No matter where you are, you can protest — protest the capitalist labor routines that form our lives by resting, or by hopping on the public transit and heading downtown to protest on the front lines. You can protest anywhere in the world, and anywhere in between the two extremes. With demonstrations rocking the country — DC’s removal of military troops, the National Guard pulling out of LA, and New York lifting curfew early — to the global demonstrations of solidarity against police brutality — like protesters in London removing a slave trader statue — we felt it necessary and exciting to provide a soundtrack to the work we’re doing day by day, together.
Protest is a conscious rejection of the systems of illegitimate power that plague our society and have done so for the past century — no, millennia. All of human history, dare we say? Not to say there haven’t been examples of just rule, because there have been, but they are not the majority, and they last for relatively short times. Now, it’s time for justice to rule.
People want to be treated fairly. Some seek what is not rightfully theirs, others join for the thrill of it, still others exploit instability to promote chaos, but most protest the system of governance that devalues and thus justifies robbing the lives of Black and brown youth from their communities. No matter why you’re protesting today, you can find solace in the fat that hundreds of millions of people join you today, and will continue for months. We will not stop.
The world is changing for the better, but it has to get worse before it does so. That is the meaning of a “blue period” or “hard times.” It’s a labor of sorts: it guarantees the birth of a new life, a new way of thinking and emerging from the struggles we experience victorious.
Black people have consistently been at the front lines challenging inequity, calling for systemic change, and thus making life better for just about everyone around them. We have to continue in this fight if we want true progression.
Below is a playlist of artists new and old, present and passed, that echo the spirit of the movement and are unafraid to tell their stories. The resonant encouragement that seeps through every song, whether it be a contemplative jazz ballad harkening to the freedom movement of the sixties, or a spirited, truth-bomb-dropping soliloquy set to the hum-drum of beats and a repetitive melody, echoes the fact that though the method may be different, the message is still the same. We will tell the truth, and by doing so, we will overcome. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
Like the bright youth of today have said, history repeats itself, and each time we come to a regurgitation of pure sentiment and frustration, we reach the conclusion that things have still not been solved. We are at a peak, and we must remember that in the valley, the work continues.
Enjoy the sounds of Gil Scott-Heron, Public Enemy, John Coltrane, Mumu Fresh, Nas, Common, August Greene, Lauryn Hill, Bob Marley and the Wailers, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, and so many other artists as we take a journey through the crossroads of time: past, future, and now.