Each month, SoulTrain.com highlights musicians and artists who use their platform to bring greater awareness to a social issue. In a music and entertainment industry whose focus is more on money than on activism, one can only imagine what obstacles artists may face when they decide to speak out publicly against injustice. For the Justice for Flint benefit concert, held on Oscar Sunday and hosted by Blackout for Human Rights, artists did more than just “speak out.” They combined their power and strength to bring comfort and support to a community where injustice is running through the pipes of their homes. The benefit concert, which raised a reported $145,000 for the water crisis, was not only an obvious example of great use of a platform, but it was a demonstration in humanity.
The beautiful thing about humanity is that in times of crisis or injustice, we can find a glimmer of hope in the actions of caring people. It’s almost like there is a cause and effect relationship between injustice and human compassion: When a terrible injustice or a crisis ensues, those of us who are capable of caring for people beyond our own immediate world respond in droves. In the Justice for Flint benefit concert, organized by Creed director Ryan Coogler, director Ava DuVernay, comedian Hannibal Buress, and actor Jesse Williams, the outpouring of compassion and support was powerful. Artists like Janelle Monáe, Stevie Wonder, and dozens of others used their voices to support the Flint community. Yet, the purpose of the concert extended beyond what one can only assume was a brilliant show. As Coogler stated, the goal was to “humanize the issue.” The concert also provided an opportunity for residents to share their own stories via the live stream, and viewers live tweeted the event and made donations in support of Flint’s residents.
It goes without saying that the Flint water crisis is a horrific act of injustice with massive consequences. It may be years before the public is made fully aware of the depth of the sickness the people of Flint endured. There are many levels of injustice and outright disregard for human life that exist within this real life horror story, and the lack of criminal responsibility is sickening. Yet, somewhere in this muddled story lies a glimmer of hope. The outpouring of support for Flint is a reminder of the compassion that can rise in the face of adversity.
Shanita Hubbard is a mom, writer, and social justice advocate. Follow her on Twitter.