Chris Young Says George Floyd’s Death Is ‘Something We Have to Talk About'

Chris Young was one of several country stars who spoke out about the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers in May, explaining that he couldn't "stay silent" on the topic. Floyd, a black man who was unarmed at the time, died in police custody after he was pinned to the ground by a white officer who placed his knee on Floyd's neck for almost 9 minutes. In a new interview with PEOPLE, Young continued to express that sentiment, sharing that racism is not an issue that should be swept under the rug.

"This is something that we have to talk about," he said. "It has to become a conversation, and it's not something we should be scared to dive into. I think my statements speak for themselves, but it's one of those things where this is not something that should just be brushed aside or ignored, and I wanted to make a statement about that." Young first addressed Floyd's death in an Instagram post on May 31. "The death of George Floyd is heartbreaking. The circumstances are terrifying. Period," he wrote at the time. "I don't know how we fix this, but this is something we HAVE to fix. Racism is NOT something that should be ignored, and is something that should not exist. Sorry, but I can't just stay silent on this."

Amid nationwide protests and the coroanvirus pandemic, Young recently released his new song, "If That Ain't God," which he called "such a special song." "I think right now a lot of people can use this. It's just a positive, uplifting message," he said. "It's talking about some of the things in life that you take for granted, whether it's little stuff or big stuff, and you look around and you're like, 'Man if that ain't God, I don't know what it is.' I was jealous that I had never thought of that title on my own before because it's just a brilliantly written song. [The songwriters] allowing me to be a part of it and put my own spin on it meant the world to me."

The song, which was written by Young, Matt Roy, Mitchell Oglesby, and Greylan James and co-produced by Young and Chris DeStefano, is all about faith, something Young called "the very first point of reference" for him as an artist. "I grew up singing in church, and my grandfather was an elder in the church that I used to go to," he shared. "Somebody would go up with a pitch pipe and they would blow a note on a pitch pipe and everybody would sing in [an] eight-part harmony. So that was something that I picked up on really early on."