It’s that time of year! We’ll watch kids go off to school, and some of us return return as students, teachers, and staff. Despite the continuing crisis surrounding the funding of our public schools and the ridiculous reality of a person named Betsy DeVos, let’s celebrate what can be learned at our schools and on our college campuses. Radical change happens, and it often starts at school. So, welcome back!
You can also listen to these songs and more on Unsweetened: A Playlist for a Feminist Future on Spotify.
Aretha Franklin, “Think”
Aretha Franklin was more than a soul musician; she was a vocal civil rights activist. For her, thinking and freedom are inextricably linked.
Michelle Pfeiffer, “Cool Rider”
For the past few years, Grease 2 has been celebrated by some critics as a feminist film about teen womanhood, self-awareness, and confident sexuality at Rydell High. I’ll take it – along with a C-O-O-L-R-I-D-E-R (I know we could’ve went with “Back to School,” but this one is more fun).
Alice Bag, “Programmed”
Alice Bag is not a fan of the Scantron.
Deqn Sue, “Unicorn”
An anthem to the crushing self-doubt that we have to overcome to understand how truly amazing we are. Listen up, young folx!
Team Dresch, “Growing Up in Springfield”
Young love and teen rebellion against bigotry and oppression from queercore 90s superheroes, Team Dresch.
Esperanza Spalding, “Black Gold”
Genre-bending composer, bassist and vocalist, Esperanza Spalding encourages people to educate themselves in pre-colonial African history in order to draw strength and pride from the ancestors.
P!nk, “Stupid Girl”
“Girls with ambition, that’s what I want to see.”
Ana Tijoux, “La Bala”
In this song, which translates to “The Bullet,” Tijoux gives a shout-out to Chile’s recent wave of youth-led street protests demanding education reforms and attacking the country’s growing gulf between rich and poor.
Lauryn Hill, “Everything Is Everything”
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the release of The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, a groundbreaking hip hop and R&B album and Hill’s debut as a solo artist. She took as inspiration Carter G. Woodson’s The Mis-Education of the Negro, a scathing indictment on the state of the education of black Americans in the early 20th century by the founder of Black History Month. Hill used the idea of the classroom as a touchstone for learning from painful truths and transforming unjust realities.
Welcome back to school! Listen to more here: