Rhiannon Giddens has had a wide and varied career, and her response to the Charleston murders shows that there is still more talent to explore. She’ll be in Brooklyn on Saturday.
I found this video via NPR Music’s First Watch. Please take a few minutes to watch it. The imagery and symbolism and message are appropriately heavy-handed; this is no time for subtlety. And I appreciate the final message — literally spelled out for her audience. Know Your History. Know Your Mind. Speak Up. Be Loud.
Because guess what? It’s been four weeks — just four weeks — since nine people were gunned down in their church. And while it seems like a lot has happened with flags symbolizing institutionalized hate and a President singing “Amazing Grace” and the illumination of a ridiculously irresponsible policy regarding background checks for firearms, our country is still awash in guns and scores of people are shot and killed every day.
It’s been only two months since a teacher and mother was gunned down in front of her home by the father of her child.
It’s also been only three months since 15-year old Armoni Sexton was shot and killed. He loved basketball.
It’s been only four months since a store owner was shot and killed as he tried to help a girl move to safety during a gang fight.
It’s been only five months since a son was shot and killed at his father’s liquor store. It was 4 PM on a Sunday.
And then we’re into last year. And these were just a few of New Jersey’s gun deaths. And that’s from a state with the 5th LOWEST gun death rate in the USA.
This list also doesn’t touch on things like an unarmed man shot by police or the mother of nine who made almost two dozen domestic violence calls over years before being shot to death by her still on active duty ex-husband.
All this to say that Rhiannon Giddens’ call to action in her response to the Charleston murders is clear.
And yes, Know your History. Know your Mind. Speak Up. Be Loud. Refuse to look away from the Ugly, and learn to appreciate Hope when it makes itself available. Honor those lost with Action.
Stay Horrified. Stay Angry. Stay Inspired.