You can expect to hear more protest songs as the scourges of police brutality and systemic racism continue to be confronted by the American populace. We’ve already heard our share of stellar ones that get to the heart of why the Black community is upset and fed up with the so-called land of the free only being truly free for some. Now H.E.R., already considered by some to be the singer-songwriter of her generation, adds in her thoughts with her new track “I Can’t Breathe.”
The singer uses the phrase “I can’t breathe” — which has been the last words of Eric Garner, George Floyd and, sadly, so many others — to illustrate the frustrations that are currently spurring the protests and demand for urgent change to a flawed system. She brings her sentiments home by putting us in the shoes of a someone grieving their loved one, singing, “Praying for change ’cause the pain makes you tender / All of the names you refuse to remember / Was somebody’s brother, friend / Or a son to a mother that’s crying, saying / ‘I can’t breathe, you’re taking my life from me.'” And as the song’s simple guitar and haunting vocal arrangement continue, she offers fiery spoken word about America’s history that has led to this point. She also voices a thought that many have had, saying, “Be thankful we are God-fearing / Because we do not seek revenge / We seek justice.”
This hasn’t been H.E.R.’s first foray into making a political statement. She recently released a video for her track “I’m Not OK,” which featured comedian Affion Crockett and spoke to the effect of police brutality not only on our physical well-being but how it also hurts our communities and mental well-being as well.
We have a long way to go before true change comes, so we’re glad that our artists are stepping up to provide us with a soundtrack to keep up the good fight.