Protesters have filled Charlotte’s streets since last Tuesday, when Keith Lamont Scott was killed by police and became another name with a hashtag circulating around Black Twitter.
The #KeithScott incident was just the tipping point. For years, Charlotte has been silently overlooking the wounds of:
- The unspoken “separate but equal” neighborhood schooling policies.
- The lack of policy demanding that developers provide affordable economically mixed housing.
- The unspoken segregation of Charlotte’s leisure culture.
- The extreme lack of upward mobility opportunities.
Experiencing the unfavorable side of systemic racism and classism is very uncomfortable. When the unspoken norm states that one must prove their humanity first before being seen and respected, it’s very uncomfortable. So, when the uncomfortable experiences of the systemically oppressed people of Charlotte present these inequities loudly on the national stage, it should make ALL Charlotteans very uncomfortable. It should make all Charlotteans so uncomfortable that they demand policymakers and policy enforcers make the necessary changes to the system that will allow equity to happen at all levels within the Queen City.
Charlotte IS NOT OKAY. Charlotte should not be rushing to heal. We cannot rush to cover this infected wound of racism and classism without accessing it, cleaning it, dressing it and providing outpatient care instruction about how to make sure the infection clears up and remains healthy.
To help you understand how we got here, we’ve created the Charlotte Protest Soundtrack. Charlotte’s sonic arts sector has not overlooked these ills in our city. They have been laying out the emotional and mental state of “The Other Charlotte” for years now.
So, if you still don’t quite understand why Charlotteans should not stop protesting, and, if you are tired of debating why #AllLivesMatter is so offensive to #BlackLivesMatter, then let these Charlotte artists do the talking for you.
(1) “Turn Down for What?” — Bluz
This 2014 spoken word piece by Emmy-award-winning Charlotte artist Bluz provides insight into what black oppression feels like. It declares that there comes a time, a moment, a catalytic incident that triggers one to become unapologetically black and demand the right to just be you without worry of how your blackness may scare or offend others not willing to connect with you or your culture.
(2) Colors of Man “Intercession” — Mason Parker, Terance Murray (Shoot 2 Edit Studios), Eric Ndelo (DRC ApeParel) and @KiaTheWriter
This early September 2016 spoken word piece drafted by urban contemporary artist Mason Parker was presented at the art gallery showcase “DaDa Soiree: A Night of Absurd Art” at C3 Lab. This piece is just one in a series of four spoken word pieces that uses lighting and poetry to showcase the many emotional sides of a black man. The intent of the “Colors of Man” series is to showcase the absurdity of the need to humanize the black man for society to accept that killing a human being based solely on their higher level of melanin is not acceptable.
(3) “The Protest Song” — LeAnna Eden & The Garden of
This early September 2016 release showcases the emotional heartbreak that black people feel when they see a new police killing followed with a new name of a black person with a hashtag attached to it.
(3) More of the CLT Protest Soundtrack on SoundCloud, curated by @KiaTheWriter
The following is a collection of songs released on Soundcloud by Charlotte-based artists between 2013-2016. This set list takes the listener through the frustration of working as a cog in a system that is not designed to allow you to experience upward mobility because of your race or your socioeconomic standing at birth.
- King Carter — “Protect and Serve Us”
- Erick Lottary — “Blame Em”
- Mason Parker — “Move It Up”
- Deniro Farrar — “Nowhere To Run”
- Elevator Jay — “This Ain’t Life”
- Quentin Talley — “Go To Work (Debt’s Worth)”
- Jason Jet ft. Nige Hood — “Broken Black Faces”
If you know of any songs by Charlotte-based artists that should be added to the CLT Protest Soundtrack Playlist please send the link to my SoundCloud inbox at https://soundcloud.com/kiathewriter.
Photo: Jeff Siner/Charlotte Observer