Editor’s Note: At the bottom of this article we will be providing links to resources in order to support people of colour through meaningful action: specifically black communities around the world. We stand in full solidarity with the black community against the trauma of racism and police brutality – we absolutely condemn the abhorrent systemic racial oppression rooted in our society.
Yesterday (June 2nd) the majority of music publications and labels around the world participated in an online demonstration of solidarity with the black community – specifically following the horrific murder of George Floyd in the USA – who have been repeatedly plagued by violent racial discrimination and murder at the hands of the police and military across the globe for decades.
The initiative specifically aimed at the music industry, entitled #theshowmustbepaused, was created by two black women in music: Jamila Thomas, senior director of marketing at Atlantic Records and former Atlantic Records employee Brianna Agyemang “in the observance of the long standing racism and inequality that exists from the boardroom to the boulevard.”
“The music industry is a multi-billon dollar industry. An industry that has profited predominantly from Black Art. Our mission is to hold the industry at large, including major corporations + their partners who benefit from the efforts, struggles and successes of Black people accountable.”
Along with #blackouttuesday and a myriad of protests across the world, many major music corporations and labels released statements in support of this initiative; an example, Interscope Records announced they will not be releasing any music this week (June 1st – June 5th) stating:
Universal Music Group, which includes labels such as Interscope, stated that they will be following this example by pursuing continued support in fighting racial discrimination by establishing an “inclusion task force”. As reported by Variety, chairman Lucian Grainge issued a memo to the company’s staff outlining their intention, with the “task force” to be headed by chief counsel Jeff Harleston.
Read the full memo below:
The news this past week has been horrendous. There is simply no other way to put it.
First, let me stress that, for those who are understandably traumatized by these events, resources are available to you, including professional counseling. I encourage anyone in need to take advantage of them.
This week, yet again we saw our society’s most painful realities about race, justice and inequality brought—cruelly and brutally — into the harsh light of day. But no matter how shocked or saddened or infuriated we may be, we cannot just despair. We must act. Each one of us has a duty to do what we can to alter those realities, to help build a society that is far less unequal and much more just.
For some, that starts with protest — the simple constitutionally guaranteed right to be heard.
To be clear, we strongly support protest initiatives such as Black Out Tuesday and other valuable and heartfelt non-violent protests. And, by “we,” that is to say not only UMG, but our labels, UMPG and our other companies — each of which will be communicating about it in its own unique voice.
But, as we know, protest is just a start, not a solution. Real and constructive change—lasting change—requires sustained focus and unwavering commitment over time.
For sure, I am proud of our leadership and our efforts to improve ourselves. But that, too, is only a start. We must do more and now is the time to do it —and to do it with an unprecedented sense of urgency. Even more importantly, we must commit ourselves not merely for this week, but we must continue that commitment—without let-up—in the months and years ahead.
So here’s what we’re going to do.
I’ve appointed our General Counsel Jeff Harleston to lead a UMG Task Force to accelerate our efforts in areas such as inclusion and social justice. Jeff isconvening a group of qualified executives from throughout the company to review our current programs, identify gaps and deficiencies, update our plan where it’s outdated, propose new initiatives, and ensure that these issues remain at the top of our agenda.
Everything—raising our voices in Congress, providing additional employee education and assistance, enhancing our philanthropy, using the power of our astonishingly vast catalog to effect change—everything will be on the table. The systemic nature of the problems are just too critical to leave anything off.
Jeff will start filling you in on the details next week.
We all have much to do. I ask each of you to seriously consider how you can best help UMG become a better and more just place to work, and how we can use our influence in culture to make the world a more just place to live. There will be ample opportunities for everyone in the company to be involved including our artists and songwriters.
Music has always been a driving force for inspiring social change. The voices of our artists and the songs of our songwriters have changed the world. And they will continue to do just that.
We will amplify those voices.
We will address these issues.
Thank you again for all you do. Stay safe.
Universal Music Group
With this being said, while corporations taking action is different to the ways we can fight back as individuals – most importantly those of us who are not black – we have a responsibility to be allies in the fight for racial justice and equality in every manner possible.
Please see below regarding resources from around the globe: ranging from petitions, to donations and direct resources for contacting state representatives – there is a plethora of actions we are able to take that must be an ultimate priority.
May all those in the black community who have lost their lives to racial oppression rest in power.
Linked below are compiled Google Documents that house an extensive library of information and resources. Please make sure to use the resources at your disposal to educate, petition, donate and protest against this worldwide, horrific injustice.
Feature Image: (Free To Use Image) by Logan Weaver on Unsplash