Singer Janelle Monáe was in effect silenced during an appearance on NBC’s Today show on last Friday morning, shortly after saying in a speech in support of the Black Lives Matter movement: “We will not be silenced.”
Hell You Talmbout is a protest song in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, which emerged last year after a number of deaths of unarmed African American men and women either at the hands of police officers or while in police custody.
The song features chants of the names of many of those who have died in such fashion, including Eric Garner, Walter Scott, John Crawford, Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland and Michael Brown, with the repeated request to “Say his name” or “Say her name”.
The song also mentions Trayvon Martin, who was shot dead by George Zimmerman in 2012, and Emmett Till, a 14-year-old whose brutal murder by white racists in Mississippi in 1955 inspired a protest song by Bob Dylan.
“Yes, Lord,” she said. “God bless America. God bless all who’ve lost lives to police brutality. We want white America to know that we stand tall today. We want black America to know that we stand tall today. We will not be silenced.”
A Today show anchor then began speaking over her, saying: “We’ll have much more from Janelle Monáe … coming up.”
Text accompanying the videos on the show website, however, read: “Not everyone ‘gets’ Monáe yet, which is understandable: She’s no cookie-cutter artist and as she admits, she’s constantly changing. ‘I love evolving,’ she told Today between performances. ‘I’m not just one thing and I will never be one thing to any one person. It’s all about being complete and whole. Partying and pondering.’
“We like that!”