By Miles Fawcett
(AllHipHop News) In the midst of the whirlwind of emotions, conversations, and protests happening in America and across the globe, the poignant spoken word of Newark Mayor Ras Baraka is especially relevant.
Baraka recently released the music video for his spoken word “What We Want,” one the five tracks on his 2019 EP of the same name. The video features interpretive dancers with painted black and white faces and a backup bongo drum.
The message behind “What We Want” draws inspiration from 1960’s civil rights groups including the Nation of Islam and the Black Panther Party. Baraka uses their slogans as a blueprint to his spoken word and music video.
Baraka speaks on the desires and struggles people of color throughout the spoken word performance. The piece is aptly named – Baraka is listing what he and other people of color would demand from those in power if given the chance.
One of the most powerful lines of “What We Want” is a commentary on the state of cultural appropriation in America “We just want everything we created and everything that was created as a result of what we created, and we want it with interest.”
Baraka also calls for reparations with a call for “the callouses our hands and the pain in our lower back” to be “added to our savings.”
Baraka’s message doesn’t stop at America’s borders either. The Mayor calls for “every corner of every country” to be developed, alluding to the scars of colonialism that still have not healed overseas.
Continuing the theme of financial reparations for people of color across the globe, saying “we need all the money in all the banks in every part of the world to be used for our collective benefit.”
Several faces are shown with words such as “truth,” “reparations,” “free housing,” and “equal pay.” Baraka cries out for the improvement of the lives of all of the disenfranchised in America, not just people of color.
Ultimately, Mayor Baraka just wants freedom. Freedom for his people and freedom for a country that projects freedom for its citizens but has failed to deliver. “We need more than justice in the moment – we need an overhaul of our systems. This is our opportunity as a people and world citizens to address the root of the larger issues that affect all our communities and the injustices that we deal with.”
“What We Want” has the potential to become the soundtrack to this era’s fight for social justice. The Mayor has written a manifesto for the racism that plagues our society with a blueprint for how to address our social ills. It is an elegiac cry for action that is both heartbreaking and inspirational.