Black Lives Matter: How Many More Strange Fruits

From the beginning of time, Black artists have diverted the heaviness of their deliberate persecution, both straightforwardly and indirectly, into types of articulation that have everlastingly molded the Western world. We are as of now looking in to present social movements, for example, Black Lives Matter (BLM), however, these focal thoughts are not new on the grounds that they can be followed back to Jim Crow Laws. The pressures between America’s law enforcement and people of colors speak to the most recent emphasis of a multi-century battle for equity. At each progression of the battle, there has been a soundtrack—to reinforce, to alleviate, to illuminate for the individuals who don’t get it. Black Lives matter can be found all throughout musical history, for example, Billie Holidays’ hit song, ‘Strange Fruit’ and the present uprising artist Miguel and his song ‘How Many’. Despite the fact that the two artists are from various periods, their verses convey attention to the injustices and prejudice that people of color face in America.

One of Billie Holiday’s most famous songs is ‘Strange Fruit,’ an eerie dissent against the cruelty of lynching and prejudice. The song was originally a protest poem written by Abel Meerpol during the 1930s. Meerpol was a white, Jewish secondary teacher from the Bronx and a supporter of the Communist Party. He wrote the poem to uncover American racism, especially the lynchings of African Americans taking place in that era. The language Meerpol’s chose to portray was super simple and direct. Billie Holiday did a great job in following Meerpol ’s sharp and ruthless rhyme scheme. The author likewise demonstrates an inclination for solid, stacked words like “rot” and “suck.” However, Meerpol sometimes progressively goes in a more delicate direction using phrases such as “Southern breeze”; and “Scent of Magnolia” and later destroys all quaint, and delicate language by pulling the reader back in with harsh and gory language such as “Black body swinging in the Southern breeze”; and “The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth”. The distinctive difference among sentimental and gore-sih language just adds to the work’s general effect.

The goal of the song was a method for moving the deplorability of lynching out of the dark press and putting it out in the white community so they could be aware of the horrors happening to people of color at that time. Billie Holiday’s ‘Strange Fruit’ fulfilled its capacity to give a bleak yet viable analogy for the lynchings occurring with the assistance of some strong and dark symbolism contrasting the lynched individuals with dying fruits on a vine and being discarded as if they were meaningless and unuseful to society.

Unlike Billie Holiday, current R&B singer Miguel shared a song on SoundCloud named “How Many” that did not gain infamous fame, unlike his other songs that are overly sexualized and full of romanticized language. He composed the song in the repercussions of the police shootings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and Philando Castile outside the Twin Cities, Minnesota. In his song, he ponders “how many” more people of color need to die at the hands of law enforcement before a foundation of change can occur. The verses in Miguel’s new song make an incredible hymn committed to the BLM movement.

Miguel’s song is very blunt and he loses no time in showing his audience the obvious topic he is touching on. “I’m tired of human lives turned into hashtags and prayer hands – I’m tired of watching murderers get off,” Miguel sings. “Brothers and sisters, it’s time to wake up /Brothers and sisters, it’s time to say something, do something – How many black lives, how many black lives? – How many heartbeats turned into flatlines.”

‘How Many’ is loaded with mixed emotions of sadness and outrage, however, Miguel’s song of praise is a serious one. He calls not for more viciousness, but instead a new change where people can speak out for people of color and communities who face injustices and oppression. ‘How Many,’ asks a straightforward, yet an incredible inquiry and the appropriate response Miguel gives is that enough people of color have been killed. The main thing left to do currently is for society to add their voice to the numerous different voices requiring a change.

Both artists play a role in bringing awareness to black bodies and the movement of BLM. Through both song’s lyrics and verses, they show the injustice and racism that people of color face. Both songs influence a bigger impact and social movements and protests. Billie Holiday is blunt and direct through her lyrics, as much as Miguel loses no momentum to be straightforward with his audience. Both songs bring awareness which pushes audiences to want to create a change for those who face racism and oppression. The notable differences for both songs would have to be the different time periods they were produced and the different social problems going on in those different time periods. Another notable difference is the style and genre of the songs, Holiday does a more blues and jazzy feel while Miguel sticks to a type of R&B rap style.

Many still don’t realize it, but Strange fruit is what is happening today. Lynching may not exist, but the strange fruit is no longer in trees, and instead, they are dropping in front of convenience stores, playgrounds, streets, and right in front of their own homes. And instead of keeping quiet about the strange fruit, they are brought to the light with current technology, but still little to nothing is being done. Billie Holiday and Miguel are telling people that we can’t sit back and stay quiet any longer. How many black bodies will it take for people to realize that this is still an ongoing issue? Both the verses in these songs show the need to stand against injustice to an already mistreated and oppressed race. We must come together as one to create change.

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