What can the music industry do about gun violence in the black community?

Tiffany Red is a Grammy-winning songwriter and lawyer who has written hits for Jennifer Hudson, Fantasia, Jason Derulo and Zendaya, among others. She is the founder and executive director of 100 Percenters, a 501 c3 organization whose stated goal is to champion “all music creators with a focus on BIPOC (black, indigenous, people of color) and marginalized creatives.” She has spoken at length about the challenges songwriters face and has written two Juneteenth essays for Variety.

A famous rapper is shot, the music industry cries, makes a few statements, then goes back to business as usual, promoting content that glorifies black murder and trauma.

How could anyone believe that these images and words do not impact the already traumatized psyche of black America and perpetuate harmful stereotypes about black people? I recently posted a clip from Pastor Michael T. Smith’s TEDx Talk on my Instagram, where he talks about how black murder is a marketing strategy. Could the music industry prove him wrong? Unfortunately, at the moment the answer is no. He says: “Nothing should be done to maintain racism. It requires inaction. »

So many people are looking for a more progressive approach to addressing anti-darkness in the music industry, which I refuse to do. We are in an epidemic! We’re out of time. Gun Violence Prevention Group Brady states that “Gun homicide (mass shootings, so-called ‘everyday’ violence, and police-involved shootings) is a universal American threat. But black Americans are 10 times more likely than white Americans to die from it. And black youth fare even worse. Black children and teens are 14 times more likely to die from firearm homicide than their white counterparts.

Based on recent media coverage, it may seem like the number of rappers drying up from gun violence is on the rise — but in reality, it’s ravaging the entire black American male population. In 2020, 52% of all homicides in the United States were against black men – and they represent only 6% of the American population. After the September murder of Rakim Hasheem Allen – known to the world as PnB Rock – I started learning about gun violence in the black community and people, and the numbers are devastating. In Philadelphia alone in 2020, 80% of homicides were against black men. It is not surprising that the most dangerous cities in our country are also the poorest.

So how can the music industry help? Well, just last year the US music industry made $15 billion in revenue with hip-hop being the #1 genre – so it’s only fitting that this industry does a better job of supporting communities where the music comes from. This can be accomplished in several ways, such as better funding for community-run outreach programs, conflict resolution programs, mental health programs, schools, and after-school programs.

More than 7,000 schools across this country no longer have music programs, and those schools are predominantly black. The music industry generates far too much money off the backs of black artists and black culture, so there’s no reason it shouldn’t help our communities in a meaningful way.

Violence, drugs and gangster rap result from an experience lived in an inhuman environment. Living in these conditions has a significant impact on mental health. Our community suffers from PTSD, paranoia, anxiety, depression and more without the support needed to address these issues and heal properly. If you consciously listen to the lyrics of some of the current gangster rap songs, you can hear their pain and trauma. My heart breaks for my brothers and sisters who are struggling to cope, trying not to succumb to all the negativity around them and trying to navigate their way through when they don’t have many options in first place. It’s tragic.

So what can we do? Here are four things I would like you to consider.

1. Use appropriate language; replace “rappers are dying from gun violence at a rapid rate” with “black men are dying from gun violence at a rapid rate”.

2. Read the lyrics to some of your favorite gangster rap songs. Take what the rhythmless song says and ask yourself if you still think the message is healthy for the black community.

3. Invest in underserved black communities where gangster rap comes from as much as you can.

4. Sign the 100 Percenters anti-Blackness open letter.

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