In my last post I analyzed H.E.R’s “I Can’t Breathe” which is a song dedicated to speaking out and against the racial inequality and police brutality going on in America currently and in the past. Given that the message is so powerful, other songs that also speak up about racial issues affecting the African American community can be used to further dive into the depth of the song. For this analysis I’ve chosen to focus on “This Is America” by Childish Gambino, “Death of Emmett Till” by Bob Dylan, and “Don’t Shoot” by The Game.

“Death of Emmett Till” by Bob Dylan -> “Don’t Shoot” by The Game -> “This Is America” by Childish Gambino

With the intense and sad history that racism and inequality have in America, it’s crucial that artists use their voice to express frustration, honesty, and support to people who are oppressed often. “Death of Emmett Till” by Bob Dylan does exactly this, as the first and oldest song of the chosen lineage, Bob Dylan focuses on the racial issues of 2010 and speaks up for Emmett Till, a young boy who was brutally murdered and lynched for the color of his skin in 1955. Seeing that Emmett Till’s tragic story happened way before the song came out, it’s evident that the same racial issues were still present, despite the major progress made for civil rights, the song emphasizes how although there’s been change in the world, newer and very difficult challenges are still ahead for the African American community. Despite all of the proof that racism lives on in society, like H.E.R. mentions in her song, some people choose to ignore it or say it’s not their problem. Dylan emphasizes how Emmett didn’t do anything wrong, but because he was black, not only was his death brutal, but his murderers were let go because their white friends were in the jury, something that many would say is the case today with the police brutality going on.

“This song is just a reminder to remind your fellow man
That this kind of thing still lives today in that ghost-robed Ku Klux Klan.
But if all of us folks that thinks alike, if we gave all we could give,
We could make this great land of ours a greater place to live.”

The Game also uses his song “Don’t Shoot” to express his frustrations with what’s happening with police brutality and killings of African Americans in America. He uses his lyrics to mention specific events in which racism has been present, and to mention how despite the fact that he’s black, he can still use his life for better things other than drinking, because he’s equal to those who abuse their power and he plans on using his craft to speak up for those who can no longer do so.

“Police taking shots and I ain’t talkin’ ’bout Ciroc/I’m talking

’bout Emmett Till, I’m talking bout Ezell Ford/I’m talking

’bout Sean Bell, they never go to jail for/Trayvon over Skittles,

Mike Brown Cigarillos/History keeps repeating itself,

like a Biggie instrumental/America’s a glass house and my revenge is mental/

Rather use my brain than throw a cocktail through a window”

In Childish Gambino’s “This Is America” which is a very popular song, he talks about the injustices happening in society currently, emphasizing in his music video and lyrics about the blatant racism in the country, the police brutality, the misuse of guns, and the immediate attack on a person for the color of their skin.. The song also emphasizes how black citizens are blamed for all of the gun violence, and drug use in their areas, which is just not true.

“You just a black man in this world
You just a barcode, ayy
You just a black man in this world
Drivin’ expensive foreigns, ayy
You just a big dawg, yeah
I kenneled him in the backyard
No proper life to a dog
For a big dog”

In H.E.R’s song “I Can’t Breathe” she expresses all of these same problems, but she uses inspiration and sadness over the death of George Floyd, like Bob Dylan and The Game both did, as well as speaking upon the police and overall racial injustices by society like Childish Gambino. All of these songs point out cruel doings by those who thought themselves to be better than other because they were rich or white, but these artists have all made it their mission to speak out and say enough is enough.