NEW YORK — Alicia Keys and a host of other stars, including Beyonce, Bono, Rihanna, Taraji P. Henson and Chris Rock, appear in a powerful video released Wednesday that describes “23 ways you could be killed if you are black in America.”
The video made the social media rounds after its release on Mic.com, spawning its own hashtag, 23Ways, and thousands of shares and comments. In black and white, it juxtaposes 23 artists with photos of 23 black victims of violence, with each star noting the acts that led to their deaths, mainly after interactions with police.
In an interview, Keys said she was inspired by a Mic.com story earlier this month written by Jamilah King under the headline: “23 Everyday Actions Punishable by Death if You’re Black in America.”
It was written after Alton Sterling was killed by police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, after an altercation caught on video by a bystander. The story’s approach, listing everyday things like laughing, sitting in your car, attending a birthday party, was Keys’ call to action.
Keys said it was easy to round up enough of her famous artist friends to hit the 23 mark.
Keys begins the video with, “Failing to signal a lane change,” followed by a photo of Sandra Bland, who died in jail after being stopped by police during a traffic stop (authorities ruled it a suicide).
Beyonce is next up with, “Riding in your girlfriend’s car with a child in the back,” and an image appears of Philando Castile, who was shot by police last week in Minnesota; his girlfriend live streamed the aftermath.
Keys and her We Are Here organization call at the end of the video for signatures on a petition demanding President Barack Obama and Congress to work for “radical transformation to heal the long history of systemic racism so that all Americans have the equal right to live and to pursue happiness.”