Yes, Sunday Jammers. Welcome back, hope you are well and holding it together. It’s been a testing time hasn’t it? I salute you and acknowledge you, well done for sticking it out, not putting your fingers in your ears and ignoring the din.
Today’s Sunday Jam is a little different and longer, but I hope you’ll stay locked in with all your emotions turned on. The events in Israel have been punishing, for those directly affected, for all those Palestinians living outside whose thoughts are with their loved ones in harm's way, and to the rest of world watching in horror as the Israeli regime continues to brutalise and oppress the people of Palestine by committing atrocity after atrocity while invoking a protectionist defence. It just seems wrong not to engage, comment and add my voice to the conversation; I offer you some commentary, three pieces of music, a poem and some links rather than my usual solo jam.
Music is one of the greatest catalysts, connectors and conduits to so many places, spaces and people giving voice to their experiences in so many layered forms. As I watched events unfold in continued, suspended horror I turned to music to help me make sense of it and find a way through. I found my way to three pieces of music that helped me to make sense of all the many, many competing emotions.
My catalyst track is a classic. I turn to it, as I have on so many occasions, for solace. Now Rage Against the Machine’s ‘Killing in the Name Of’ might seem obvious in many ways but it’s always like a cleanser for me — the ultimate musical palette cleanser,
literally purifying the toxic air around me and giving me space to dance and shout the bullshit out, a fully immersive physical experience to move the toxins out and make way for the connector track and a way to the root, overriding emotion. It will probably come as no surprise that this was anger. In the wake of the brutal acts of violence committed by the Israeli state, how could it not be. However, what followed was even more insulting and infuriating in the mostly skewed reporting of the events, the so-called ‘common sense politics’ and ‘wilful ignorance’ by agencies and individuals who should know better. Enough with the use of phrases like ‘it’s a complex situation’, enough with dismissing the legitimate outpouring of emotion — can’t we talk about this without getting angry? It all reinforces how people who suffer oppression have to continually fight on so many fronts; first the right just to exist as human beings, then to be seen, heard and recount their own narratives. Complete consternation and fury.
So, the connector track that lead me through the mini maze was by Palestinian hip-hop outfit Dam, the track is ‘Jasadik-Hom’. These guys just do it so well and it reminds me about the importance of hearing and engaging with the voices of those directly affected, told in their language, giving us their glasses to see through — no matter how painful, saddening, uncomfortable or confronting those truths might be. For me it really is that simple. These guys smash it hard, musically, politically and creatively, like many hip-hop creators outside the United States they take the form and make it their own. Dam (which means “everlasting”) does make music to last, covering subjects from the Israeli occupation, to social injustice and the human condition and in this case the perfect connector. Yes, it’s in Arabic but lyrics are online and I’m sure a decent translator is only a click away. Last track was my conduit track, the place where contemplation starts to take shape and leads me to where I can think about taking action. But where do you even start to make a dent? I suggest you contribute to something, use whatever platform you have to make yourself heard.
Next up is the immense and gigantic sound of Sons of Kemet with ‘Field Negus’. These guys are just a powerhouse of talent, energy and depth. This track is taken from their latest album Black to the Future and I cannot recommend it enough. It is the exact rebel yell I need to remind me that confronting oppression might be a lifelong task but it’s one that has come a long way. The subject matter shows that simply calling out injustice and giving it a name, being able to make music about it on an open stage without coded language hushed in corners and without the possibility of reprisal means things have come a long way, still some ways to go but, it's possible.
Do not let your anger be dismissed or diminished, if it makes somebody uncomfortable make room for them to find the exit, wish them peace and let them know they are welcome to return once they set themselves free from the bristles. It’s time to squash the narrative that the oppressed should bear their suffering quietly, to wear their scars under their elegant sleeves, that is what a quieting of anger means, a shushing of your emotions, a dismissive shrug and feet coming together to beat the streets. Your anger is legitimate, your anger means you’re awake, your anger will not cause earthquakes or usher in wars. Ruling regimes that support suppression, reinforce oppression and normalise repression in a bid to maintain control of lands, wealth, ideas and legacy are the warmongers and racketeers. Your anger at the normalisation of foul play just means you are alive so use it, move through it. I hope that the tracks I offer you this week will help you mobilise it, turn it into armour and help you to resist.
Last item on the list, a poem by the brilliant, sharp, outspoken and crush of mine, the essayist, journalist and poet Noor Hindi with ‘Fuck Your Lecture On My Craft, My People Are Dying’. So, take your pick whichever moves you or have them all, entirely up to you. Whichever one it is, turn it up loud. Thank you, Sunday Jammer. See you next week.
This is a compiled list of resources around Palestine and what’s happening on the ground: (Big Shout out to Sarah from my Deep Cuts Writing Group for links and all the Deep Cuts Family)