On July 4, Usher premiered the video for his emotional song “I Cry,” addressing the ongoing movement for racial equality during the ESSENCE Festival of Culture.
In his Instagram post, which he directed his followers to the ESSENCE Fest for the premiere, the “Confessions” singer explained the mission behind his video for the socially conscious song.
“This video is in honor of the courage and bravery of the activists and organizations who are demanding a change to broken systems rooted in hundreds of years of racism,” he wrote.
As the father of two Black boys, Cinco, 12, and Naviyd, 11, who handled graphics under the moniker “Dem Raymond Boyz” for their dad’s self-directed video, Usher, like anybody else raising Black children in this country, fears for his children’s safety. And no amount of celebrity shields him from that.
Throughout “I Cry,” the multiple Grammy award winner puts a spotlight on his face, at times releasing tears while blending in images of Black people from the 20th century taken by iconic Black photographer—and ESSENCE’s editorial director in 1970—Gordon Parks, as well as recent imagery from Black Lives Matter protesters. “I cry / For the sons without fathers / And the pain that the mothers / Hold deep inside / And I’ll fight / For the future we’re making,” he sings.
Usher’s humanitarian efforts are not a new endeavor. Since 1999, his foundation, Usher’s New Look, has focused on “improving the lives of disadvantaged children and adolescents.” In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, he was active in helping young people and their families. And this latest effort is an extension of his humanitarian efforts.
Proceeds from “I Cry” will be donated to the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), one of the nation’s largest nonprofits investing in underserved communities and communities of color across the country.
Near the video’s close, the words “We Are the Change” appear across his face. And that’s exactly what Usher is stepping up to do right now while challenging others to follow suit.