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On Dance Music's Response to the #FergusonDecision

Over a tense night in America, a few artists were voices of reason in a community blithely unaware of the world around it.
November 25, 2014, 3:43pm
Photo: David Broome, UPI

Following the grand jury decision not to indict Darren Wilson over the murder of Michael Brown, many prominent figures in the entertainment industry took to Twitter to voice anger, express frustration, and urge calm. Given dance music's roots in minority culture and its origins as a movement of opposition to the mainstream, it wouldn't be out of place for DJs and producers in the US to be especially galvanized by the #FergusonDecision. In reality, this was far from the case.


Some well-known artists, like Moby, Nile Rodgers, and Flosstradamus, spoke out about the verdict while others such as Tommie Sunshine and Kid Sister retweeted messages of support.

darren wilson chased michael brown and murdered him. how did the grand jury get around this basic fact? #Ferguson #FergusonDecision

— moby Ⓥ (@thelittleidiot)

November 25, 2014



November 25, 2014

Surprisingly however, many in the industry didn't let the issue get in the way of their tirade of self-promotion. Some public relations professionals might argue that artists need to avoid social issues so as to not alienate those who might disagree with you. Still, it might have been an opportune moment to forgo the typical tracks of promotion and instead allow a social feed to at least sit in silence if nothing else. It's hard to reconcile when artists explain in interviews how deeply they're influenced by hip-hop and R&B and then spent last night promoting their Snapchat on Twitter. How can you profess your love for Frankie Knuckles and then Tweet jokes all through the night rather than treat the Ferguson situation at least some tacit acknowledgement? A-Trak noticed and shared in his frustration with this behavior.

I don't understand how dudes are posting memes and promo tonight. Life has to carry on at some point but cmon, take a couple hours for this.


— Euro Trak (@atrak)

November 25, 2014

In sharp contrast, support and contemplative thoughts flooded in from musicians, actors, and directors elsewhere in the entertainment industry.

I'm heartbroken over the news of no indictment in Ferguson. Let's all pray for peace.

— Pharrell Williams (@Pharrell)

November 25, 2014

All my love is with the family of Michael Brown. I applaud their strength and courage, mourn their loss, pray they see justice and change.

— Lena Dunham (@lenadunham)

November 25, 2014

Kudos to all the peaceful Protesters tonight across the nation! #timesqaure

— Michael Ealy (@MichaelEaly)

November 25, 2014

For me the hardest part about becoming an adult is realizing that the world is not a fair place. It has been the hardest lesson.

— Jessica R. Williams (@msjwilly)

November 25, 2014

Justice is a myth!! Goodnight!!

— Seth Rogen (@Sethrogen)

November 25, 2014

Others in the music industry, like Seattle's Macklemore, took more direct approaches to showing solidarity.

In case you missed it. #Seattle artist Macklemore joined the protest tonight following the decision in #Ferguson

— Alex Rozier (@AlexRozier)

November 25, 2014

Even parody accounts supported the cause.

Pictures of Darren Wilson's injuries after the shooting are truly chilling. I've gotten similar bruises from turning over my pillow too fast

— Chris Rock (@ozchrisrock)

November 25, 2014


Perhaps DJs think that their voices don't matter—that they don't want to bother their fans. It's worth reminding some that their support on issues that impact their fans (and the world) is worth more than a few SoundCloud plays. At its very core, dance music is about a cause greater than one's self. If you view the dance music community as a tight-knit family, it matters how we support equality and fairness for all. Silence is also your right, but some situations deserve respect and an adjustment to your marketing schedule.

We leave you with this:

a police officer who murdered an innocent isn't in jail but people who illegally download songs are

— . (@alexandsieraa)

November 25, 2014

Ziad Ramley is on Twitter: @ZiadRamley