When musician MILCK wrote a song in June honoring the numerous Black Americans who lost their lives at the hands of police brutality, she wasn’t sure about releasing it into the world.
Born Connie Lim to Chinese immigrants in the United States, the singer-songwriter known for going viral after performing “Quiet” at the 2017 Women’s March didn’t feel it was the right time to center her voice. But the tune kept “scratching at my subconscious,” MILCK told Global Citizen.
The verses stuck in MILCK’s head came out of her emotional response to an interview with Tamika Palmer, the mother of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman who was murdered by police officers in Louisville, Kentucky while she was sleeping. The lyrics humanize the victims of police brutality.
“More than a story, more than a memory, somebody’s friend, somebody’s daughter, somebody’s beloved,” she sings.
MILCK shared her fears about releasing the song with some activist friends and they encouraged her to collaborate with artists who had been directly impacted by anti-Black racism.
The lyrics that had been haunting MILCK resonated with her collaborator Adio Marchant, a singer also known as Bipolar Sunshine. The project gave the two a chance to have a valuable conversation about the challenges Marchant faces as a Black man, a topic that hadn’t come up when they worked together before, MILCK said. Marchant’s input helped fully bring MILCK’s melody to life.
“Somebody’s Beloved,” released on Thursday, is not just a song — it’s also the beginning of a year-long social action campaign. MILCK has also launched the Somebody's Beloved Fund to directly benefit seven organizations in the South, many of which were founded by Black women and support feminism, LGBTQ+ rights, mental health, and criminal justice reform. On the “Somebody’s Beloved” interactive platform, fans can learn more about how to support the groups, which include Dignity for Incarcerated Women, Black Mamas Matter Alliance, BEAM: Black Emotional And Mental Health Collective, and more.
Despite dedicating herself to social justice in her personal and professional life for as long as she can remember (she said she only started writing love songs three years ago), MILCK is hesitant to call herself “an activist.”
“There are elements of activism in my work, but I do put that with an asterisk because I know some people really specialize in that,” she said.
Labels aside, MILCK made a point to elevate marginalized voices with every decision she made for “Somebody’s Beloved.” The choir that is heard in the song includes singers of Latinx, Indigenous, Black, and white backgrounds and an all-female team produced the record. When it came time to shoot a video, MILCK teamed up with the One Family Memphis Foundation to tell the story through the eyes of a family getting ready to attend a Black Lives Matter protest.
Reckoning with the reality that she simultaneously benefits from privilege and experiences systemic racism, MILCK is working to use her empathy and personal experience to be a bridge between the Asian American community and the uprising against anti-Blackness.
“There's a lot of colonial thinking that is embedded in me in my blood now,” she said. “And I'm trying to acknowledge it because ... it breaks my heart to know that I've been a part of the problem.”
“We've got to help the other causes because we're all very, very connected,” she added. “Underneath it all, there's a lot of similarities, a lot of things to share.”