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A Musical Attempt To Heal


c/o Christopher Polk/BET/Getty Images for BET

Results were called in at 4 AM our time. Italy time. To be away, studying abroad during such an important election suddenly felt strange, unreal. We couldn’t stand to stay up. I think a part of us feared the worst. The next morning, at 7 AM, my suitemate burst into my room, climbed into my bed, and Google-searched the results with equalled enthusiasm and anxiety. The screen showed us that Trump had won. Rubbing my eyes, I sat up and screamed. I couldn’t believe it. My suitemate immediately started crying. We weren’t shocked; we were traumatized. Devastated. We held each other. I texted my Mom. I scrolled through Facebook posts aimlessly. I couldn’t believe it. What the fuck. I sat on my couch till 10, watching CNN coverage, coming in and out of moments of pain and confusion. I brushed my teeth, and came back to watch Trump’s acceptance speech. I watched Barron Trump stand awkwardly as his father announced a victory no one expected. I mourned. I grieved as if I had lost a close friend. And I hurt. For myself, for everyone important to me, and for every marginalized individual.

I have so many things to say but feel too numb to wholly process everything. In the meantime, let’s drown the noise in music. Below are eleven songs that bring me solace in moments of sheer chaos. I hope they do the same for you. Let’s breathe, deeply, and be angry together.

1. “All We Got,” Chance the Rapper

Music, like love, is all we got right now. Each other is all we got right now. And so, the only way to start a playlist based on losing it all, is to remember that when we have nothing else, we have music.

2. “Godspeed,” Frank Ocean

We are embarking on a long, probably exhausting, and definitely difficult journey. We all need some well-wishing right now. Let Frank bestow this good energy upon you, you need it. Take his advice: “This love will keep us through blinding of the eyes / Silence in the ears, darkness of the mind.” This love, the love we show each other right now, is all we have to pull us out of the darkness. Tolerance, acceptance, and healing is all we can give each other.

3. “Grown Woman,” Xavier Omar

My love for Xavier Omar is unwavering, and this song helps me heal as a woman. I am a “grown woman” and being proud of this is one of the ways I protest everything happening right now. Own the parts of you that others crave to silence.

4. “Be Alright,” Kehlani

We are all gonna be alright, in the words and eyes of Kehlani. It’s something we all need to hear, when everything feels off in so many ways…when in so many moments, it feels like in the next four years nothing will be alright.

5. “Riot,” Bibi Bourelly

Now that you know you are going to make it, it’s time to fight peacefully. It’s fitting that Bibi’s first lyric in “Riot” is, “I’mma fight ‘til the day I die.” This is the good fight friends, and I appreciate every one of you chanting in the streets, protecting the liberties of all of us. Be safe out there, be angry and vocal, but be calm in your actions – it’s how we’ll move forward.

6. “Stuck in the Mud,” Isaiah Rashad

Even though we’re out there chanting, it really feels like we’re stuck in the mud. While this song is about drugs, Isaiah alludes to the various struggles that have him caught in a vicious cycle. This loss (that others are calling a victory) feels like that. We can get out of this mud, but only together. If we all help each other, the stickiness feels conquerable. It is. We will get out of this.

7. “Molasses,” Hiatus Kaiyote

“Molasses” is a song that allows us to feel what feels real right now, that this “might not get any better.” I believe it will, but it’s okay if you don’t feel that way right now. Hiatus Kaiyote’s voice is similar to that of a strong angel. He deserves a listen.

8. “Freedom (Interlude),” Noname

“What’s free to you?” Peter Rodis once asked of Nina Simone. Nina answered: “Just a feeling… It’s just a feeling. It’s like how do you tell somebody how it feels to be in love? How are you going to tell anybody who has not been in love how it feels to be in love? You cannot do it to save your life. You can describe things, but you can’t tell them. But you know it, when it happens. That’s what I mean by ‘free’. I had a couple times on stage when I really felt free, and that’s something else. That’s really something else! I’ll tell you what freedom is to me: No fear!” On “Freedom,” Noname speaks of confusion and perception. Of redemption. Of overcoming. Of being free.

9. “Poetic Justice,” Kendrick Lamar

“And you’re in the mood for empathy, there’s blood in my pen.” This is the time to remember that love is not just a verb, but a steering power.

10. “Just Sayin/I Tried,” The Internet

Just like Syd the Kid tried to love this girl, we tried to love America, this country who has already betrayed so many of us, we tried, and then America failed us. We’re mad, America, but in a time so polarized we have to hold out hope. “Maybe one day / We’ll find common ground.” We have to work towards finding a place where love trumps hate. Until then, it’s okay to be angry and sad, and feel like you’ve been failed. In so many ways, you have.

11. “Verbatim,” Blackbear

Blackbear reminds us to be active in what we say. To say how we’re feeling, to not be silenced even when it feels like the oppressor has won. To say what’s occupying our thoughts, unfiltered. “Verbatim.” While it feels like we just elected the pinnacle of fraud, “when everybody’s fake as fuck” we have to take Blackbear’s advice. Mobilize yourself, make art, write about it, yell it in the streets! You still have the power! Don’t be silenced – FEEL – and don’t be afraid to say it.

Every single person I care about has been affected by this presidential election. Some even more affected than me. The sound of my voice feels like a shout into the cosmic void, forever bound to float the vast abysses of space and time. I feel small, powerless. Ashamed to say I am American. But if I believe that my voice doesn’t deserve a space right now, hate has won. And that’s something I will not tolerate in my own life. I refuse. I hope you refuse to as well.

Somebody did win the presidency, but he did not win the right to take away our voices. I will not let someone else undo what we have worked towards since the 1950s Civil Rights Movement. And neither should you. Do not normalize hate. Fight this. Fight for yourself. Fight for the space you deserve, the space this world doesn’t want you to have. I am woman, I am Indian, and I am proud. I fight for myself. I fight for you. And if we fight together, if we join hands (as people literally did in Oakland), we can preserve our rights together.

It’s our responsibility to do what we can right now. Volunteer to work at Planned Parenthood, donate to the ACLU, canvas for the HRC – these are some of the people fighting for our rights in the trenches, and we need to support them in whatever way we can. I know you are scared. I know you are tired. I know this win, which feels so backwards, has exhausted you. But it’s time to push through. Be more yourself than ever. Be vocal. Be angry. Be yourself.

Even if Trump doesn’t actually do much and enact many policies in the next 4 years (he will enact some, but even if he doesn’t), we still elected someone who has unarguably made sexist, racist, homophobic, ableist, and xenophobic comments. That means, there are a lot of people who said, you – if you are a part of a marginalized group that Trump attacked – do not matter. I am here to tell you that you matter. That the parts of you that others want to ignore and shrink, the parts of you that people want to legislate on, your freedom, it matters. It matters to me. It matters to us. That’s what counts. Your voice, your activism, you mobilizing yourself is what we need right now. We can fight this. It won’t be easy. It doesn’t mean Trump won’t be in office. But Trump’s presidency, like most other things in life, is temporary. We can get through this. We will get through this.

November 28, 2016

About Author

Siya Bahal Siya Bahal is a writer, hustler, and full-time consumer of tea. You can find her finessing and doing other things on the internet at https://twitter.com/siyalaterrr

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