Tidal, the music streaming service owned by Jay Z and a bunch of his friends, announced that they will be donating $1.5 million dollars to the Black Lives Matter organization as well as other civil rights groups.
The funds were raised during the October 2015 Tidal X concert at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn. Performers included Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj, Usher and Lil Wayne.
The news was announced to Mic this afternoon and was reportedly planned to coincide with what would have been Trayvon Martin’s 21st birthday. Martin was shot to death on February 26, 2012 by George Zimmerman. Zimmerman was later acquitted of murder by a Florida jury.
The New World Foundation will distribute Tidal’s grants to Black Lives Matter and a list of other organizations including New York: Million Hoodies, Hands Up United, NY Justice League, the Oscar Grant Foundation and the Trayvon Martin Foundation.
This is not the first time that Jay Z has supported the Black Lives Matter movement. He and Beyoncé reportedly gave anonymous donations in the tens of thousands of dollars to bail out protesters in Ferguson and Baltimore. While generally low-key with their activism, Jay Z and Beyoncé have quietly supported the movement, showing at events and meeting the families of victims of police brutality.
For all the jokes about Tidal, this is very likely the best thing that will ever come out of the venture. Celebrities weighing in on heated social justices issues is often tricky. Many tends to carefully walk the line so as not to alienate fans and ruin business deals. Others simply are not qualified to speak clearly and eloquently on the issues at hand.
Personally, I prefer gestures like this and similar moves made by John Legend and Chrissy Teigen. For almost all celebrities—minus a select few like Jesse Williams—I’d rather they uplift the voices of others and support the work of dedicated organizations using the wealth and large platforms that their successful careers have allowed them.
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