Americans by Janelle Monae contains multiple levels of critique. The song critiques oppressive policies that have caused harm to minorities during the verses and critiques the mindset of American conservatives during the bridge and pre-chorus of the song by parodying them. The first verse contains many critiques to racist policies and actions that have occurred against black people throughout the history of the nation. Monae critiques police involved shootings of innocent black people with the line “Hands go up, men go down”. Further down the verse, Monae says “die in church, live in jail, say her name…”. This line may be only nine words long, but it references and subsequently critiques various anti-black topics. Die in church is a reference to the Charleston Church shooting. This horrific event was a racist hate crime. Monae is critiquing the fact that black people can’t even peacefully pray in a house of worship without being targeted by racists. The next three words “Live in jail” is pointing out how black people are disproportionally serving jail sentences as a part of the prison industrial complex. Lastly, “say her name” is a nod to Sandra Bland. She was a black woman who died in jail under questionable circumstances after a routine traffic stop ( Her death became a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement and Monae pays tribute to her in this song. The bridge, pre-chorus, and chorus of Americans critique the thought process of conservative white males. Monae puts on the persona of one of the people and critiques conservative talking points by essentially embodying one. Monae critiques the conservative viewpoint by pointing out their outdated view of gender roles (women being in the kitchen/not being a dominant part of the household), the way they force their children to believe in religion (“I teach my children superstitions”), and how they are obsessed with the idea of owning guns. Monae once again switches back to her own persona for the next verse. She critiques the wage gap between men and women ( One of my favorite critiques in the song comes later in the verse when she says ‘You see my color before my vision. Sometimes I wonder if you were blind, would it help you make a better decision?” Monae is saying how people are so prejudiced that she wonders if people couldn’t see that she was a black woman; would she be given more opportunities etc. Speaking of genre, this song being a mix of funk and spoken word add layers of critique. This is because she genres are inherently based on social critique through lyrics and Americans is no different. The spoken bridge adds layers to the song and add new elements of critique to the song. For example, the bridge adds anti-Trump messaging to the song. Monae does not explicitly say any policy solutions for the critiques that she brings up during the song. However, I would argue that it is not her job to solve all of these problems. In fact, the very action of her mentioning all of these critiques that she has with America and its racist and sexist ideas in a song is courageous in of itself and should be celebrated.