We all witnessed worlds divide when black men like Abdirahman Abdi, Alton Sterling, and Philando Castile were killed. We all saw names become hashtags as campaigns for justice took over Twitter. And we all watched as our social media feeds filled with heated debate.
In the midst of this conflict, many people find it difficult to speak out, in fear of speaking wrong. As a result, this fear has silenced so many from participating in the Black Lives Matter movement.
Three Toronto-based creators, Iva Golubovic, Karena Evans, and Zahra Bentham recognized this fear in themselves and in others, so they worked with their community to create a powerful film expressing their support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
The piece features community members of black heritage with notable Toronto artists including Director X, Boi1da, Daniel Caesar, Jordan Evans, Rich Kidd and John River.
VICE spoke with Golubovic and Evans about their video and the Black Lives Matter movement north of the border.
VICE: What's the meaning of this video?
Karena Evans: Essentially, what we wanted to create was an art piece that's a positive message in the midst all the negativity that's going on in the world. We shot a large number of cameos of people in the community who represent the importance of the message that all black lives matter. This piece is a tribute to all black lives. And it's a reminder that black lives are human lives.
How did it come about?
Evans: One of the things we covered when we sat down [to create this] was that we all have a general fear of saying the wrong thing or being politically incorrect or not knowing the entire story or even the solution. But the truth is we all need to speak out. So this art piece was the only way we knew how to express ourselves as creatives, and that was through art. And we wanted real people who were part of the community and who anybody can identify with so that they carry the message of the video.
Was it difficult to get this many people together, especially the more notable ones?
Iva Golubovic: No. I think that's the most amazing thing about this is that the community came together. When we first talked about this, it was a Sunday, and then the following week we were able to get everyone in a room and everybody was just so willing to support the message.
Evans: We had sort of a list of people that we wanted to reach out to, expecting maybe half of those people to feel the same as we did, and maybe half of those people wouldn't be available. But we had such a positive response from everybody just by reaching out. All we had to do was reach out personally, whether it was through Facebook, Instagram, or text message. That's literally all we did, and they did the rest of the work for us.
Why are you releasing this video now?
Evans: At the end of the video, the first two names that come up are Philando Castile and Alton Sterling. It was those two incidents and also just a build up and build up of so much going on every single day. We were like, what can we do? What can we say? How can we help?
Golubovic: And it's not coinciding with any specific event. It's more so that we've reached a point where we have to say something and we have to say it now.
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