Like the rest of the country, out, proud R&B artist Marck Angel watched with consternation over the past several weeks, as once again, we witnessed Black men coming to grief at the hands of current and former police officers, all of it caught in video. Half a century after the end of Jim Crow laws—segregation and discrimination in the Deep South, enforced by terrorism—Black and brown men are still being wrongfully, often brazenly, killed for alleged minor offenses, or no offense at all. We look at our screens and see an NYPD cop choking the life out of Eric Garner, or the curbside shooting of Philando Castile on Facebook Live by an overzealous Minnesota officer, the attempted murder-by-cop of Christopher Cooper, a Black, gay ornithologist who asked a white woman to leash her dog as the rules of Central Park required, or the contemporary lynching of Ahmaud Arbery by a former cop, his son, and a second accomplice, complete with pickup trucks, shotguns, the N-word, and a Confederate flag adorning the vehicles’ tool box. Then, just ten days ago, again on video, a Minneapolis cop, aided by two of his colleagues, knelt so forcefully on George Floyd’s neck, while he was handcuffed and prone, that Floyd suffocated to death. The Floyd killing was the proverbial last straw, as the country exploded in furious unrest over the cumulative effects of structural racism and repeated killings of people of color by agents of the state.
Marck Angel, a passionate LGBTQ and civil-rights activist, was inspired to create and record a new video, part of his upcoming Seraphim album, which speaks with an eloquent urgency to today’s headlines. “I started this project even before the Ahmaud Arbery video came to light,” Marck says. “I felt I had to make a statement.” Entitled Justice, the video is an impassioned, straightforward appeal for meaningful change that begins by challenging viewers to examine themselves and start forward on evolution. “I wanted [the video] to raise awareness and make people think,” Marck reflects, “and also remember all the lives that were lost.” Its haunting images of those who died very young at the hands of those filled with hatred, like Emmett Till or Tamir Rice, and adults like Sandra Bland or Eric Garner are interspersed with dark glimpses of the South, such as Confederate flags paraded openly and the deadly white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va.. This gives Marck’s lyrics an added impact all their own, and impresses us with the severity of the problem which continues to assail us.
Coming as it does in such a turbulent time—between COVID-19 and the ongoing civil unrest we face now—Marck’s video is more than just a plea for justice, it’s a plaintive call for state actors such as the police and our public institutions to “Stop killing us!” Even as America reels from the outpouring of anger and hurt in her cities, it’s always our culture and arts that drive the message home, as Marck so skillfully does here. Justice speaks truth to power; its narrative goes beyond its driving beat. It’s also the synthesis of Marck’s artistic vision and voice as applied to the real world as a parable of out times. You can find Marck on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, as well as iTunes. The full Seraphim album releases this summer.