, Gabrielle Union, Trevor Noah, Ava DuVernay, Barry Jenkins, Lena Waithe, Lupita Nyong'o, David Oyelowo and John Legend are all signatories.
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The statement, entitled "Our Juneteenth," begins by telling the story of the Juneteenth holiday and its meaning for today's black culture, while George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, among others, were killed.
“The fact is clear: black people are still not free. Day after day, generation after generation, we are threatened, brutalized and murdered by law enforcement agencies and guards, ”the statement said. "When we hear" I can't breathe, "we hear the voices of our children, parents, brothers, sisters and cousins. We hear our elders and ancestors. We hear each other one day."
The collective then goes into the current Black Lives Matter protest movement and explains how it inspired them to speak out against racism in art and entertainment.
“The representation of black people in the media has long been used to justify violence against us. Racist stereotypes of black crime, monstrosity, uncontrolled anger, hypersexuality, immunity to pain, etc. are still being recycled in books, films and on the internet, ”it continues. “These stereotypes are deliberately and unconsciously given - in everyday interactions and in court - as reasons why black people do not deserve human rights. We don't just want to modify or alleviate this racist culture. We want to get rid of it. "
The statement then turns to a call to action calling on cultural institutions to commit to breaking ties with the police, using their money where they have their mouths, standing up for the blacks, training and to fight for black freedom.
“We believe that the culture will only change if concrete measures are taken. Cultural institutions that depend on black culture - publishing, writing, fashion, theater, film, television, visual arts, music, journalism, science, education, social media - must commit themselves to racial justice through material changes, ”the statement said .
Read the full statement by Black Artists for Freedom and five demands here.
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