A Soundtrack for Social Justice

A tenuous verdict

On April 20, 2021 twelve jurors declared Derek Chauvin Guilty on three charges – 2nd degree murder, 3rd degree murder, and manslaughter.

Such a verdict is unheard of, evidence of true justice in the very public death and modern-day lynching of George Floyd and unequivocal accountability for law enforcement. But only this time. The collective sigh that black people around the country painfully exhaled was quickly met with renewed heartache at the shooting death of 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant by a Columbus, Ohio police. During the three-week murder trial, “at least 64 people have died at the hands of law enforcement nationwide, with Black and Latino people representing more than half of the dead” according to this New York Times article.

Guarded Optimism

We have so much work to do, but I will choose to maintain guarded optimism.

Guarded because I know the history of this country; because I have witnessed the deeply entrenched beliefs fueled by racism and misogynoir held by so many; and because I have encountered such hate at the mere notion that black lives should matter as much as, but not more than, the lives of whites.

Yet I maintain a sense of optimism because so many are no longer silent, instead choosing to use their voice and their platform to speak out against the status quo; because love is truly more powerful than hate; and because I serve a mighty God who is bigger than racism, sexism, capitalism, imperialism, colonialism, and oppression.

While I will protect my peace, I am committed to protesting on my own terms. My personal library has grown tremendously, my bookshelves lined with the writings of Ibram X. Kendi, Eddie Glaude Jr., James Baldwin, Isabel Wilkerson, and Heather McGhee. I blog honestly, my raw emotions on full display for all to read. And I am assembling my social justice playlist, songs that inspire, embolden, and require intentionality and action.

Songs of Freedom

Respect – Aretha Franklin                                                                       

One Love – Bob Marley

Freedom – Beyoncé featuring Kendrick Lamar                                

Glory – Common featuring John Legend

What’s Going On? – Marvin Gaye                                                         

This Is America – Childish Gambino

Alright – Kendrick Lamar                                                                         

Black Parade – Beyoncé

Say It Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud – James Brown                   

Don’t Touch My Hair – Solange

To Be Young, Gifted, and Black – Nina Simone                              

I Can’t Breathe – H.E.R.

Living for the City – Stevie Wonder                                                      

Fight the Power – Public Enemy

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised – Gil Scott-Heron               

Rise Up – Andra Day

A Change Is Gonna Come – Sam Cooke                                               

Inner City Blues – Marvin Gaye

Black Rage – Lauryn Hill                                                                           

We Gotta Pray – Alicia Keys

Lift Every Voice and Sing – James Weldon Johnson                             

We Shall Overcome

Get Up, Stand Up – Bob Marley and Peter Tosh                                       

Be Free – J. Cole

Weary – Solange                                                                                        

Hell You Talmbout – Janelle Monae

Cry No More – Rhiannon Giddens

What’s on your song list?

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