Whether students need a song for a short clip of a collage of different social justice events, a documentary, a song to listen while on the way to a protest, or some songs to play during a protest; here are some of my favorite picks to let out your inner social justice warrior.
“Alright” by Kendrick Lamar
“Wouldn’t you know / We been hurt, been down before / ***** when our pride was low / lookin’ at the world like where do we go?”
When it comes to looking for some social and racial justice songs, Kendrick Lamar is an artist you can always turn to. The message he portrays in this song is that we are going to be “alright.” “We” possibly meaning Black people in the United States and how one day, they will get the justice they deserve. The music video to this song symbolizes that Black people in America should be able to live carelessly and free without fearing for their life, specifically from the police: “
And we hate po-po / Wanna kill us dead in the street fo sho’”
In the beginning of the video, Lamar and some of his friends are vibing to music in the car, and the camera zooms out to reveal that the car is being carried by cops instead of being driven. The song and video are a symbol for police brutality and how people just want to feel free in their own neighborhoods.
“Paranoia” by Chance the Rapper
Chance the Rapper worked hard to get to where he is now, and he never forgets where he came from. He constantly represents his city, Chicago, in his music and raps about the injustices that he faced there. He has brought awareness to the discrimination that people still face there today. This song represents the paranoia he, along with hundreds of others, faced that the trauma in his life has left him with:
“It just got warm out, this the sh*t I’ve been wanted ‘bout / I hope that it storm in the mornin’, I hope that it’s pourin’ out / I hate crowded beaches, I hate the sound of fireworks”
Here Chance implies how summer is usually supposed to be the best of the year because the weather is nice, yet in Chicago it just means there are more people on the streets, signifying that there is more violence. The sound of fireworks is a constant reminder of hearing gunshots, but fireworks during the summer also hints at the Fourth of July. This holiday is supposed to represent the celebration of the freedom of the country, but not everyone feels free in this country.
“White Privilege II” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Macklemore has been an ally to all sorts of minority groups, and in this song he goes into depth about how others perceive him and also how he thinks of himself. The song is over 8 minutes long with recordings of various people talking about their opinions on Black Lives Matter that Macklemore does a voiceover for. Additionally, he adds protesters shouting in parts of the background of the song. I think this is an important song especially if you are questioning about how to be a supportive ally for BLM, because it seems like Macklemore is questioning himself throughout the song.
“You speak about equality, but do you really mean it? / Are you marching for freedom, or when it’s convenient?”
This line in the song initiates some good questions. It seems like people only participate in social justice events for “clout.” Meaning that there are people who want to show that they are being supportive of a movement, without actually being supportive. They’ll go to a protest to snap a few pictures then leave. They’ll do a small post on social media and forget the whole thing the next day. They can say they’re supportive of BLM, yet refuse to call out any injustices they or people around them contribute to everyday. This goes to show how social media has really changed the way people get to show their activism and whether they are being legit or not.
— Ashley Meza