How The Shooting Of Tamir Rice Helped Inspire Lizzo's Self-Love Anthems

"They don’t care about somebody’s actual life."

Lizzo Explains How The Killing Of Tamir Rice Inspired Her Music
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Since her breakout in 2018, Lizzo has been a beacon of inclusivity, empowerment, and much-needed light in the midst of political turmoil and fights for racial justice (and, you know, a global pandemic). But her positive music has often arisen out of pain, frustration, and injustice, especially against Black people. In fact, while speaking about the Black Lives Matter movement in a new interview with Vogue, Lizzo revealed that one of her songs celebrating Blackness was partly inspired by the killing of Tamir Rice.

In the interview, published on Thursday, Sept. 23, Lizzo recalled how she had hoped for meaningful change when the Black Lives Matter movement was founded in 2013, after George Zimmerman was acquitted of killing Trayvon Martin. However, that hope was dashed with the murder of 12-year-old Tamir Rice by officer Timothy Loehmann in 2015. The singer said she remembered thinking "they don't actually care" at the time. "And 'they' — I don’t know who ‘they’ are," she explained. "But I know that they don’t care, because if sh*t like this is still happening, there has to be a ‘they.’ They don’t care about somebody’s actual life."

Her sense of hopelessness after Rice's killing, along with the 2015 shooting of Jamar Clark by officers Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze in her adopted hometown of Minneapolis, ended up partly inspiring Lizzo to write one of her earlier singles about radical self love, "My Skin," which encourages Black people to embrace their bodies. "I love you, don't forget it, you beautiful Black masterpiece," she sings on the track. Later, she declares, “I’m done with the struggle. I just wanna enjoy my life now and maybe appreciate my skin.”

Celebration of Black bodies has gone on to become a prominent theme in Lizzo's catalog, especially on tracks like "'Scuse Me" and "Water Me," which promote self-love and true body positivity. (Describing the "Water Me" music video to FADER, Lizzo said plainly: "We're celebrating black beauty and the meaningful freedom of water.") And she's made efforts not to conform to white, Euro-centric beauty standards. "I wear Black hair," she said in an interview with Allure in 2019. "It's important as a Black woman to do that because Black women representing Black things makes a bigger mark. We're going to represent for us, by us."