Neutrality? In THIS Political Climate?
A Discussion Concerning Music and Politics
by Erin Christie
Our world feels worn down, like the ends of your favorite frayed pair of jeans, the holes ripped a little too wide, the seams becoming jagged and tired. The world that we have never really known as particularly peaceful or “great” has suddenly begun to crumble even further, the rise of a new kind of modern day Nazism joined with the white supremacist agenda and utterly hateful mindset of the Trump regime spreading further and further, clouding the minds of our country’s lowest. With such a dangerous mentality so normalized by our own government (the mentality that bigotry, violence, and hate are acceptable), minorities - such as those within the LGBTQIA+ community, the disabled, and people of color - have been furnished with targets on their backs. Countless lives have been put at risk, this horrifying phenomenon only increasing further under our current administration.
Faced with a choice between ideologies, many people begin to pick sides, expressing their views on social media and through protest, strong opinions showcased on both sides of the spectrum. However, many more people choose not to speak about what is happening throughout our world, failing to acknowledge the pain and suffering that so many are enduring day in and day out.
In a time as volatile as this, your voice, whether you want to acknowledge it or not, is one of the most powerful weapons that you can possess. Especially if you posses a platform of any kind, - whether you can reach hundreds, thousands, or even millions with your words - staying silent about issues that affect our world is almost as damaging as outright support of the oppressor. Silence, as the old saying goes, is truly violent; in not speaking against bigotry and hatred, your lack of outcry can appear as acceptance or approval. Allowing bigots and supremacists to get away with their actions against minorities (including blatant physical and vocal damage to those communities) only inflates the issue.
For minorities, whether black, brown, gay, non-gender conforming, or otherwise, their oppression is a daily struggle. Many people who argue against being vocally political or choosing sides may say that “they don’t want to be controversial” or that they “want to focus on positive things” and this type of outlook, frankly, is absolutely ridiculous. Minorities don’t have the privilege to shut everything that is happening in the world out. In not speaking up and using your voice to work against the oppressor, you are directly fueling the system against thousands of people who don’t have the ability to just ignore what is happening. Minorities can’t run away. By choosing to remain neutral, you’re making a clear statement: you care more about your own comfort and peace of mind than the fact that people are suffering. Personal discomfort is not as important as ensuring the safety and wellbeing of countless minorities. It is so important that white people especially take a stand against fascism, white supremacy, racism, Nazism, and so much more that plagues our society in order to truly spark change.
Music, for many, is a platform by which they can spread their own beliefs, express their views, and reach a wide audience (whilst simultaneously doing what they love and creating timeless art which can be shared for years to come). In having the ability to touch many with what you create, musicians have a large impact on our world, and especially on the fans that they acquire. Like any other celebrity, musicians’ voices are amplified to an even larger degree, allowing them to have a huge influence on those who they reach. Musicians, and celebrities in general, must recognize that their opinions and choices create ripples and spark ideas within those who hear them.By speaking out against oppression - by making a point to denounce bigotry - musicians have a special ability to influence their audience to also do the same and look into the cause further. What we see, hear, and read affects our own outlook on the world, and music is not an exception. When an artist that we love reaches out to be an ally to those marginalized, such actions can also inspire fans to do the same. (Of course, it must be noted that people are allowed to make their own decisions about what they believe in, support, and do with their lives. However, hearing the positive message from of acceptance and love from musicians raises awareness, educates masses, and combats bigotry.)
For any person with a platform, choosing to stay silent and neutral in terms of issues occurring in the world creates an atmosphere of passivity that fosters hatred. In order to make strides towards peace and to eliminate racism, fascism, neo-Nazism, white supremacy, and so many other terrible belief- systems, we have to be willing to take a stand and join together against hate, no matter what that takes. It all starts with a voice, and a million other voices can follow suit.
If you want to know more about how to be a better ally and using your platform for good, check out these links.