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On June 2, 2020, in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, the now-infamous Blackout Tuesday (#theshowmustbepaused and its UK equivalent #theshowmustbepaused) was held and black squares were posted all over social media with pledges to make fundamental changes. It was a particularly popular movement in the music industry where Black executives are rare, despite the overwhelming popularity of Black music.
For many, it was seen as tokenistic, performative and encouraging hashtag activism, and that suspicion only grew stronger as it spread beyond the music industry and began being adopted by corporations with increasingly cynical and superficial motives. It has now been over a year since Blackout Tuesday and it’s time to reflect on what has really been done to make good on the many promises made.
The Black Music Coalition (BMC) was founded in the days following Blackout Tuesday to hold the UK music industry to its word and make sure the countless promises were fulfilled. One of the first things they did was to issue an open letter to the industry, stating that “for far too long, the global Black community have faced racial injustice, inequality and disenfranchisement across all aspects of society and [that] here in the UK, [it was] no different”.
This Friday (September 24), the BMC’s YouTube channel will stream two panel discussions filmed the previous day at Abbey Road Studios’ Studio One at 1 and 2pm. This panel discussion, which will be closed to the public, will see the panelists discuss their experiences being a Black person navigating their sector of the industry and the changes they’ve seen in their sector since Blackout Tuesday. Theo Oliver (PIAS), Ghadir (XL), and Benson Udia (Universal) will give their insights from the perspective of labels, while Jordan Hallpike (Ibiza Rocks/Merky Fest), Ibrahim Kamara (GUAP), Alex Ampofo (Metropolis), Eki Igbinoba (Clarks) and Lola Oyewole (TikTok) will give their insight from the media side.
Then on Monday (September 27), the BMC will be hosting a panel discussion—in partnership with events curators The Future Is—in the iconic Elgar Room at the Royal Albert Hall in front of a live audience of 150 people. One of the key tenets of the BMC is legacy building, making lasting changes that have real world effects beyond temporary appeasement—and that’s exactly what this discussion aims to achieve. The panelists, Zeon Richards and Wretch 32, will get take stock of what, if any, changes we’ve seen since Blackout Tuesday, how these changes are being accounted (and for whose benefit), and how we can make sure those changes can be built to last while also evolving with the world.
For more information on both panels, head here.