Protest Song of the Day: ‘The New Black’ by The Mavrix
To recognize the power of protest music, acknowledge its role in creating a culture of dissent and how musicians translate social issues and systemic problems into song, The Dissenter has launched a daily feature that highlights a protest song every weekday.
Israel is bombing Palestinians in Gaza. It is launching a military operation and citing three rockets it says were fired by Hamas militants as justification for escalating and continuing the offensive. So, it seems only appropriate that today’s song be one for the Palestinians.
The song is called “The New Black.” It is by The Mavrix, a South African band, and Mohammed Omar, a Palestinian Oud player. It is a musical collaboration that was put together in response to the Gaza massacre that occurred about four years ago. It is inspired by the book, Mornings in Jenin, which was written by Susan Abulhawa.
According to the producers of the song, which include the Palestinian Solidarity Alliance (South Africa) and the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI, it is an expression of solidarity from South Africans, who overcame apartheid, to a Palestinian people that currently suffer under oppression from Israeli apartheid.
The music video opens with the iconic image of Hector Pieterson, who was gunned down in the Soweto uprising in 1976 in South Africa. And the following chorus opens the song:
Did I hear you speak? Did you hear the children plead?
In the deathly cold of night, with no warmth nor food in sight
Did I heard it said won’t you please end the blockade?
Free up the food and free up the aid, oh please end the blockade.
It calls out Obama later in the song, “When white phosphorous weapons incinerated heaven, and left a nation to bleed/Where was Obama, when the devil came to Gaza?” And, before concluding with the chorus, the lyric that contains the title of the song is uttered: “I’ll survive another attack cause you ain’t cuttin’ me no slack/There ain’t no goin’ back, my freedom is on track/Because Palestinian is the new black.”
If you have requests for songs that should be featured or if you have a protest song you recorded, which you would like to see featured, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
And all previous Protest Song of the Day selections can be found here.