Where are the Protest Songs?

There is an old Chinese curse, “你可能生活在有趣的时代” (Nǐ kěnéng shēnghuó zài yǒuqù de shídài) that translates to “May you live in interesting times.” It seems as though, since the 2016 election that we are in the throes of that curse.

I’m not naive enough to believe that the times in which we are living are any more or less interesting than any other periods of history. It is easy, though, to fall prey to that mindset when every day we witness so many worrisome events. Trump’s recent bad behavior at the G7 conference adds to the evidence.

In the late 60’s I was a sheltered little girl living in rural Floydada, Texas. I wasn’t completely clueless, though. I knew about the Vietnam War, after all, it came to our television sets direct from the battlefields every night. Also on my tv I watched protesters marching against the war, young men burning their draft cards and seeking asylum in Canada. And, I’d seen television coverage of the Civil Rights movement. The clashes between protesters and police officers were disturbing, but in my little cocoon none of that really touched me.

Then in May of 1970 four college students protesting the Vietnam War were killed by National Guardsmen on the campus of Kent State in Ohio. I was 13, not much younger than the students who lost their lives that day. The desire to make my voice heard began to rise.

I’d love to tell you that I immediately left my home to join in angry protests, but again, I was just 13. I did start paying attention, though, not just to the protests, but to the protest songs.

Like this one from Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young.

https://youtu.be/9GXtQfXBAmM

Lately I’ve begun wondering where are today’s protest songs? Am I so old that I am unable to recognize them as such? Are there artists putting out meaningful lyrics that make young people feel the need to change the world? If you know of any, please pass the knowledge along. We need protest anthems for these interesting times.

What We Lost

Studly Doright was out of town much of last week. My days were busy, but my nights were long and empty without my favorite guy here to make sure the tv was set either on American Pickers or Sports Center. I find that I’m not nearly as fluent in the art of Remote Control Manipulation as Studly.

On Wednesday evening I took myself to see Hidden Figures, a film about the importance of a group of African American women as human computers at NASA in the early 1960’s, and the obstacles they faced while simply trying to do their jobs. 

Because they were Black, these women weren’t allowed to use any restrooms other than the one in their wing of the building, often necessitating long, frantic walks to take care of basic needs. Because they were Black, they couldn’t get coffee from the communal pot in their office. Because they were Black and female they weren’t allowed to sit in on critical meetings, even when their presence might have resulted in quicker solutions.

This is a good film, and it made me furious. It should make all of us furious. When I think of all we have lost as a nation because we refused to recognize the abilities, the talents, the intelligence of all people regardless of race or gender I want to scream. 

Who knows what diseases might have been cured, what inventions developed, if society hadn’t been so intent on excluding women in general and women of color in particular from full participation in society?

And what groups of people are we excluding now? What groups do we try to keep in their place? Oh, maybe there aren’t separate restrooms anymore, but our new commander-in-chief would love to discriminate against Mexican Americans and Muslim Americans. He treats women as chattel to be grabbed as needed. 

My rant is over, but this argument isn’t. Get pissed off. Don’t allow trump to segregate or alienate or exclude any group of people because of his fears, his insecurities. 

Now I’m going to master that damned remote control. If a group of women could figure out how to put men in space and safely bring them back to earth, I can surely figure out how to efficiently switch between multiple channels in order to avoid commercial interruptions.

Peace, people.