The Roots: Curator’s Statment
Still Here reflects how the Black communities in America are still in a state of unrest in 2016 just as it was decades ago. There is a myth of linear progress that suggests our nation is far removed from the oppression of black bodies by the hands of police who are supposed to protect them. However, you can clearly see the parallelism of injustice during the Rodney King incident of 1991 and the Mike Brown incident over 20 years later. Our nation is Still Here because the American Political Machine continues to allow police to unjustly harass and murder unarmed Black bodies without facing any sort of consequence. This oppression against black citizens has continuously gone on without any major reform to law enforcement, and the cries for freedom of oppression fail to be acknowledged by any jury.
Hip-Hop gives the people a chance to wholeheartedly voice and express their reality and discontent with the Government’s consistent ignorance of this form of oppression. The Black community and allies continue to persevere, yet often reach their breaking point in cases such as the L.A. Riots in 1992 and the Ferguson rallies in 2014. With various songs from the early 90s to present day by rappers such as Ice Cube and Kendrick Lamar, this album takes a journey into the reality of Black oppression by law enforcement in its peak moments. One can listen to the raw voices of the oppressed from various eras, and realize that the injustice towards Black people is Still Here.
The front cover shows a picture taken during the 2014 Ferguson rallies after the murdering of innocent Black male Mike Brown. The back cover shows a picture taken during the 1992 Los Angeles riots after the incident with Black male Rodney King. Both pictures show sings of social unrest, and both show militarized police forces. People claim that progress has ben made over the years, yet the images seem so similar. In fact it has gotten worse since now innocent, unarmed Black people are not just being harassed, but murdered, all without any consequence.
N.W.A – Fuck the Police – 1988 Here, the group N.W.A. takes the stance as the judge, jury, and witnesses and tell their story about being physically harassed in very uncomfortable and unreasonable ways for no apparent reason. The reality however is that even by telling this story, most police continue to get away with it, therefore they might as well fight back.
Public Enemy – Fight the Power – 1990 Public Enemy used this song as a call to action to the Black community. They are requesting that the people who are being oppressed under racial discrimination begin to use their voice and power to stand up against the people that abuse their power.
Public Enemy – 911 is a Joke – 1990 Police are supposed to be designed to protect and serve all citizens at any moments notice. In this song Public Enemy calls out these officials since they seem to rescue to Black people extremely slowly and infrequently, however they are extremely responsive and aggressive when Black people are the suspects.
Ice Cube – Who Got the Camera – 1992 In many cases of police brutality, it is often the police officer’s word over the person being harassed, but when there are video cameras to record the situation it is thought to help defend the oppressed. However, Ice Cube realizes in this song that even with a video camera and evidence, police brutality still seems to go without consequence.
KRS-One – Sound of da Police – 1993 This song brings to light the contradiction surrounding the role of the police officer. Rather than protecting the citizens from harm, these officers seem to be inflicting the harm against Black people very similar to how overseers on plantations used to inflict harm on slaves many years ago.
Brand Nubian – Claimin’ I’m a Criminal – 1994 This song highlights the racial discrimination that Black people face in the eyes of the police. Many police assume that Black people are criminals, therefore that assumption is used to justify harassing Black citizens and using unlawful force against innocent people. This usually leads to innocent Black people being taken into custody and spending time in jail.
Jeru The Damaja – Invasion – 1996 This song explains the effects of racial discrimination towards Black people by the law officials. Effects include mass incarceration of Black men, economic profit of the government, and both physical and psychological trauma for the people who are discriminated against.
Tupac – Changes – 1998 This song touches on the racial-profiling, poverty, and racism that affects many black lives. Tupac is trying to express that there is a need for change in the treatment of his people, as the “changes” that are supposedly supposed to help aren’t effective. Social issues are not solved by ignoring the issue, but this is hard to do because not everyone is willing to give up their personal interest.
J Dilla – Fuck the Police – 2001 This song is to talk about being harassed as a person of color, regardless of what social standing that he is perceived to have. The police station was down the street from where he lived and he would be searched, the police trying to find drugs. This song was made to vent the frustrations into something that can be heard by the masses instead of confronting the police, and possibly losing his life.
Kendrick Lamar – Alright – 2015 This song shows Kendrick as sort of a hero among his community. He was one of the few to break through the oppression and “make it big.” Even though he has made it big, he also shows that he is human, he shouldn’t be put on a pedestal, and he too can be shot.
Kendrick Lamar – The Blacker the Berry – 2015 This song points out people coming to a racial self-consciousness. Many people understand that there is a lot of hate, specifically just for being associated with the black community. Ultimately, this puts a psychological burden on individuals of the black community. Not only would individuals of the community hate their conditions, they divert their anger among their own peers.
Daye Jack ft Killer Mike – Hands Up – 2016 Many police officers are being charged on account of murder without being rightfully punished. Daye thinks that in order for actual change, a new legislation has to be put into effect. If not, things will only get worse.