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Why #TheShowMustBePaused In Solidarity With The Black Community

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Why #TheShowMustBePaused In Solidarity With The Black Community

10:00 AM, Wednesday, 6/03/2020 By: Sarah Pittman

“Love black people like you love black culture,” a homemade sign at a protest in Fresno, Calif., on Sunday declared, a plea to give the same attention to fighting racism and taking a stand against the tragic death of George Floyd at the hands of police as people devote themselves to their favorite black musicians, comedians and sports stars. 
Two black women who work in the music business – Jamila Thomas, senior director of marketing, and Brianna Agyemany, senior artist campaign manager at Platoon and former senior director of marketing at Atlantic – brought this message to the industry this week with an initiative called #TheShowMustBePaused. The campaign sought to interrupt the work week to spend Tuesday, June 2 as “a day to take a beat for an honest, reflective and productive conversation about what actions we need to collectively take to support the Black community.” 
The statement on theshowmustbepaused.com added, “The music industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. An industry that has profited predominantly from Black art. Our mission is to hold the industry at large, including major corporations + their partners who benefit from the efforts, struggles and successes of Black people accountable. To that end, it is the obligation of these entities to protect and empower the Black communities that have made them disproportionately wealthy in ways that are measurable and transparent.” 
Major record labels,streaming services and influential executives across the music biz quickly pledged to join in the campaign, along with promoters like AEG Presents, September Management and artists such as Phish, which participated by postponing its weekly webcast. 
Pollstar also took part in the #TheShowMustBePaused campaign in solidarity with the black community, ceasing publishing on our website and social media accounts for the day. 
But of course, the point wasn’t just to pause business as usual but to focus on the thoughtful conversations happening during that time – and what will come next. Without reflection and action steps, pausing business for the day or solely posting a black square on social media would be nothing more than performative or virtue signalling. And that doesn’t help anyone, nor does it honor George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Abery and countless Black citizens who have lost their lives because of police brutality and racism. 
The protests that have spread from Floyd’s home of Minneapolis to hundred of cities throughout the U.S., along with international locations in Germany, New Zealand and Japan have inspired so many of us to examine our own biases, white privilege and the effects of systemic racism that infiltrate just about every aspect of our society, from education to employment rates to healthcare and the disproportionate effect COVID-19 has had on communities of color.  
There is so much work to be done to fight racism and bring about change, including informing oneself about becoming an antiracist studying the history and listening to today’s informed leaders; signing petitions; contacting our elected officials to demand justice; voting; protesting and donating to organizations supporting these efforts. 
Putting the news on hold for the day at Pollstar gave staff a chance to discuss the next steps our platforms can take to move diversity and inclusivity forward. Most immediately we decided to change this week’s magazine to focus on our ndustry’s response to the protests and these issues.

While opportunities for people of color in the music business have improved over the years, we still have so far to go as an industry. As the statement on theshowmustbepaused.com points out, the campaign was launched in “observance of the long-standing racism and inequality that exists from the boardroom to the boulevard.”      Pollstar is committed to diversity and inclusivity, both internally and in the manner we cover the stories of the business. We can and must do more to uphold these values, including the executives we feature in interviews, along with folks included in our One-on-One and Town Hall digital sessions. As part of this commitment, Pollstar will be launching a new interview series called “Voices Of Live.” We look forward to listening to and spotlighting amazing executives from diverse backgrounds.  

Stay tuned for more from #TheShowMustBePaused initiative, which promised, “This is not just a 24-hour initiative. We are and will be in the fight for the long haul. A plan of action will be announced.” 

Lastly, we leave you with these words of wisdom by former First Lady Michelle Obama, which she recently shared on Twitter:
“Race and racism is a reality that so many of us grow up learning to just deal with. But if we ever hope to move past it, it can’t just be on people of color to deal with it.
“It’s up to all of us – Black, white, everyone – no matter how well-meaning we think we might be, to do the honest, uncomfortable work of rooting it out. It starts with self-examination and listening to those whose lives are different from our own.”

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