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Thoughts on Civil Rights – probably part 1

Yesterday, I marched in the Women’s March here in Denver. I marched for myself and for everyone else whose civil rights and liberties can no longer be taken for granted. And for the equality, rights, and liberties we still have yet to achieve.

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True confession: I was a bit scared to participate. Scared of potential violence.* Scared of raising my voice to be heard. Scared of what publicly participating in such an event would mean for my relationships with my family, friends, and coworkers who have different beliefs and opinions. And then I realized that not doing something because I’m scared–not of guaranteed outcomes but of “what ifs”–was an absurd reason to not stand up and have my voice heard. We have guaranteed Freedom of Speech in this wonderful country of ours and your voice is yours to raise.

And it was an amazing day. It was peaceful and powerful and meaningful. Emphasis on peaceful. People literally all over Earth said, “Please hear me. I don’t like the future I see.” Peacefully they said this and they were blessedly peacefully received.

To me, yesterday was an incredible display of unity among those who needed to speak up. Who perhaps didn’t speak up at the voting booth, for whatever reason,** and now want their voices heard. And those who did speak up at the voting booth and feel they need to say it louder and prouder this time around.

I hope we all take away these ideas from the last few months and yesterday in particular:

1. We can have peaceful protest.

2. We must allow everyone to peacefully protest. Protest my protest if you want, it’s totally cool. But be please be cool about it.

3. I hope we build on the unity and goodwill to allow open, respectful, civil discourse about the things that concern us as citizens and people. Remember conversations are about back and forth, not one way.

4. Let’s not go backward. Reflect on the history of civil rights and examine what not having them would mean for you, your friends and family, your community, and your children’s future.

5. Voting is your voice. Peacefully marching and protesting is your voice and your protected right. Signing petitions is your voice. Writing to your representatives is your voice. USE YOUR VOICE.

It’s ok to disagree. And there are some very important things that we don’t seem able to agree on. But we can’t move forward if we can’t come together and figure it out together. Please, let’s respect each other and figure out this mess.

Lastly, why does a music blogger take the time to write passionately about your civil liberties, you ask? Because music, like all art, reflects the times and ushers in change. Rock n roll was an integral part of the Civil Rights movement 50 years ago and I feel it will be again as we journey into this uncharted (yet sadly familiar) territory. As a musician and as a concerned citizen, it would be wrong to keep quiet.

I will leave you with a few songs that have been in my head a lot lately:

Green Day’s “Troubled Times”: Admittedly I’m still adjusting (fifteen years later!) to Green Day being the political punk voice of a generation, but they aren’t shy about speaking up and I totally respect that. Their current single, while possibly counter to this post’s message, does capture what perhaps drove millions to march:

Chris Cornell’s re-imagining of Bob Dylan’s “Times They Are A-Changin'”: He’s been performing this regularly the last several years but still no official recording yet. This version is a pretty good fan recording, but if you struggle with the lyrics an intrepid person transcribed them here. Also, apparently don’t sit too close at a Chris Cornell concert!

Halestorm’s “I Am The Fire”: Lzzy Hale belts her heart out on this empowerment anthem. I feel like this is going to be my theme song for 2017. I got this. And dammit, we got this.

Keep it real, keep it cool, keep it respectful, but don’t keep quiet!

* Back in 1999, I was unintentionally caught in the middle of the chaos of the WTO Riots in Seattle. Having seen that up close and personal, I have absolutely zero desire to ever be in a violent protest ever again.
** Certainly not my readers, I’m sure you voted just to get me to stop talking about voting! And possibly the influence of Joe Perry and whipped cream. ;D

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