The Show Must Be Paused

The music industry just pressed pause. It’s time to stop. That’s right, we need to hit the pause button. My birth country of the United States is a police state. Police brutality is something we hear a lot about in the news and when you’re outside the US you’d think that it’s not a problem here. That’s what I’ve caught British people and Canadians saying, when there have been incidents there as well.

I remember when I saw David Byrne in concert and he did a cover of Janelle Monae’s “Hell You Talmbout”. In 2019, 1,099 people were killed by the police. Even more were seriously injured.

In 2020, we say the names of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. There’s definitely more names and that’s the sad thing, there is such a racist culture in the police.

Americans have had enough. The world has had enough. For days, people have taken to the streets in the middle of a pandemic to express their anger with the shitty police culture and the lack of accountability.

Even overseas, there have been large protests in London and Amsterdam in solidarity with Americans. Being an American living in Ireland with my Irish husband, the differences in politics and how our countries handle things come up daily. My husband is always shocked and angered at how the police always seem to escalate everything.

Americans are tired and upset. Their anger and frustration is like a volcano or a shaken up bottle of fizzy drink. The anger is building up and eventually there’s a breaking point and they explode! The government did such an abysmal job with looking after its citizens, which is supposed to be its job.

Trillions were given to corporations, rather than average people. Americans lost their jobs as the economy had to shut down for public safety and health, but they haven’t gotten UBI. Americans are getting bills higher than a person’s salary for coronavirus treatment.

If this pandemic showed us anything, those who aren’t radicalised about the broken healthcare system already, will be now. Remember the corporate Democrats saying you can keep your healthcare tied to your employment? Remember them saying that people love their health insurance? With the job losses come the loss of healthcare. Why on earth are those two things tied together? America loves to say that all lives matter, but they really don’t. In America, it’s rich white lives matter and corporations’ lives matter. Get fucked if you’re anything but.

The unemployment system is broken. I’ve known people who couldn’t get a hold of anyone from the unemployment office and their applications essentially landed in a black hole, never to be heard from again. Meanwhile, when my brother applied for unemployment in March and got a job within a week, he still gets unemployment cheques to this day and he’s been trying to send them back to the government. People need that money.

Oh and as for that UBI? Fuck that, a tiny $1200 once off means tested stimulus cheque. University students need not apply. Who does this help? People need more. It’s no wonder that Targets are being looted. When you can’t afford the everyday necessities, what’s left to do? You gotta steal to survive and that is completely understandable.

The riots and protests that have swept the nation were a long time coming. You wanted to live in the 60s, oh yeah, you’re gonna get that. But you won’t have the beautiful fashions and the bands of the 60s. Instead, here’s the political protests, anger, and fear.

The 60s really weren’t the beautiful flower power hippie time that boomers like to reminisce about. Sure, that was a part of it, but think of all the protest songs from the time period. People had the same frustrations then. It’s just they didn’t have smartphones and the internet to document it as deeply as we can now. If they had smartphones, we’d see an even truer picture of the 60s.

Why am I saying something on this? In 2015, I originally started this blog as a classic rock blog from a social justice angle. Classic rock was always written off as a white man’s game or referred to as white dad music. Calling classic rock that is not only inaccurate, but it’s erasure of the many Black, Latino, Native American, and Asian musicians who shaped the genre and made it what it is.

Musicians from all different ethnic groups and walks of life were there from the beginning.  Ritchie Valens was the first Latino rock star to make it big, he paved the way for Carlos Santana. Link Wray was a guitar innovator who popularised the power chord and used distortion and feedback in the classic 1958 instrumental, “Rumble”. Cliff Richard was Britain’s first Asian rock star and influenced The Beatles. These musicians were all pre 1960s.

The first rock stars were black: Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Big Joe Turner, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, Little Richard, Goree Carter, and Jimmy Preston to name a few. Black influence in popular music continued throughout the classic rock era – always ahead of the curve: James Brown with funk in the 60s and 70s, Desmond Dekker popularising reggae in Britain in the 60s, Miles Davis with jazz rock, Jimi Hendrix with psychedelic and hard rock in the 60s, Phil Lynott with heavy metal in the 70s and 80s, and Prince mixing so many genres from funk to psychedelic rock in the 80s.

It would be wrong not to say something as a classic rock blogger who started her blog on diversity in music. I’ve always been outspoken about my left libertarian views, but you can’t speak up enough. I won’t judge you if you don’t say anything. Look out for your mental health, everybody. It’s okay to take a break from social media. It’s all about balance.

This isn’t about me. I know that I have the privilege of hiding my ethnicity and no one would know I’m mixed until they ask me or see me with my family. I’ve had my share of bad experiences with the police, but not anything to do with my being Hispanic, but rather my long battle with depression and being an assault survivor. I still don’t trust the police to this day. There needs to be a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, an end to the War on Drugs, and radical reform in the police. Campaign Zero have the right idea.

And most importantly instead of way more resources going to the police, jails, and prisons, let’s get to the root of the problem. Crime doesn’t happen in a vacuum. People commit crimes because they are desperate and poor. Investing in the people will do more for public safety than locking people up. America is no land of the free when it has a prison industrial complex and locks up more people than any other country, yes even more than China.

To be a decent person, you have to look out for others. Say something. We can all do better, no matter what walk of life we come from. Use your voice and privilege. Never stop talking about the racism problems in the world. Racism is a plague and we need to stomp it out.

If you want more resources and links to donate or learn more, here is an excellent Google Doc. Look after yourselves. Only donate if you can afford to. Never underestimate the impact of signing a petition, writing a letter to someone in government, or showing up to a protest.