R&B singer Usher held a discussion Tuesday on social injustice and Black artist activism at Georgia State University. During the talk, sponsored by music streaming service Tidal, Usher revealed his thoughts on police brutality, including what he thinks of Beyonce’s controversial “Formation” video.
According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Usher spoke for an hour and said he’d like to use his art to raise awareness about the injustices Black people face. He also discussed his 2015 video “Chains.” The clip was a collaboration with Tidal that forced viewers to watch photos of police brutality victims. Murdered Black men like Tamir Rice and Michael Brown were featured. If the viewer looked away, the video paused with a caption reading, “Don’t look away.”
“You can’t look away,” Usher told the crowd about the video. “In order to fix [the issues] we have to face [them]. “Chains” to me was that opportunity to use my platform for something other than wealth. It was really courageous for Tidal and myself to come together for something that was taboo.”
AllHipHop.com reports the Grammy-winner told the crowd the “Chains” video was “just a drop in the bucket. It’s a major shift in the direction for my career, and I’m so thankful and happy that I had Tidal to support me in making sure I put this message out there.”
On the subject of police brutality, Usher commended Beyonce’s “Formation” video, which has been criticized for being anti-police. Disapproval stemmed from the image of Beyonce lying on top of a cop car in sinking water. The video was set in post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans.
“To be perfectly honest, I think that ridicule comes with reality,” Usher said about the video. “If you say something that makes someone uncomfortable, they may try to find a way to discredit the purpose behind it. That wasn’t the point, and let’s not distort the issues and the reality of what has happened in our country.”