Pro Black Anthems 2020 Ranked by Cliche


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By Lee M Pierce. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

When you’re talking about anything pro-Black in America, you’re going to run into a crossroads between making Black culture accessible, translatable to White hegemony or making it about elevating and celebrating Black culture in its distinctness from Whiteness. There is no right answer here. It’s just an ever-present decision.

One of the ways that tension gets navigated is the degree to which a text uses cliches. From comforting reassurance and quippy banality to unsettling juxtaposition and strong signifiers of unapologetic Black empowerment, this list of pro-Black Anthems of 2020 demonstrates the variety of ways that speech (in this case song) can challenge, undermine, shape, and respond to the ongoing work of civil rights.

Depending on your criteria, my number 5 might be your number 1 but in the end the point of the ranking isn’t really the ranking; I’m not the Oscars. It’s a thought experiment to demonstrate the tensions constantly plaguing civil rights protest and it also demonstrates the pros and cons of cliches as a rhetorical strategy.

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Alternative lists of pro-Black protest songs

Other resources used in this episode:

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