Kehlani Discusses the Emotional Impact of Black Lives Matter and Her Coping Mechanisms

Atlantic Records

The sensational singer’s candor is music to our ears.

As a queer black queen, paving her way in a predominantly white industry, Kehlani is no stranger to adversity. The brilliant boss lady flirts with discomfort and continues to act as an unapologetic leader, disruptor, and game-changer. She candidly discusses difficult topics and serves as a bold Black Lives Matter advocate (in both her words and deeds). Shortly after the “Blackout Tuesday,” fad went viral, Kehlani questioned the purpose and productivity of the Instagram trend. She suggested that it may be more self-serving, an inconspicuous form of virtue signaling, than a pragmatic approach to confronting ingrained racism. Soon after, a flood of posts surfaced informing well-intentioned, aspiring Black Lives Matter allies that these black squares were indeed burying Black Lives Matter content.

Although the singer has been reluctant to attend demonstrations, she is fearful of contracting the virus and compromising the health of her newborn, she has still emerged as an authentic leader. She has proven her commitment to the cause by supporting friends detained by police during peaceful protests and providing them with essential self-care products. She revealed to Teen Vogue, “I just dropped off some bath salt and CBD to a bunch of the homies the other day who were out protesting and got arrested, and their bodies were all sore.”

In a recent interview with Bustle, Kehlani opened up about how she’s grappling with systemic racism. She shared how she is supporting both the movement and her emotional wellbeing simultaneously. The singer revealed some fruitful coping mechanisms she employs to preserve her mental health, “When I do feel it [emotional strain], which I do, acknowledging that I have a way to assist others is the biggest balance for me,” she told writer Sylvia Obell. “There’s literally nothing that feels better than being of some type of service…” 

The singer noted that the murder of 19-year-old activist Oluwatoyin “Toyin” Salau particularly moved her. As a fiery feminist and vocal member of the LGBTQ+ community, Kehlani is dedicated to making gender violence a fundamental focus of the Black Lives Matter narrative. The movement has largely centered on cisgender heterosexual black men, despite black women, especially black queer women, being hyper-marginalized. Kehlani demands “some type of real step of accountability from inside the community,” or a united effort to protect black women. 

In hindsight, the artist’s recent album, It Was Good Until It Wasn’t (released on May 8, 2020), can be perceived as an ominous omen of imminent horrors. In light of the augmenting fear surrounding the global pandemic and rising police brutality cases against Black civilians, Kehlani’s powerful album appears to faithfully foreshadow the panic and terror entangled in the year 2020. The album art even depicts the singer owl-eyed, peering anxiously over her backyard fence to the outside world, and, on the backside, gaping at a backdrop of devastation and destruction. We commend the singer’s candor and look forward to seeing what she will accomplish moving forward.