Looking away is not an option.
Racial profiling, injustice, and police brutality, even as we’re entering 2016, are still prevalent in many parts of the world, and this is hard to digest especially considering the type of forward thinking that we all claim to subscribe to.
Recently, hip hop icon Usher used social media to bring this issue up, using the medium which suits him best: music. Usher’s song, “Chains” is a stunner of a track,
featuring rapper Nas and singer/songwriter Bibi Bourelly. Using TIDAL, the streaming platform, Usher and co. have incorporated sight into the experience of “Chains”, a brilliant (and devastating) method of engaging audiences, sure to leave an impression on the viewer. “While racial injustice keeps killing, society keeps looking away”, reads the opening text of the video. You need to allow the page to use your front-facing webcam for the full experience, upon which facial recognition technology tracks your eye movements throughout the song. The video immediately pauses if you so much as glance away from the screen, which aims to keep your attention focused on the roll of faces on display: victims of racial profiling and violence from the authorities as well as armed civilians.
In a statement attached to the release, Usher said “I chose to introduce the song through the ‘Don’t Look Away’ experience because it is important not only to feel the issue but to face it. The pain and suffering that these victims and their families have endured is something we must never forget. When we look away from this problem it gets worse. To fix it, we have to face it.
‘Chains’ isn’t merely a politically motivated song. It pleads for awareness, attention and involvement from everyone- not just the families of the victims, not just people of colour.
“Facing the facts is the first step towards change”, the concluding text says. And on that note, Usher – along with Nas and Bibi Bourelly – leave us with the fact that looking away is not an option.