Teyana Taylor has released a divisive music video for her song "Still," from her June release The Album. The video includes footage from a variety of protests related to racial injustice, including the 1992 Rodney King riots, and features Taylor dressing up like Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, Trayvon Martin and Emmett Till's mother, Mamie.
While "Still" is soulful and moving, no one would have called it a protest song when it was originally released. There's nothing particularly revolutionary about lyrics like, "I can't fight back, I don't want to, babe / 'Cause I'm always a heartbreak too late / Chillin' with some s*** from the past / Tryna get what I never had" and "I keep cryin' for love / But it won't wipe, won't wipe, my tears / Ain't it crazy how I'm still so emotional, still? / Got no control, still forever yours." Yet Taylor's self-directed music video invokes the radicalism of Malcolm X and shows footage of George Floyd being killed.
Taylor received criticism on social media from those who questioned the effectiveness of the visuals. Even if the video was intended as a homage or memorial, it runs the risk of capitalizing on tragic stories that Black America is still grappling with, in which victims of police brutality become martyrs without receiving justice.
Introduced as a "Spike Tey" joint — an on-the-nose nod to divisive director Spike Lee — "Still"'s visuals are, at best, unsettling and at worst, reductive and exploitative.
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