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Between images of past and present civil rights protests and footage of violent police encounters, singer Teyana Taylor shows support of the Black Lives Matter movement in her music video for “Still.”
Introduced as “A Spike Tey Joint” — a reference to the credit regularly seen at the beginning of director Spike Lee’s films — the self-directed video combines archival footage of Black civil rights leaders and protests with footage of modern Black Lives Matter protests and victims of police brutality. The five-minute video opens on a clip of Malcolm X during a 1962 speech. During the event, he tells the crowd, “We are oppressed. We are exploited. We are downtrodden. We are denied not only civil but even human rights.”
The names of Black Americans killed at the hands of police and racist violence, from Emmett Till and Tamir Rice to Rodney King and Breonna Taylor, steadily flash across the screen as the video begins. As the video goes on, the singer continues to draw upon the imagery of prominent Black activists and leaders, including Huey P. Newton, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Angela Davis.
At several points, she also dresses as Taylor, Trayvon Martin and George Floyd. Taylor can also be seen holding a violin, in reference to Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old Black man from Aurora, Colorado who, after being placed in a chokehold by police and being sedated by paramedics, went into cardiac arrest on the way to the hospital and died several days later.
Among the video’s several sequences of graphic and disturbing imagery is a montage of images from Till’s open casket, which appears alongside body camera footage and audio of George Floyd’s deadly altercation with police. For that, Taylor has faced some criticism on social media by those who question her decision to include the audio and footage.
In a recent post on Instagram, Taylor wrote, “We are STILL emotional. We STILL keep fighting for love, justice. Yet we STILL keep losing our beautiful black lives. Where’s our healing?”
She went on to say that “there wasn’t one day that went by in the editing room that I didn’t shed a tear,” after revealing that she had filmed the video several months ago. “Its crazy how to this day our cry for love is STILL so relevant today and plans to be for a very long time… There wasn’t one day that went by in the editing room that I didn’t shed a tear.”
“Still” is off of Taylor’s most recent release The Album, the follow-up to her Kanye West–produced 2018 album K.T.S.E. Released on Juneteenth (June 19), the annual day commemorating enslaved people’s emancipation in the United States, the LP features guest appearances from Erykah Badu, Missy Elliott, Ms. Lauryn Hill, and Quavo, among others.
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