Alicia Keys, Mary J. Blige and more stars speak out against police brutality

Keke Palmer, Khalid and T.I. also appear in support of the #BreatheWithMe campaign.
Published January 19, 2021 9:52 a.m. EST
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Alicia Keys, Mary J. Blige, Keke Palmer, Khalid, T.I. and more celebrities are using their voices in a powerful new video calling for an end to systemic racism and violence against Black people. Launched as part of the #BreatheWithMe Revolution, the video was made in support of the U.S. Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Commission, which among many things is committed to ending police violence against Black people.

The premise of the video is simple and powerful. Each celebrity recites a way in which a Black person in American can and has been killed, including sleeping in their own bed (Breonna Taylor), standing at their window (Atatiana Jefferson), walking down the street (Elijah McClain) and jogging (Ahmaud Arbery).

Released on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and in conjunction NowThis News, the new video includes some staggering statistics, including the fact that “more than 1000 people were killed by current or former police officers in 2020” and noting that “the lives lost to police violence are disproportionately Black and brown people.”

The #BreatheWithMe campaign is asking the Biden-Harris administration to launch the United States Commission on Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation within the first 100 days of the new administration taking office. According to the video, the campaign hopes that the commission will be a step towards the necessary restorative and reparative action needed to achieve racial justice in the United States.

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The new video also includes a reference to Rep. Barbara Lee, who in June 2020 proposed the Truth, Healing and Transformation legislation. In December 2020, NowThis News released a video that featured celebrities and activists, including Billie Eilish, Van Jones, Sasha Lane and Dr. Marc Lamont Hill. Those involved in the video, including Rep. Lee, read from Lee’s proposed legislation, and also called on the Biden and Harris administration to form a commission within their first 100 days in office. 

Back in 2016, Keys produced a similar video to this week’s new release, which also starred an impressive list of celebrities, including Beyoncé, Chris Rock, Taraji P. Henson, Rihanna and Pharrell Williams. Like Monday’s clip, the four-year-old video also highlighted the disproportionately high instances of violence against Black people in police custody, as well as cases of civilians killing Black people and serving little to no jail time. Titled 23 Ways You Could Be Killed If You Are Black In America, the video highlighted the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Freddie Gray, Alton Sterling, Sandra Bland, and the nine people who were murdered while attending bible study inside a Charleston church in 2015.

When the video was released in 2016, the celebrities and activists involved were asking Congress to enact “radical transformations” to healthcare, education and criminal justice reform and pledge $150 billion to make these necessary changes over the next decade. 

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