2018 is going to be a year of change and possibility. But with the current administration its difficult not to feel beat up and hopeless. Each day we face the onslaught of indignity with all of the isms. So here at Unsweetened, we have put together a Spotify playlist – Unsweetened: A Playlist for a Feminist Future – to help motivate us to fight for social justice this year. The playlist is packed with revolutionary artists using their voices to highlight struggle, tell important stories, and create community. It is a work in progress. We will add music to it regularly with varying themes and time periods. We hope it will give you inspiration to shape your revolutionary feminist vision for the future.
Here’s some highlights from the new playlist to inspire you this week:
Tori Amos, Silent All These Years
We kick off this playlist with Silent All of these Years by the amazing singer-songwriter Tori Amos as a reminder to ourselves that 2018 is the year that the silence stops.
Miriam Makeba, Malcolm X
This song performed by Miriam Makeba and written by her daughter is similar to African praise songs of West Africa. Makeba (1932-2008), also known as Mama Africa, was a South African singer, a United Nations goodwill ambassador, and civil rights activist. The song celebrates the life and career of Malcolm X.
Dolly Parton, 9 to 5
Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5 may not be what first comes to mind when you think of a revolutionary protest song, but we think there is inspiration to be found in Dolly’s 1980 hit. You do deserve that promotion.
Rebeca Lane, Alma Mestiza
Guatemalan rapper Rebeca Lane uses hip-hop to work for social justice and teach history. In an interview with PRI, she talks about the death of members of her family during the civil war in Guatemala’s in the 1980s and how that influenced her music. She put together the Somos Guerreras, or “we are warriors,” tour as a grassroots effort to build a “network of women doing hip-hop in Central America.”Lane says, “I think it’s very important for women to let go of the idea that other women are our enemies, which is what we learn in this heteropatriarchy. I think it’s very brave for women to stop thinking that and trying to understand that we are all sisters and that we’ve all been through the same things and we have to help each other.”
Bikini Kill, Rebel Girl
A 1990s anthem by Bikini Kill, Rebel Girl, gives us lots of riotous inspiration, but Kathleen Hanna, Billy Karren, Kathi Wilcox, and Tobi Vail also remind us to love all of you rebel girls.
Buffy Sainte-Marie, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee
With the move to reduce environmental requirements for infrastructure projects, Buffy Sainte-Marie’s political songs about indigenous peoples are a must listen. Born in 1941 on the Piapot Plains Cree First Nation Reserve in Saskatchewan, Canada, she sings:
“Indian legislation on the desk of a do-right Congressman
Now, he don’t know much about the issue
so he picks up the phone and he asks advice from the
Senator out in Indian country
A darling of the energy companies who are
ripping off what’s left of the reservations.”
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
Shea Diamond, I Am Her
A New Yorker born in Little Rock, Arkansas, Shea Diamond told Time magazine that “she was born into a gender role that she did not accept.” She ran away from home as a teen and ended up incarcerated for ten years, “where she discovered others of trans experience who helped her find her voice.” Diamond wrote “I Am Her” as a statement to a world that said I shouldn’t exist. I am her.
The Staples Sisters, Freedom Highway
In a 2017 interview with The Guardian, Mavis Staples says: “All that progress we made – and now we have a liar in the White House who just spurts out hate. I’ve just got to keep on singing my songs.” Her 1965 song, Freedom Highway, is swinging, rocking roll song that references the 1955 murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till in Mississippi. It’s a reminder of the past that is too close to home in 2018.
Helly Luv, Revolution
Helly Luv’s music combines traditional Middle Eastern and pop music. The singer, who was born in Iran grew up in Finland, has allegedly received death threats from ISIS Islamist militants since release of the video for this song about not being afraid to fight. In an interview with Henry Austin with NBC News, she says: “As an artist my weapon is not guns, my weapon is my music.” It’s our weapon too.
If you like what you heard here, listen to the entire playlist here: Unsweetened: A Playlist for a Feminist Future and check back next week for a new dose of feminist protest inspiration!