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I’ve stopped watching the news on TV.
It seemed that every week something new and disgusting was happening: some black person was killed by a police officer. Some officer who killed a black person walked away without any accountability. There were riots. There was talk of mass deportations of hispanic people. A presidential hopeful talked of grabbing women by their genitalia. A whole city in Michigan hasn’t had clean drinking water for two years. Native Americans fought to protect their water supply from potential environmental catastrophe. It was all too much for me. So, I turned off TV news.
But in the age of social media and mobile communications it is nearly impossible to escape news of what’s going on. Even though I’d shut off news from my TV, news reports still scrolled across my timeline: another black person killed by cops and nobody is held accountable. Those Native Americans are faced with violence as they stood up for their environmental concerns. That presidential hopeful says more insensitive, offensive and inexcusable things and Americans vote him into the White House. Those people in Michigan still don’t have clean water.
The harrowing images of all of that has taken place over the last few years are seared into our memories. We remember the images of bodies in the street and on the sidewalks. We remember the crying mothers. We remember the images of children crying fearfully as presidential election results became clear. The pictures are altogether unforgettable.
Many of the images that have been written on our memories this year and in recent years seem like relics of another time. It is sometimes hard to distinguish many of these pictures from the photos we remember from the 1960’s. The striking similarities can easily make us question if we’ve made any progress in this country at all. The looks of the eyes, the postures, the outrage, the pain and desperation we see in these photographs looks all to familiar. They can easily give rise to a cynical view that nothing has changed in America; that nothing will ever change here.
I have felt those pangs of hopelessness and cynicism and righteous indignation. I’ve cried sorrowful tears looking at images we’ve seen over the last few years. I’ve wrestled with numbness and despondency. At times I’ve been overwhelmed with a profound sense of hopelessness about my future, my family’s future, my people’s future and this country’s future. It got to the point that I was flooded with all of it. I couldn’t deal with all of the images and commentary. It was too much. I had to turn off what I could.
I think a lot of us have come to battle with these same emotions in 2016 and the 2-3 years that preceded it. That’s why I wanted to release this recording at the end of this year. This song is defiant. It doesn’t leave any space for complacency. This is a song that says despondency, cynicism and hopelessness are too easy. This song speaks to the soul and says, “Get up. We’re not there yet!”
As we enter 2017, I hope the voice and spirit of this song help to reframe our remembrance of all that we have seen in the last few years. We cannot afford to be hopeless. We have lost far too much already. We cannot afford to be cynical. We cannot afford to be despondent. I hope this song reminds you of that.
We have to do better than being hopeful. We have to KNOW change is coming because knowing it is on the way is what will give us the strength of heart to fight for it.
It is true. It has been a long time coming.
But I know a change is gonna come.
Oh. Yes. It. Will.