8 Songs For Everyone Who Cares About Equal Rights
In the aftermath of the Trayvon Martin verdict, many of us who care about equal rights are feeling very disillusioned, to say the least. We cheered Wendy Davis on through her marathon filibuster against the Texas abortion ban only to watch it be signed into law. And while it wasn’t too long ago that we were celebrating the Supreme Court's decision to strike down DOMA, we know it’s not actually dead yet.
For those of us who care about equality, in all of its forms, it can often feel like a frustrating yet exhilarating full time job. For a lot of us it literally is our life’s work as well as our passion. While we can celebrate how far we have come, we are constantly reminded of how long we have to go. For those of you still trying to keep the hope alive, whatever that may mean for you, here is a list of songs to ease your weary soul.
1. 'Same Love' by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
While it’s obviously about acceptance of the LGBT community and particularly relevant in the wake of DOMA and Prop 8, Macklemore goes a step further in reminding us that hate, in all of its forms, is connected and structural, serving as a reminder that in order to counter any of it, we have to fight all of it.
It's the same hate that's caused wars from religion
Gender to skin color, complexion of your pigment
The same fight that led people to walk-outs and sit-ins
Human rights for everybody, there is no difference
2. 'One Day' by Matisyahu
Being an activist for equal rights can be exhausting, so let Mastiyahu remind you that one day it will all be worth it.
Sometimes in my tears I drown
But I never let it get me down
So when negativity surrounds
I know some day it'll all turn around because...
All my life I've been waiting for
I've been praying for
For the people to say
That we don't wanna fight no more
There will be no more wars
And our children will play
3. 'Define Me' by Ryan Amador feat. Jo Lambert
This incredibly heartfelt song about the struggles of dealing with prejudice and homophobia, calls upon us to start a party free from judgment and full of love.
We’re starting this party right here
Where people will shake off fears
And mass tolerance is replaced with resistance
And everyone cheers
That they love a man
Or they love a woman
And no one will be judged for love
And I can’t be judged for who I am
4. 'Amendment' by Ani DiFranco
Perhaps Wendy Davis could’ve filled some time in her filibuster by singing this little pro-women, pro-choice ditty.
And if you don't like abortion
Don't have an abortion
And teach your children
How they can avoid them
But don't treat all women
Like they are your children
Compassion has many faces
And if men can kill and be decorated
Instead of blamed
Then a woman called upon to mother
Can choose to refrain
5. 'What's Going On?' All Star Tribute
Marvin Gaye had it right all along, but what is more fun than this totally 2000s all-star tribute featuring none other than Destiny’s Child, Limp Bizkit, and Ja Rule? If N’SYNC and The Backstreet Boys could come together in the height of their boy-band rivalry to make this tribute for AIDS awareness, maybe there is hope for world peace after all.
We don't need to escalate
You see, war is not the answer
For only love can conquer hate
You know we've got to find a way
To bring some lovin' here today
Picket lines and picket signs
Don't punish me with brutality
Talk to me, so you can see
Oh, what's going on
6. 'A Change is Gonna Come' (Sam Cooke cover) by Zhi
The hope not only that change will come, but that we can play a tangible role in making that change become a reality, is what keeps most of us going at the end of the day. While the original version of this song is a Sam Cooke classic, I wanted to share this cover by a fellow LSE alum (who I don’t actually know, super creepy, you’re welcome Zhi).
There were times when I thought I couldn't last for long
But now I think I'm able to carry on
It's been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gone come, oh yes it will
7. 'With God On Our Side' by Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan’s 1964 track that questions the morality of things done in the name of God remains ever relevant today.
But now we got weapons
Of the chemical dust
If fire them we're forced to
Then fire them we must
One push of the button
And a shot the world wide
And you never ask questions
When God's on your side
In a many dark hour
I've been thinkin' about this
That Jesus Christ
Was betrayed by a kiss
But I can't think for you
You'll have to decide
Whether Judas Iscariot
Had God on his side
8. 'Yes We Can'
Bear with me on this one. So it’s not technically a song, or at least it wasn’t until Will.I.Am turned it into a handy campaigning tool for Obama’s 2008 election. I know it’s nearly impossible to separate this from our current president, and the many disappointments we may have with him to date, but if you take it at face value it’s a promise of progress, change, and hope that we all share. When I listen to this now, the “we” for me is not the Obama administration, but all of us who are working towards equal rights and how together we can ultimately achieve the change that was promised to us. If for nothing else, I hope you can appreciate a reminder of the awesomely random celebrity cameos in this.
We know the battle ahead will be long
But always remember that no matter
What obstacles stand in our way
Nothing can stand in the way of the power
Of millions of voices calling for change
We have been told we cannot do this by a chorus of cynics
They will only grow louder and more dissonant
We've been asked to pause for a reality check
We've been warned against offering
The people of this nation false hope
But in the unlikely story that is America
There has never been anything false about hope
What are your favorite equal rights anthems to get you through the day?