Unless you've had your head in the sand these past few weeks, you probably know what's happening in Baltimore. Following the murder of Freddie Gray at the hands of the police, Baltimore is standing up to the growing issue of police brutality in the USA. The collective anger of the black community in Baltimore erupted this week as people took to the streets in protest.
As a black woman from London, I can only understand the black experience of my brothers and sisters stateside in a limited way. The level of racism, brutality and discrimination that occurs in the US is unparalleled to that which we experience here, no question. My heart aches for those having to live in a society where the people put there to protect you are the ones you have to be most fearful of; and Freddie Gray's death is just one in a long line of highly publicised incidents where police brutality, murder and of course, injustices against African Americans occur.
I recieved this submission to COZY mag about 20 minutes ago, and I knew I had to share it.
22-year old Joy Postell is a singer/songwriter from Baltimore. The Los Angeles transplant credits her mother, also a musician, for starting her music journey early in choir and musical theatre, and cites the likes of Donny Hathaway, Marvin Gaye and Lauryn Hill as influences to her bluesy sound.
Joy sent me a piece she had been working on entitled "Hands Up Don't Shoot", created in direct response to the murder of Freddie Gray and the sentiments of the Baltimore people. Joy tells us, "I wrote ‘Hands Up, Don’t Shoot’ to shed light and to give honor to the countless victims of police brutality. From Emmett Till, Rodney King to Michael Brown and Freddie Gray, it seems as though not much has changed." And it's true. The current social and political climate in the US, especially surrounding relations to African Americans is not dissimilar from the protests that took place during the civil rights movement.
When asked about the protests occurring in Baltimore, Joy says "These protests reflect the amount of rage bubbling in black communities, and for me, I believe that music is one of the most powerful forms of dialogue that we have. So, I wrote the song with the intent to paint the picture of oppression against black people that has been perpetuated throughout American history. It’s time for us to unite and extend a helping hand to our fellow brothers and sisters in need.” A deftly put sentiment that I think everyone at COZY can agree with. It's time for unity.
Accompanied by guitarist Steve Francell, singer Joy Postell delivers the record carrying Baltimore soul in her spirit. Compelled by the protests occurring across the states and in her hometown, "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" illustrates the brutality in musical form. Check it out below.