From George Floyd to João Pedro: Brazilian artists join #BlackOutTuesday

The murder of Floyd by a white policeman happened a week after the death of the black boy João Pedro, during a police operation in São Gonçalo, in Rio de Janeiro

The death of black American George Floyd by white police officer Derek Chauvin on May 25th, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in the United States, incited massive protests (# Justice4Floyd) across American cities, strengthened other existing movements, such as Black Lives Matter, and triggered a new string of demonstrations against racism in Brazil and other countries.

Floyd’s murder took place exactly a week after the death of the 14-year-old black boy João Pedro Mattos, during a police operation on Salgueiro’s community, in the city of São Gonçalo, in the Metropolitan Region of Rio de Janeiro. According to the official autopsy of João Pedro’s body and witnesses, he was hit by a bullet in the back after police raided his home allegedly in pursuit of a drug dealer.

In the wake of these demonstrations, this Tuesday (2nd), companies, such as Sony and Google, American radio stations, record labels (Warner Music Group, Sony Music, and Universal Music Group), producers, and platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, and YouTube Music joined the #BlackOutTuesday act.

Jamila Thomas, senior director of marketing for Atlantic Records, wrote in a statement to colleagues in the music industry on Instagram on Friday, co-launching the #TheShowMustBePaused campaign and labeling today’s initiative as Blackout Tuesday. The idea is that normal activities would be interrupted today and that people, companies, and organizations would use this time to reflect and learn more about how to contribute to the cause.

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Several Brazilian artists also joined the campaign, including Thiaguinho, Anitta, and Preta Gil.

As part of today’s demonstrations, the rapper Emicida and the singer Drik Barbosa postponed the release of the song Sementes (‘Seeds’, in English), which would take place today, to the next 9th. The song is part of the national campaign against child labor this year in the country.

“I spent the last few weeks thinking about the song ‘Seeds’ with Drik Barbosa. We were immersed in a lot of data about child labor and how the pandemic situation pushes a series of families to the margins of society. Under pressure, these families have to put children in an inhumane situation. Once again, the social gaps that we have produced since before the pandemic are proving to be much more deadly than the pandemic itself. When you look at Covid-19, you see that it is a virus that, in fact, has a low lethality. Our social chasms are deadly. The case of the USA, the tragedy of the boy João Pedro, that of the other boy João Vitor, that of the boy David Nascimento … The latter two, even, killed by the Brazilian State after the case of João Pedro, which is an extremely recent death … No, we can forget about the musician who was shot 80 times by the army and not even the girl Ágatha Felix. It is for these people that we join the movement to stop show business right now, “ wrote Emicida in a statement sent to LABS and other media outlets.

Laboratorio Fantasma, a company led by Emicida and Evandro Fioti, said in a statement that it chose to be part of the movement “because it understands that it is urgent to reflect and act to end this system that excludes, oppresses, makes people and black people dead”.

In addition to the new song by Emicida, the company also postponed the launch of the new acoustic EP by the Brazilian singer, songwriter and rapper Rael, entitled Capim-Cidreira, which was scheduled for June 10th, and the second part of the multiplatform project by Emicida called AmorElo Prisma (a mix of music, lives, podcast and other creations by the Brazilian rapper). 

“It is for Ágatha Felix, Douglas Martins Rodrigues, and João Pedro. But also for George Floyd, for Claudia Ferreira and Marielle Franco. Also for the 5 young blacks who had their car shot by 111 shots. ONE HUNDRED AND ELEVEN. All of them were victims of racist violence and the stance of countries that reap – cruelly – the lives of the people that we encourage to continue dreaming through our songs “, said the company in the statement, citing the names of several of the black victims of violence in Brazil.

The manifestations of activists and artists arise from a fact that can no longer be ignored. In September last year, the Brazilian Public Security Forum released the 13th edition of the Yearbook of Violence, a survey that the institution does every year, compiling and analyzing data from police records on crime, the prison system, and public security spending in the country. parents.

One of the highlights of the survey showed in numbers what the country’s black and vulnerable communities have felt for a long time: after analyzing more than 7,900 records of police interventions carried out between 2017 and 2018 and which resulted in deaths, the survey showed that 75.4% of the victims of the Brazilian police were black.

But the pain goes well beyond those numbers, and the hashtags that accompany the current demonstrations express this: #ParemDeNosMatar (“Stop Killing Us”, in Portuguese, the title of Cidinha da Silva‘s 2016 book on the genocide of the country’s black population, which has also been used as an expression in several manifestations since then), #JustiçaPorJoãoPedro (“Justice for João Pedro”, with the same intentions of the movement that calls for justice for George Floyd), #VidasNegrasImportam (a translation of the American movement that has absolutely everything to do with the Brazilian reality), and #AlvosDoGenocídio (“Targets of Genocide”, a hashtag that denounces the systematic murder of black lives by the Brazilian State).

Last May 28th, a big event was organized by Parem de Nos Matar and 79 other community organizations from across the Metropolitan Region of Rio. Among the main demands of all these movements are “the end of deadly public security policies, the fight against structural racism and impunity, and, in a very practical way, the end of police operations during school hours” in the communities of the big Brazillian cities, according to Rio On Watch–a project launched to bring visibility to the voices of the favelas in the period leading up to the Olympics of 2016 and that ended up growing and becoming a permanent news website.

In Brazil, demonstrations against racism are also taking shape in the midst of pro-democracy protests and anti-republican attitudes by President Jair Bolsonaro, who has instigated his supporters to confront the country’s democratic powers and institutions. For analysts, one movement tends to feed the other in the coming months, especially if the government’s response to the new coronavirus pandemic does not improve.