Celebrating America Feels Bad Right Now: A July Protest Playlist

There’s not much to celebrate in America right now, to say the least. Between family separations at the border and immigration issues, to the threatening of repealing Roe V. Wade, to the ending of Pride month back into a culture that doesn’t always accept LGBTQ+ people. For many, celebrating America and the actions taking place in the country on the 4th of July doesn’t feel right. Here’s a counter-playlist for 4th of July celebrations and beyond, featuring songs of protest by musicians and communities that make our country great.

Sexual freedom and reproductive rights are in danger with Trump’s threats to repeal Roe V. Wade becoming a more plausible reality.

“Go Your Own Way” by Fleetwood Mac is a jam celebrating choice and making your own decisions. Stevie Nicks has always been openly pro-choice, and has openly discussed her own experiences with abortion. “Woman is a Word” by Empress Of is a feminist anthem about the strength of women. Artists like SZA and Lana Del Rey embrace their sexuality and sing openly about sex and relationships. SZA’s line, “You can never trivialize pussy,” is iconic in a time where the word “pussy” is censored, but people are allowed to use “dick” openly.

The experiences of people of color in America continue to show why change needs to happen, and why we can’t be silent against injustice.

Racial profiling, police brutality and racism are rampant in America.”I Am Her” by Shea Diamond, a trans woman of color, is an anthem of self-love in the face of discrimination and struggle. “Django Jane” is a rap about black girl magic, from Janelle Monáe, an outspoken representative and member of the queer community. “DNA.” by Kendrick Lamar is about his pride in his black heritage in the face of racism and injustice.

This past season on RuPaul’s Drag Race, RuPaul encouraged viewers to vote and participate in democracy. As a follow up, RuPaul and the show’s top 4 contestants performed RuPaul’s song “American.” Each contestant wrote a verse about their talents and their pride of being part of the queer community, rising up in the face of discrimination.

A 4th of July playlist wouldn’t be complete without some classic protest songs.

“Born in the U.S.A” by Bruce Springsteen has been a protest staple since the 1980s. Childish Gambino released “This Is America” this year, as a critique and call-out of racism in America. “Almost Like Praying” was put together by Lin Manuel-Miranda to raise money for Puerto Rico, after the devastating effects of Hurricane Maria, and little action done by the American government to send aid.

The playlist ends with “Rise Up” by Andra Day. This powerful anthem reminds us all, that even on our darkest and hardest days, we still have to rise up to fight for what’s right. We still need to march, vote and make our voices heard. This 4th of July, consider steps you can take to make America a better place. To fight against hatred, fear and discrimination to find and create justice.

4th of July

Also published on Medium.