In these pressing times, the world can be a dark place and when you’re black it can be even darker. Although there’s a lot to celebrate during Black History Month, I wanted my first post to be a reminder that although were aren’t really talking about it anymore, Black people and indigenous people are still taking a stance against police brutality and the systemic racism that exist in our society.
Whether you are or have been in the streets protesting, using your voice in your workplace or having tough discussions within your friend group, the battle is uphill. To keep you motivated, here are 10 songs that will remind you of what we’re fighting for because as the late Kobe Bryant once said, “job ain’t finished”.
Joey Bada$$ – Land of the Free
“In the land of the free, it’s full of free loaders
Leave us dead in the streets to be their organ donors.
They disorganized my people, made us all loners
Still got the last names of our slave owners” – Joey Bada$$
This song resonates with me heavy. Speaking for myself personally, my last name belonged to that of my ancestor’s previous slave owners. Whether I take pride in my last name or not, the reality is that my family name was taken away and replaced by that of an oppressor. A constant reminder that you had something taken away from you.
Every time you sign a document, raise your hand in class or pull out your ID, it can all still be a reminder.
“And the sirens plus red and blue lights told me, pull over
I should feel safer, but expired plates on old Toyotas “ – D Smoke
These song lyrics just explain themselves. Black people feel entirely different when they hear sirens behind them. What should result in a ticket, often leads to an awful encounter with police that you hope to make it home from.
Thankfully I’ve been blessed enough to make it home, but there are so many that did not. Their families are forever in my thoughts and prayers.
“All we wanted was a chance to talk
Stead’ we only got outlined in chalk” – D’Angelo.
This song is a reminder from the neo-soul legend that we don’t receive the same treatment as others in the eyes of the police. Having a conversation regarding a broken taillight isn’t supposed to lead to someone dying.
Just to list off some of the many names:
R.I.P. Rayshad Brooks
R.I.P. Philando Castille
R.I.P. Gabriella Nevarez
R.I.P. Sandra Bland
Nina Simone – I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to be Free
“I wish I knew how it would feel to be free
I wish I could break all the chains holding me
I wish I could say all the things that I should say” – Nina Simone
These lyrics were written during the unsettling Jim Crow era in the Southern United States, but don’t the lyrics still seem pretty reflective of today’s world? Maybe that’s because the fight is still ongoing, and we still haven’t changed as a society to the degree that we need to. We’ve made strides, but there’s still a long way to go.
Public Enemy – Fight the Power
“Fight the power
We’ve got to fight the powers that be” – Public Enemy
Simple but powerful. If we want to see changes to the world we live in, we have to use our voices together to fight those that want things to stay the exact same as they were before this pandemic. The protests, the petitions, the movement can’t be all for nothing.
“I woke up this morning to a cop with a gun
Who told me that he looking for a nigga on the run” – Killer Mike
Sounds familiar? If you’re Black or an Indigenous person , I’m sure you’ve heard this or something along these lines’ one too many times. How often did you really match the description of the person they were looking for?
“Uh, and when I wake up
I recognize you’re looking at me for the pay cut”
It’s an uplifting song for Black people fighting systemic oppression but even in that there’s a reminder here that the music industry is not exempt from negative effects on our people. It profits off Black people more than Black people profit off their own work. Even when we create, we don’t receive fair compensation.
More Black artists are stuck in poor contracts or simply do not benefit the way they should for their creativity and innovation.
“You should’ve been downtown
The people are risin’
We thought it was a lockdown
They opened the fire” – Anderson Paak
Oh, you thought Covid-19 was going to be the only thing to disproportionately kill black people? Nope, cops are still killing black women for just being asleep in their bed at home.
“But we will never show fear
Even in my eyes
I will always rise
In wildfires” – SAULT
Honestly, I wasn’t familiar with this group until the protests started in 2019 but what a statement project. These lyrics are so powerful, especially during these times. Regardless of the pain of our people, we will rise.
Run the Jewels – walking in the snow
“And you so numb, you watch the cops choke out a man like me
Until my voice goes from a shriek to whisper, I can’t breathe” – Killer Mike
George Floyd. Eric Garner. Let’s stop adding to this list. I know there’s names I’m missing. We need change and not just the change that sounds cool on tv, we need our communities to be safe for Black and Indigenous people to live in.