Mickey Guyton Was Surprised by Country Artists’ Response to ‘Blackout Tuesday’
Following the May 25 death of George Floyd, people across the United States, and even around the world, have called for justice for the 46-year-old Black man (who died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes) and an end to racial inequality. Protests, vigils and online petitions have sprung up in recent days, and on Tuesday (June 2), many musicians and professionals participated in a day-long blackout, meant to spur action to correct injustices within the music industry.
For Mickey Guyton, who is one of mainstream country music's few Black artists, the week has been "heavy," she admits in a new interview with Rolling Stone. However, she is grateful for the public displays of support, especially from those she did not necessarily expect to speak out so directly.
"There have been some artists I was not expecting to be downright saying, 'No, [racism is bad].' Morgan Wallen publicly said it on his page. I respect that," Guyton says, later adding, "I really do appreciate it, every single post, whether it’s strong or not ..."
"There’s so much fear about being canceled by their fans, so I understand the fear," she continues. "But we don’t want those fans anyway. Who wants racist fans? I certainly don’t."
While a number of artists, from Wallen to Kacey Musgraves, loudly denounced racism and have been using their platforms to share messages of solidarity and information on how to get involved in the fight for equality, some chose to simply post a black square on their social media profiles — a trend that spread far beyond the music industry — or to stay silent for the day without making a statement. Guyton confesses that there were some artists from whom she was expecting "a little bit stronger" of a response, though she doesn't name names.
"It’s sad that it’s scary for people to publicly denounce racism. I hurt for them, the fear that they are feeling," she says. "So yes, I’ve been surprised. I’ve been surprised on both sides."
In her interview, Guyton also discusses the common "All Lives Matter" response to the Black Lives Matter movement. "Our point here is not that we’re trying to cause division, we just want people to see us, to step outside of their world and see the rest of the world," she explains. "Because the rest of the world sees white people. We’ve been seeing white people our whole lives."
On Tuesday, Guyton released the studio version of her song "Black Like Me," which asks listeners to check their privilege: "If you think we live in the land of the free / You should try to be black like me," she repeats in each chorus. Guyton says the response to the song "is on a whole different level of anything I’ve ever seen."
"My inbox, my Instagram, I can’t even get to all of the messages. There’s tears of joy, tears of sadness," she shares. "There’s a guilt that I’m feeling. I keep thinking, 'I don’t deserve this.' There’s also guilt when I see the pain other people are feeling as their eyes open and see the oppression that I’ve experienced, having to see that pain in them as I’m talking about it. It’s all so heavy ..."
"There’s an overall feeling of heaviness," Guyton continues, noting that she's been leaning on her black friends in the industry to process everything. "People are not okay. Black people, especially, are not okay. Brown people, especially, are not okay."
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