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Anti Racism Songs

Updated on October 6, 2013

My Favorite Songs About Racism

I write to do my part to end racism. I may only impact one or two hearts at a time, but that's okay because I am making a difference.

Here I chose to share songs about racism. Perhaps you will discover something that makes a difference in your life. Please enjoy and don't forget to leave your feedback in the guestbook and let me know how you feel about racism and the impact of the music featured here.

Strange Fruit - Billie Holiday

Released in 1939 by Billie Holiday, Strange Fruit condemned racism particularly the lynching of blacks, predominantly in the South.

The song was originally a poem, written by a high school teacher from the Bronx, Abel Meeropol who later produced the musical version.

Billie Holiday first recorded the song, however it has been recorded by a variety of artists over the years, inspired a short film, a novel, an episode on the popular TV series, Cold Case. Time Magazine called it the "song of the century" in 1999 and in 2010 the New Statesmen dubbed it one of the top 20 Political Songs.

Holiday's sweet, sultry voice was the perfect choice to put the stirring poem to music, please take a moment and listen to it.

Everyday People - Sly and the Family Stone

"he is no better / and neither are you / we are the same / whatever we do."

As I am a child of the 60's and 70's, I grew up listening to Sly Stone. Later on I realized that his music, particularly this song, defined how I feel about race and other social issues.

What I also didn't realize until much later is the Family Stone was the first racially integrated rock band and much of what motivated the songs Sly Stone wrote was his desire for equality among people.

Please take a minute and listen, it will stick with you for a while, I promise.......

Sly and the Family Stone, Limited Edition Poster

Sly & The Family Stone - Greatest Hits

Greatest Hits
Greatest Hits

This CD always takes me back to a less complicated time.


Society's Child - Janis Ian

Written and sung by Janis Ian at the age of 13, this long time favorite of mine illustrates the difficulties of an interracial relationship particularly during the 1960s. Ironically, this song had to be released three times before it was even noticed due to it's content.

Little did I know when first hearing this gem in the 1960s how much my future would have in common with this tale as far as the acceptance of an interracial relationship. Funny how life happens like that.

Black or White - Michael Jackson

Say whatever you want to about him, I don't care. He's Michael and the best now and forever. This song and video is perhaps one of my favorite MJ creations. Written and composed by MJ it was released in 1991 and hit #1 on the charts.

I particularly like the scene where the group of kids including Macaulay Culkin are performing a rap and say: "I'm not gonna spend my life being a color."

That said though, the best part of the lyrics?

"I am tired of this devil

I am tired of this stuff

I am tired of this business

Girl when the going gets rough

I ain't scared of your brother

I ain't scared of no sheets

I ain't scared of nobody

Girl when the going gets mean"

Michael Jackson

I Believe - Blessid Union Of Souls

While the true meaning of this beautiful, beautiful song is about the strength of love conquering all that is wrong in the world, there is another story addressed within the song. It's yet another story of interracial love and this time it's written about a lost love that Eliot Sloan, who wrote this song experienced when dating a girl named Lisa. Her father threatened her by not paying for college if she continued to see Sloan. They went their separate ways but he never forgot her.

If you've never heard this song before, you should take a moment and experience it. And remember, love is the answer....

Un-Thinkable - Alicia Keys

Another song addressing an interracial relationship that strikes a familiar chord within my life experiences. The song and video illustrates an interracial relationship in the 1950s as well as a current day one and conveys just exactly how far we haven't come in interracial tolerance.

While just listening to the song, there isn't much in there that makes me think racism or interracial relationships, but coupled with the video, a powerful message is delivered. Plus it's performed by Alicia Keys and that's always a treat.

See for yourself if you haven't already enjoyed Un-Thinkable.

One Love - Playing For Change

This ultra classic Bob Marley favorite is recorded all over the world by Playing For Change, a movement for inspiring peace among all people through music.

One Love is performed here on this video by various artists in various languages on a plethora of different instruments throughout the world. Imagine taking a tour around the world in just a few minutes while enjoying this all time favorite song.

What better way to celebrate diversity and world peace?

One Love isn't the only song you will hear when you visit the website for Playing For Change. There is an amazing array of "episodes" that can't help but make you feel there is hope after all. I encourage you to pay Playing for Change a visit today.

Does Your Mama Know About Me? - Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers

Co-written and released in1968 by Tommy Chong (of Cheech & Chong fame) and Tom Baird and performed by Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers this song tell the story about an interracial relationship.

"Does your mama know about me?

Does she know just what I am?

Will she turn her back on me

Or accept me as a man?

Hail, Hail Rock n' Roll - Garland Jeffreys

I discovered the album "Don't Call Me Buckwheat" by Garland Jeffreys and struggled with which cut to choose for this lens. The whole album addresses race and it's issues in Jeffreys completely original and unique style. "Hail, Hail" won out to showcase here because the video is just so darned good, but other choice cuts include Don't Call Me Buckwheat, I Was Afraid Of Malcolm, and Racial Repertoire.

Here's a taste of the lyrics from Hail, Hail Rock n' Roll:

"Pockets of hate, rockets of love

It's never too late, the change in the color of

The color of her, the color of him

It really doesn't matter what skin you're in

Big yellow taxicab passed me by

Stopped on the next corner to pick up a white guy

The color of you, the color of me

You can't judge a man by looking at the marque"

The video is edgy, honest and highly original. You should check it out.

Colored People - dc Talk

If you've never heard of them, dc Talk is a Christian rock band and the song Colored People is from their first album, Jesus Freak.

Colored People addresses racial diversity and how we are all related and descended from the same Father.

I chose this particular video because of the excellent illustration of how closely we are all related. I hope you enjoy it.

"We're colored people, and we live in a tainted place

We're colored people, and they call us the human race

We've got a history so full of mistakes

And we are colored people who depend on a Holy Grace"

Why Can't We Be Friends? - War

It's not a heavy message sending song, more like one of those songs that gets in your head and sticks around for a while, but I thought I would add it to the collection anyway.

Favorite part for me:

The color of your skin don't matter to me

As long as we can live in harmony."

Just enjoy it okay?

Feedback Please!

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    • gypsyman27 lm profile image

      gypsyman27 lm 5 years ago

      Very good work Shirl. I am always impressed with your grasp of the racial situation here in America today. See you around the galaxy...