Pat Blythe – George Floyd and Black Out Tuesday…..and music

“The further society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those that speak it”George Orwell

The world is a fucking mess!! It’s a like a huge ball of dirt that can no longer be swept under the carpet. We’ve been doing that far too long and the carpet just isn’t big enough to hide the dirt anymore. Online news, social media, newspapers, all littered with the horrific happenings from around the world but with a particular focus on the U.S. A runaway virus, isolation, unemployment, too many deaths, hate crimes, looting, brutality, murder…..the list is endless. Any kind of optimism is taking a beating and beginning to fade as I sit typing this. I fear for what could possibly happen and how it will all turn out. It’s like we’ve all lost our collective minds!

George Floyd

Physically I am far removed from the mayhem. They are distant rumblings that haven’t directly affected my tiny world inside my home. Emotionally, in my guts, it rips me apart. For my family, my children, grandchildren, my friends…..the future.  I can’t watch any of it, but especially the video of a man dying in real time. I just want to weep, to reach inside the TV and pull him out, to frantically scream “he can’t breathe” at people who can’t hear me. The helplessness is overwhelming and the nightmares don’t help. The adrenaline just seethes through me. George Floyd has become a worldwide symbol for cruelty and brutality and for all that’s gone wrong everywhere. He is the catalyst….emotions released in a firestorm that seems unstoppable.

Like a raging lion on the rampage, the descent into anarchy and chaos across the United States is deepening and spreading. There is no more talk, only threats and screaming; no more reasoning, only blind conviction; no more peaceful marches, walks or protests, there is only looting, shooting and tear gas; no more trust, there is only a deep and abiding distrust; no more faith, there is only uncertainty and fear; no more conciliation, there is only incitement. There is a burning rage that runs deep and long, over 200 years. Hope….it seems to be fading.

So, what exactly is Blackout Tuesday?

Triggered by the heartless death of Floyd, “Blackout Tuesday is day of action across the music industry, which sprang from an initiative created by Atlantic Records’ senior director of marketing Jamila Thomas and former senior director of marketing Brianna Agyemang, called #TheShowMustBePaused, ‘in observance of the long-standing racism and inequality that exists from the boardroom to the boulevard’ in the industry.” — Mashable


The day of Tuesday was chosen. It was separated by one day from the weekend so it could not be perceived as a long weekend and it provided an additional 24 hours of time for the world to get out. The music business is a multibillion dollar industry that simply wouldn’t be where, and what it is, without the contribution of Afro Americans going as far back as the slave trade. Much of the music we enjoy today literally came across the ocean with the peoples from West Africa. The profits have been and are enormous and not just in dollar value. Blues, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll, fusion, pop…..all started with African beats, African rhythms, African songs, African chants, African memories of home. It is the backbone of the music industry we know it today.

Artists, musicians, record companies and everyone in support of Black Out Tuesday are blacking squares for profiles, posts and cover photos. I myself joined the hundreds of thousands voices around the world in posting a black space in support of Blackout Tuesday. It’s recognition of a systemic problem with very deep roots that exists in all walks of life, not just the music business.

There are also many comments decrying the seemingly empty gesture. I don’t believe there is a right or wrong way to approach this. Some will post as a sincere gesture, some will post because others do, some will post because they want to do “something”, some will post because they are passionate in their solidarity and many won’t post at all. It is reminiscent of the pussy hat and the marches that took place around the world that year. Much of what incited that has faded into the background. Will this? A country led by a head of state whose only path seems to be chaos and bedlam, who by his rhetoric and whim based decision-making places a country he professes to love in total turmoil, creating a state of disorder and instability. He gives credence to those who wish to destroy whether it’s by guns or greed.

This is what anger looks like on the ground

I have no idea what to say or do. There is little discourse. People are attacking those who are trying to show they care. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t. I want to wrap everyone up in a giant hug, heal the pain and kiss away hurt. Yes I know it’s unrealistic, simplistic, idealistic and totally impossible. I have wonderful friends from all walks of life. They come from many races, religions, beliefs, countries and backgrounds. They are funny, insightful, loving, kind, thoughtful, musical, unique, talented, beautiful and I love them simply for being the people they are. Their skin colours range from white to black and everything in between…..and I simply don’t care. I was raised to look at the cake, not the icing. What’s on the outside in no way reflects what’s on the inside.

What positivity looks like. The women of NASA who inspired the movie Hidden Figures

I don’t live their lives. I cannot walk in their shoes nor they in mine. I will not apologize for the person I am, my beliefs, my background or the colour of my skin, nor should they. I am unable to erase or even atone for the all the wrongs of the past. I can, however, make choices on how I live my life, to learn and listen, to move forward treating those in my life as I would expect to be treated.

Although curious about religions, I’m not a religious person but sometimes the Bible (which I consider more of a history book) does have some wonderful and meaningful quotes and parables including the 10 commandments. One of my favourites, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” There is no misconstruing… taking out of context. It’s simple and straightforward. Words to live by.

A friend posted this today. What have we got to lose that we haven’t already lost? Let’s change the world.

Let’s not go waving the Canadian flag in the face of the U.S. too quickly. We are not innocents here in the land of the Maple Leaf. There is no room for smugness. Tuck away that self righteous indignation, that wagging finger and tut tut tut. We have fared no better in the abysmal treatment of the indigenous people of this country. Racism and prejudice towards people of colour and race is alive and well here in the U.S.’s hat.

I leave you with this……

I have to agree with Calvin!

There is no longer a line in the sand. It hasn’t been erased, it’s been obliterated. We are lost in a sea of hate and violence.

What’s Going On – Marvin Gaye

Bridge Over Troubled Waters – Simon and Garfunkel

Get Together – The Youngbloods

Strange Fruit – Billie Holiday

Everyday People – Sly & The Family Stone

Ball Of Confusion – The Temptations

We Gotta Pray – Alicia Keys

This is a protest song from the 1930s written and performed by the great blues musician Leadbelly. The Jim Crow Laws prevented African Americans and other minorities from having the same rights as whites.

Jim Crow Blues – Leadbelly

For What It’s Worth – Buffalo Springfield

Stay safe. Stay well. Stay strong.



Pat’s column appears every Wednesday.

Contact us at:

dbawis-button7“Music and photography….my heart, my passions.” After an extended absence —  33 years as a consultant and design specialist in the telecommunications industry — Pat has turned her focus back to the music scene. Immersing herself in the local club circuit, attending the many diverse music festivals, listening to some great music, photographing and writing once again, she is eager to spread the word about this great Music City of ours…..Toronto. Together for 34 years, Pat little-red-headed-dancing-girlalso worked alongside her late husband Christopher Blythe, The PictureTaker©, who, beginning in the early 70s, photographed much of the local talent (think Goddo, Frank Soda and the Imps, BB Gabor, the first Police Picnic, Buzzsaw, Hellfield, Shooter, The Segarini Band….) as well as national and international acts. Pat is currently making her way through 40 years of Chris’s archives, 20 of which are a photographic history of the local GTA music scene beginning in 1974. It continues to be a work in progress. Oh…..and she LOVES to dance! 

2 Responses to “Pat Blythe – George Floyd and Black Out Tuesday…..and music”

  1. Brother Says:

    What happen to our 50’s 60’s and 70’s and the days of Bill Graham and peace and love. (Unbelievable)

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