On Sunday, June 28th, over 50 artists and tens of thousands of fans came together for Justice Comes Alive, a one-day, virtual festival harnessing the power of music to bring about collective change in response to racial inequality. The donation-based streaming event generated $55,000 and counting in funds for the participating artists, who remain out of work as the pandemic continues, as well as a number of social justice-oriented causes via PLUS1 For Black Lives Fund.
The 12-hour live-stream marathon featured new musical contributions and enlightening conversations by an array of amazing artists from around the world including famed pianist and vocalist Patrice Rushen who joined co-host Nigel Hall (Lettuce) to discuss how the conversation and fight for racial equality can continue to move forward.
Hall’s first of three pointed questions concerned what young people today can to do ensure that the work of their ancestors who fought for civil rights was not in vein. Rushen’s simple response: Speak up. She went on to highlight the advent of viral technology as a way of amplifying and authenticating the voices of the maligned, noting, “It’s not longer our word versus the oppressor’s word. It’s right here in front of you to see.”
This point of “speaking up” also extends beyond the youth of today, Rushen asserted. She and Hall discussed “the talk” that all black children receive from their parents about dealing with the police, a conversation that Hall affirms he has had with his sons. However, “the talk” is just one part of the equation, Rushen explained” “They don’t know how they’re going to feel when it happens to them. So that’s another part of what this is about, that conversation, that dialogue also has to continue so you can negotiate and process what’s happening and stay on point.”
Hall then asked about exactly what white people can do to “come correct” regarding racism and the persistent racial inequality that exists in our country. Rushen responded with a clever metaphor for all of the well-meaning white people who don’t always come prepared to conversations about race:
Anytime you want to learn about something, you want to ask people about something, you do a little homework…you don’t have to know everything, but at least have an approach that says ‘I’m really interested in this, I really want to know this, I found out so-and-so.’ If you need to fix a washer in your sink, you go to the internet sometimes before you even call a plumber so you can see ‘is this something I can do myself?’ Sometimes you can and sometimes you cannot, but if you’re going to have to call the plumber at least you can say ‘Yo, this is what’s going on, I tried to do so-and-so, it didn’t work for me, that’s why I called you.’
Do a little homework before you start opening the door to these conversations so that your dialogue is perceived in a genuine interest and genuine want to know… and then not be afraid to feel the pain.
Lastly, Hall asked Rushen about the biggest, most important changes she would like to see as they relate to the Black Lives Matter movement. Obviously, there is no simple answer to that question, but she was confident that if conversations, like this one between herself and Hall, about “why” things are the way they are in this country become a part of our routine, then that will lead to genuine, lasting change.
Relive the conversation between Patrice Rushen and Nigel Hall during Justice Comes Alive below. If you are able, please consider making a donation to Plus1 For Black Lives Fund via www.JusticeComesAlive.com.
Justice Comes Alive Conversations – Patrice Rushen & Nigel Hall
Presented by Live For Live Music in partnership with PLUS1 and Nugs.TV, Justice Comes Alive was conceived as a way to harness the power of music to bring about collective change in response to racial inequality. All funds raised from Justice Comes Alive will be split evenly between the artists on the bill and the PLUS1 For Black Lives Fund, which was developed to address and continue the fight against anti-Black racism and violence in the U.S.
Directly supporting organizations like Equal Justice Initiative, Impact Justice, and The Bail Project, the PLUS1 For Black Lives Fund focuses on empowering Black communities, movement building, keeping people out of the criminal justice system while dismantling it more broadly, and a collective, international narrative change toward the equitable treatment of Black people. 30% of the PLUS1 for Black Lives Fund is also committed to small grants for Black and Indigenous-led grassroots efforts combating racism. For more information on Justice Comes Alive, head here.