I Just Can't Keep Quiet

 I’m not sure when it was that talk radio replaced music as the soundtrack to my life. Somewhere along the line, I switched the channel from rollicking rock and roll to news of latest climate catastrophe, Congressional shenanigans, and nasty presidential tweets. But now, with the world in shambles, I am ready to go back to music. If only I knew what to listen to.

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What I really want to hear are today’s protest songs. But I have no idea where to start. When I look on Spotify for protest songs, I find several playlists, but are filled with songs of another dismal period in our American history—Bob Dylan, Nina Simone, Eric Burden and the Animals. There are a few newer ones, like the raps of Flobots or heavy metal screeching of Rise Again, but none of those good old anthems we all knew by heart and sang around campfires wherever we were in the world. They were a common language. Songs you could strum a guitar to.

There is one song that comes to mind, though, a song that stirs my heart and makes me cry every time I hear it. It is the song that emerged from the Women’s March, when it’s originator MILCK formed an online acapella group from California and Washington DC. She sent the lyrics and harmonies to each group to practice at home. On the big day, that unseasonably warm January day in D.C., the group sang it seven times as they moved through the crowd of half a million.

            A tweet by one of the members, retweeted by Harry Potter actor Emma Watson, reached over 68,000 people in a single day. The Facebook post of the march rendition has been viewed 11 million times.

            This new women’s anthem is now sung by women and girls all over the world. A choir in Ghana adds defiance and even joy to their stirring rendition.

Thirteen hundred people, mostly women, gathered in Toronto to sing with MILCK and the results are powerful.

 A flash mob of hundreds of pussy-hatted women sang in the Stockholm train station.

I get weepy when I see the joyful faces of these women belting out a song that finally speaks for so many of us. I can’t help but think of Anita Hill and Christine Blasey Ford. I can’t help but think Malala, and of all the women and girls denied their freedom in Afghanistan. This song speaks for all of us who have been abused, who have been denied, who have been told to just shut up. I can’t help but think of #MeToo .

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put on your face
know your place
shut up and smile
don't spread your legs
I could do that

But no one knows me no one ever will
if I don't say something, if I just lie still
Would I be that monster, scare them all away
If I let the-em hear what I have to say

I can't keep quiet, no oh oh oh oh oh oh
I can't keep quiet, no oh oh oh oh oh oh
A one-woman riot, oh oh oh oh oh oh oh

I can't keep quiet
For anyone
Anymore

Cuz no one knows me no one ever will
if I don't say something, take that dry blue pill
they may see that monster, they may run away
But I have to do this, do it anyway
I can't keep quiet, no oh oh oh oh oh oh
I can't keep quiet, no oh oh oh oh oh oh
A one-woman riot, oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh I can't keep quiet

Let it out Let it out
Let it out now
There'll be someone who understands
Let it out Let it out
Let it out now
Must be someone who'll understand
Let it out Let it out
Let it out now
There'll be someone who understands
Let it out Let it out
Let it out now

I can't keep quiet

/// • /// • ///

A couple of weeks ago I read a disturbing article in the New York Times about the manifesto penned by the shooter in New Zealand. He argued for the “Replacement Theory,” which claims the white race is dying out because white women aren’t having enough babies to replenish the numbers. This unbelievable theory is spreading through far-right circles and has even been mentioned on Fox News, an arguably main stream media outlet. The solution? Take away women’s right to work and vote. I read those words and realized it is already happening.

            On NPR, I heard about a new law in Georgia that would give a fetus full rights as a human being after five and half weeks in the womb. From that time, any pregnant woman becomes a state incubator, her rights superseded by the rights of the fetus. Miscarriages, an event that happens to a majority of women sometime in their reproductive years even before a woman knows she’s pregnant, would trigger an investigation into the woman’s activities. Did she have a drink? Smoke a cigarette? Have an addiction problem? She would be liable for the death of a child. How can we keep quiet? 

            We women will go on singing until we are finally heard. “I Can’t Keep Quiet” provides a new soundtrack to my life. Maybe I will tell Alexa to wake me with it each morning as I face another day as a woman in an increasingly hostile world.  

P.S. Here’s another great song, Lynzy Lab’s “It’s Scary Time”