Can Pop Stars Be Political Organizers?

Last week, the musician and actor Janelle Monáe sent a message to her 4.7 million social media followers, offering a remarkable delineation of the responsibilities of modern pop stars. “I do not consider myself an activist or an organizer,” she wrote amid ongoing protests decrying the racist killings of Black victims like George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor. “I have a platform. YES BUT there are people who ARE REALLY ABOUT THAT LIFE DAILY. I want to amplify their voices. Drop your name and org below and ways YOU NEED SUPPORT.” While there’s a long history of politically engaged celebrities and social justice organizations working together, the power dynamic between these two forces is changing in the midst of a global pandemic and a racial crisis rooted in existential Black suffering…

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