The following was republished from Ongoing History of Protest Songs.
“We’re here protesting and sharing stories, but when everything else is so loud, how do you penetrate
The above statement was made by Camae Ayewa, a Philadelphia based activist, poet, and
experimental musician, better known as Moor Mother.
On her recently released album “Analog Fluids of Sonic Black Holes,” Ayewa does her best to penetrate through the echo chamber. The album effectively employs sound collages and archival recordings to add weight to powerful statements of protest.
Many of the album’s tracks highlight past racial injustices to draw parallels with the current political climate. One notable example is the song, “LA92,” which refers to two different incidents that contributed to the 1992 Los Angeles riots.
The lyrics open with “Latasha got shot over orange juice,” a reference to Latasha Harlins, a 15-year-old
black girl who was shot by a convenience store owner on March 16, 1991. The store owner claimed that
Harlins was trying to steal a bottle of orange juice, even though video footage and eyewitnesses indicated
that Harlins intended to pay.
Although found guilty of voluntary manslaughter, the store owner didn’t face any prison time, which angered many in the black community.
The other incident referenced is the March 3, 1991, assault on Rodney King at the hands of the Los
Angeles Police Department. On April 29, 1992, the four police officers were acquitted for the brutal
beating. That same month the state appeals court upheld the sentencing decision against the owner who murdered Harlins.
The lyrics make mention of “nightmare shit” and “LAPD on PCP, body bag, body bag, for you and me.”
Unfortunately, these incidents continue to be part of the current reality for Black America. Artists like Moor Mother seek to challenge the normalization of racial oppression and awaken the country to the nightmares routinely experienced.