Born out of the Coronavirus Pandemic and amplified by the growing Black Lives Matter Movement, The Claremont Solidarity Fund Music Festival that took place on Sunday, May 31st featured 17 artists and took Instagram by storm.

Acting as a musical fundraising platform for mutual aid funds at The Claremont College Consortium — which includes Scripps, Pitzer, Claremont McKenna, Pomona, and Harvey Mudd — the event raised over $2,000 to support students who have been devastatingly impacted by the COVID Crisis.  

“Institutional response has been inadequate, so students themselves are providing a stopgap measure for one another during the lockdown,” said Scripps rising senior Vani Dewan, “The goal of this festival [was] to spread the message as widely and effectively as we can…and emphasize the importance of communities coming together during a period of physical separation.”

Dewan and Pomona classmate, Shirley Zhong (Scripps 2021), created the Claremont Solidarity Fund Music Festival to stimulate conversation and fundraising in the wake of campus closures.

Beyond COVID, however, the festival quickly became a larger platform to stand in solidarity and take action in response to the murder of George Floyd, and the ressurange of the Black Lives Matter Movement. 

“This [Claremont Solidarity Fund Music Festival] also then became an opportunity to talk about a lot of the underlying causes that have led to the inequities for these students; like racism and how that functions in our society at large,” said Ponoma rising senior and festival performer Julia Rogers. 

Of total lives lost due to COVID-19 in the United States, the burden disproportionately falls on Black Americans. The death rate for Black Americans is 92.3 deaths per a population of 100,000 — as compared to only 45.2 for White Americans. Black communities are susceptible to COVID-19 for a host of factors, many of which are highly systemic. Particularly, the ease with which the virus spreads in densely populated communities. Many inner-cities and city centers in the U.S are home to Black Americans. Despite this density, however, these communities also disproportionately lack access to medical and healthy food options — creating dire medical and food insecurities. Furthermore, with inadequate access to robust medical and food options, Black Americans suffer from higher rates of chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, inherently putting them at higher risk for disease. 

“Though most lives have been affected, racist and classist infrastructures make the effects of the pandemic vastly disproportionate,” Dewan said, “…the state of our world [and] economy has left many students, especially BIPOC [Black, Indigineous, People of Color] and low income students, homeless, jobless, and struggling.” 

Motivated to provide financial resources to fellow Claremont students, the Claremont Solidarity Fund crowdsources funding for NobodyFailsAtScripps, NobodyFailsAtCMC, and HMC. Students from each of the five colleges performed for the festival on Instagram Live, acting as a platform for advocacy and allyship. 

“This is a way that I can contribute. If people watch, and it resonates, then that matters to me,” said Rogers, whose Instagram Live has well over 500 views since Sunday.  

Beyond just the Claremont Solidarity Fund Music Festival, Rogers and Dewan hope that the ressurange of the Black Lives Matter Movement in conjunction with COVID-19 will help stimulate a deep need for change in the US. 

‘While we are gathering support on COVID relief for our community, violence and injustice beyond the pandemic are happening currently that need our help,” Dewan said.

“Everyone must do their part. White allies show up. Non-Black POC show up. Support the protests and donate to freedom funds across the country to help protesters. Call your local governments to demand policy changes and police defunding. Read and speak on how your own community is anti-Black. Take these lessons with you” 

As for allyship, Rogers has learned a lot in just the past two weeks, “ [It’s about] putting myself in a little bit of fiscal discomfort. Putting my money where my mouth is and spending the money I would usually spend on myself on someone else, or towards a cause that is going to impact lives.”

While allyship may look different for each person individually, the overarching idea is the same: to stand against the social, economic, and political systems that have systematically and disproportionately benefited White Americans. More than just solidarity, however, allyship means learning, advocating, and making oneself uncomfortable. 

 “If you are living in a comfortable situation at this moment, the best thing you can do is make yourself a little cognitively uncomfortable, and open your mind to things that maybe aren’t super convenient”

-Julia Rogers, Pomona ’21

Please consider donating to the Claremont Solidarity Fund Music Festival

Venmo: @Claremont-Solidarity-Fund

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