The United Injustices of America: Coping Through Music
By: Katie Hovde
Cover photo by: Eric Nopanen
While there is always good happening around us, often where we don’t always think to look, it is still crucial to have ways to cope with the inundation of general fuckery we have to deal with every day when we turn on the news or look at Facebook. For me, music is what I always turn to. When I turn on NPR and I hear more horrible things that are happening around the country with little to no progress in fixing them, I switch and try to stoke my soul with art. After all, isn’t that why we have art? All this being said, I want to provide you a playlist of sorts with songs that represent each person I can think of who has been wronged by some of the recent events in this country; I’ve also included my favorite lyric from each song. As I’m a cisgender, middle-class, straight white female in the Pacific Northwest, I’m positive that there is someone I won’t have represented in this list. If that is the case, please don’t hesitate to reach out and I would love nothing more than to find a song that represents you.
The United States of America in 2018 is a place of upheaval, corruption, and what feels like an endless spewing of hatred. If you are anything other than a straight white man, the world probably does not feel like a kind place for you to be living in right now. That’s because based on our country’s policies and the people who create them, it isn’t. Families are being torn apart, people of color are still being abused and sometimes killed in a flurry of absolute cruelty and senselessness, Russia basically has Trumps nuts on a string, and basically we are all just living in a perpetual shitstorm. Shit fucking sucks right now.
For people of color, and in this song’s case, black women: Lullaby by Tasha - Sweet and sonorous, calming and reassuring. Black women, you are not alone. You have an army behind you, even if you can’t always see it. “Black girl, we’ll leave this fight for someone else for now. You can close your eyes, let your hair down. Breathe in, breathe out.”
For women, of all shapes, sizes, and backgrounds: Rise Up by Andra Day - I have been listening to this song almost once a day because it reminds me of the strength that all women have in them. When things get hard, we rise up. When everyone is against us, we rise up. When a problem needs to be solved, we rise up. “And I’ll rise up, I’ll rise like the day. I’ll rise up, I’ll rise unafraid. I’ll rise up, and I’ll do it a thousand times again. And I’ll rise up, high like the waves. I’ll rise up, in spite of the ache. I’ll rise up, and I’ll do it a thousand times again.”
For LGBTQIA+ identifying individuals: I Want to Break Free by Queen - Why in the actual fuck is loving someone still being criminalized? Every human needs and deserves love. “I want to break free. I want to break free. I want to break free from your lies. You’re so self-satisfied, I don’t need you. I’ve got to break free. God knows, God knows I want to break free.”
For families that have been detained and separated from one another: One Way or Another by Blondie - Do not give up hope. There are a lot of good people that are working to get families back together the way it should have been all along. “One way or another, I’m gonna find ya, I’m gonna get ya, get ya.”
For allies: Have It All by Jason Mraz - Allies, we are needed now more than ever. Our friends, family, and other loved ones need us. We can’t give up this fight. “Well here’s to the hearts that you’re gonna break. Here’s to the lives that you’re gonna change. Here’s to the infinite possible ways to love you. I want you to have it. Here’s to the good times we’re gonna have. You don’t need money, you got a free pass. Here’s to the fact that I’ll be sad without you. I want you to have it all.”
For white supremacists: Tolerance by Michael Franti - You think your way of thinking is right, but I can promise you it is anything but. This world needs tolerance. Your cause wouldn’t exist without the people you hate so much. This world thrives on difference, not sameness. “Oh give a little tolerance, tolerance. We need you more and more. So lend a hand or simply hold a friend that’s in need of a life support. Draw a picture, share a whisper. Anyway that you can rise above. And when the end is near, who is gonna volunteer to be the last one to die for love?”
For anyone who practices a non-Christian religion: Northern Soul by Above and Beyond - I’m having a hard time writing a caption for this because I just simply don’t understand the hate toward non-Christians. Again, difference is what makes this world a beautiful place to live and here in America we should be thankful that we are surrounded with people different from us; because it makes us all richer. “You can break my heart and crush my dreams, but you can never take my soul. You can crack my stones and melt my steels, but you can never take my soul.”
For people in the #MeToo movement: Save Myself by Dash Berlin - I know how difficult it is to talk about sexual assault and all the ways you have had to endure it. You aren’t alone. Keep pressing on. We owe it to the next generation. “I can be my hero, got my armor on. No more hiding ‘cause I was the answer all along. I don’t need a rescue, I can find my way. I’m the only one I’ll count on to come save the day.”
I hope that these songs can help you find solace in these trying times. Things will get better, they usually always do. We have to stick together and things will get better.