The Music of Lament

Okay fam,

It’s clear a lot has happened in this last week but one of the hardest things to deal with is this new president.

Honestly, it’s absolutely shameful that this platform of hateful rhetoric has won and yet  I feel as though he truly reflects the heart of America. And that hurts.

why this hurts

It hurts as a minority woman to know that so many people in the country of my birth don’t value me. It hurts to know that Muslim people are believed to be hateful and mean. It hurts to know that many believe that Mexican people are ‘rapists and murders’ despite this being a blatant lie. It hurts to know that those in the LGBTQIA+ community are seen as less than and deserving of receiving less than their equal rights as human beings. It hurts to know that many of my white brothers in christ feel it is okay to support a man who has bragged about sexually assaulting women because he is a member of the party that supposedly espouses Christian values. By supporting this hatred and these lies, they have told me that my life as a black woman doesn’t matter, men should be entitled to my body, and the injustices I experience everyday doesn’t mean anything.

lament: a forgotten art

With all this hurt, it’s easy to ignore it and keep moving. Emotions can be repressed and life can seemingly go on. Yet, I can speak from experience when I say that this is not true at all. Even when we think we’re managing our emotions and responses well, something usually happens to let us know that we are not okay.

It is for this reason that we need to lament. Lamenting is an art that is lost in our modern and western world. Historically, when a loss happened, people had practices and customs that they would follow in order to mark the occasion. We don’t do this anymore and I personally feel it is to our detriment. It doesn’t make us weak and powerless to announce that we are hurting. Tears aren’t a sign of weakness but of truth. It is okay to pause and acknowledge hurt, pain and sorrow.

music of lament 

As music has a unique ability to engage with our hearts and our emotions, it makes sense that it is able to encourage us to lament. Laments are often poems that express grief and loss; so it’s natural that this is extended to music. I can’t say that I’ve heard many laments within music – much less popular music – but recently, it seems that there has been a resurgence in songs that embody lament and provide spaces for people to grieve.

Many artists that are doing things well are in fact African-American. I believe this comes from the fact that our people have a history of using song to express our struggles and pain. So much of our music and our culture have been birthed out of pain, struggle and hardship. Hip hop is meant to be a place where people can voice their displeasure with systemic inequality; jazz was a freedom of music, no longer being bound to strictly playing what was on the paper; the blues was a mournful style that was gritty and cool, laying the foundations for modern rock music. All of these important genres have these roots so it makes sense that we use them as spaces to voice our pains and struggles.

why this matters 

We need to lament. We have to. We can’t continue as a nation and as a people if we don’t stop and pause and lament for the injustices that have been validated and burst forth from this political decision. There are people who fear for their lives, their livelihoods and their families. These fears are legitimate and valid and must be treated as such. Music is so critical for this process as it both connects with our inner spirits and unites us together. My hope is that we begin to see more art that creates and protects this space for grief.

Until Next Time,

Peace & Harmonies

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