Meet Teznashe, the Lancs student who wrote the song ‘Black Lives Don’t Just Matter’

‘To other students who are not aware of the inequalities, I’d simply advise them to educate themselves’

Students of Lancaster University are both fond and critical of its student YouTubers. We’ve seen the likes of freshers re-writing Ariana Grande‘s ‘7 Rings’ to the crowning of Rachel Lord as Lancaster’s Best YouTuber for 2020, and nobody really knows how to feel about it all.

Over the weekend a music video was uploaded to YouTube by Lancaster rapper and Medical student Tinashe Shonhiwa. The song is titled “Black Lives Don’t Just Matter” and includes some neatly tied lyrics by Tinashe in response to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Furness student, Tinashe, filmed the video around different locations in Manchester but made reference to his experience at Lancaster University as a black student. The Tab Lancaster spoke to Tinashe about his video and for insight into his life as a do-it-all YouTuber at Lancaster University.

“There was too much to say to keep quiet”

Inspired by the likes of Dave, Drake and YNW Melly, Tinashe casually describes his music as Hip Hop / Rap expressing his hopes for exploring with other styles in future songs.

The idea for the song, “Black Lives Don’t Just Matter” came after Tinashe saw the video by Nick Cannon on Black Lives Matter: “I just thought there was too much to say to keep quiet.”

At the beginning of his music video, the message “Silence is racism” appears on the screen in between clips of police brutality towards black people and Black Lives Matter protests. It is a point being reiterated by many students across campus in consideration of the university’s response to Black Lives Matter.

For Tinashe, it’s simple: “I feel like the university could’ve used its voice better to speak out about BLM and I think it’s important they provide resources for people to educate themselves on racial inequalities so people are more aware of how they use their words.”

Within his tight and skilful lyrics, Tinashe calls out Lancaster University for their silence, penning in the second verse: “How’s my university gonna sit there and look at me quietly / Whilst the entire world is screaming no justice no peace”

“I feel like I had to mention Lancaster” he stresses, “I’ve only been there for one year, but I have already heard five different white girls confidently use the n-word.”

“My African surname changes employability”

Following his disappointment in the uni, Tinashe gives light to the impact his “African last name” has on his employability and how much this influenced his decision to study medicine at Lancaster.

“My African surname changes employability. It’s a known fact that people with African sounding surnames are less likely to be employed by white employers. There’s actually a really interesting article on this by the BBC called ‘Why your name matters in the search for a job.’

“This is a great example of unconscious bias, it might not be deliberate but it is still reality. This is why I’m doing medicine, it’s one of those few career paths where you’re pretty much guaranteed to get a job no matter what your surname or ethnicity is.”

Tinashe noted that he didn’t want to say something “too proactive” about the university. Although he wanted to speak out, he felt it was also important to consider his career: “I am just a first year after all, and I’ve still got a long way to go.”

“Black students have very different obstacles”

On plans for his music, Tinashe admits his plan was to make three songs in one month, before taking a music break for a couple of weeks to focus on other content. “I have one last song coming out soon on my YouTube channel, Teznashe Does Everything. After that, I’m going to focus on other content like cooking videos, art videos and definitely a lot of dance!”

Following public comments from Lancaster students denying racism on campus, Tinashe lent some advice for those who are unsure on their placement in the Black Lives Matter movement. “To other students who are not aware of the inequalities, I’d simply advise them to educate themselves because we live in two completely different worlds and black students have very different obstacles [to their white peers].

“Awareness is the first step to levelling the playing field because right now we still have many other obstacles to overcome. Hopefully things will be better in the future when people are more educated and more racially aware.

“The aim of the channel is to show that you can do whatever you put your mind to, so I’m literally going to attempt to do everything! That’s why I’ve chosen Teznashe Does Everything as my YouTube channel name.”

Related stories recommended by this writer:

We spoke to Lancaster’s BME Student Officer Elect abou the uni’s response to BLM

Black Lives Matter resources you can access easily at Lancs Uni

‘You have to be anti-racist’: Lancaster BLM protesters on why they’re protesting