5 Songs That Sum Up What It's Like To Be Black In America Right Now

5 Songs That Sum Up What It's Like To Be Black In America Right Now

We gon' be alright!


Six years after the death of Trayvon Martin and four years after the last words of Eric Garner were echoed into American history, not much has changed. Police officers are still murdering unarmed black people at will, and carefree black folk are treated as America's biggest problem (next to innocent immigrant children, of course.)

The revolution is so overdue that black artists have begun once again to voice their political and social opinions through their music and many of their songs have become movement-mood-music.

Here are 5 songs that pretty much sum up what it's like to be black in America.

1. "Don't Touch My Hair" by Solange.

Solange in Don't Touch My Hair Solange in Don't Touch My Hair

This beautiful song from Solange's latest album, "A Seat At The Table," is a double entendre of sorts. One could interpret it's literal meaning of, "bish, I'm not a petty zoo animal. don't touch my fukn hair," as every black woman has had to say to a non-black person at least a handful of times in their life. Or one could look at is deeper meaning of staying true to ones self in a time where self-expression, self-love and pushing boundaries seems to be frowned upon by those who want you to like in a box, as they have chosen to do. Truth is, a lot of older people were sold a lie. They were told that if they stayed within the confines of gender "norms," always opted for reality over creativity and only did what was necessary to please others, they would live their best life. Turns out shit hit the fan when their entire lives passed them by and they spent almost all of it not being true to themselves or doing what their hearts wanted.

Solange has always embraced her creative spirit though her artistry and fashion and had been the epitome of #BlackGirlMagic.

2. "Freedom" by Beyonce ft. Kendrick Lamar.

Michael Brown Lesley McSpadden (Mother of Michael Brown) in "Lemonade"

Of course Solange's big sister, Beyonce, would make this list. "Freedom," from Bey's 6th solo album, "Lemonade," is an anthem of resilience. The biggest theme of the song, self reliance.

I'ma riot, I'ma riot through your borders/Call me bulletproof

I break chains all by myself/Won't let my freedom rot in hell
Hey! I'ma keep running/Cause a winner don't quit on themselves

The lyrics reminds me of Jessie Williams' 2016 BET speech, where he says,

What is going to happen is, we are going to have equal rights and justice on our own country or we will restructure their function and ours

Beyonce's collaboration with rapper Kendrick Lamar is a rally to black folk. We have wanted long enough for the government to grow moral fibers and do right by our people. The time is now for black people to force a revolution.

3. "Alright" by Kendrick Lamar.

Alright Kendrick Lamar in "Alright"

Kendrick Lamar's song became one of the official, unofficial songs of the Black Lives Matter Movement as protesters often chant his lyric, "We gon' be alright." Alongside powerful lyrics, Lamar offered up an even more powerful video with nods to the massacre victims of the Emanuel AME Church in South Carolina, Sam DuBose and Aiyana Jones. The video doesn't just reference those unarmed lives taken by police, but those taken by racists our government protects.

Wouldn't you know
We been hurt, been down before
Nigga, when our pride was low
Lookin' at the world like, "Where do we go?"
Nigga, and we hate po-po
Wanna kill us dead in the street fo sho'
Nigga, I'm at the preacher's door
My knees gettin' weak, and my gun might blow
But we gon' be alright'

4. "Glory" by Common & John Legend.

Selma Movie Cast of "Selma"

Glory was written for the Academy Award contending film "Selma," that chronicled the historic marches across the Edmund Pettus Bridge linking Montgomery to Selma. This beautiful song written by Common and Legend ties the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960's to today's fight for equal rights and social justice.

Justice for all just ain't specific enough
One son died, his spirit is revisitin' us
Truant livin' livin' in us, resistance is us
That's why Rosa sat on the bus
That's why we walk through Ferguson with our hands up
When it go down we woman and man up
They say, "Stay down", and we stand up
Shots, we on the ground, the camera panned up
King pointed to the mountain top and we ran up

5. This Is America by Childish Gambino.

This Is America Childish Gambino in "This Is America"

"This Is America" is a four-minute video laden with with imagery and metaphors of race and gun violence in America. Though hard to watch, the provocative video is a mirror of American's sometimes deadly and sometimes nonchalant attitude when it comes to the issues of race and gun violence.

The video starts of with an upbeat tune to the words, "We just wanna party," but the party ends abruptly as a black man playing his guitar suddenly appears in a straitjacket and is gunned down.

Gambino calls out America's nasty habit of pretending everything is fine while failing to pass common sense gun laws and it's complicity in numerous shootings of unarmed black people by cops and by racists. The video's intense imaginary includes that of the massacre at the African AME church and 17 seconds of silence for the 17 lives lost at Marjory Stoneman Douglass.

While black artists will continue to shed light on the issues out community faces, one can only hope that at some point it will be enough to enact real change.

Cover Image Credit:

Vlad Tchompalov

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Cover Image Credit: TeacherPop

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