Black joy is an art form and at the core of that art form, is our ability to turn suffering into resistance, into revolution.
In her journal article, One Hundred Years of Black Protest, Researcher and Musicologist of African American and Afro-Caribbean music, Dr. Edna Edet writes:
“Deprived of the right to protest with impunity, the American black man sublimated his anger in song and story. Every confrontation with adversity was accompanied by songs reflecting and depicting his struggle. Words of protest have infiltrated and permeated his music just as the inimical conditions in which he has been compelled to live have constricted his life and threatened his existence.”
Think Nina Simone, think James Brown, think Sam Cooke, think The Last Poets, all contributors to the soundtrack of revolution during the Black Power movement, all artists who cut into Black struggle and from it, pulled Black love, Black pride, and the likes to inspire resilience during times of overwhelming sorrow.
Enter 2020, the year of chaos and the year of TikTok. Enter the largest Civil Rights movement in history and the spark of mass protest due to police violence and systemic racism.
What does music bring to us this year?
Among some gems like Jeremy Frisch’s “Suck my D*ck and Choke on It.” I Yield My Time” stands out Johnniqua Charles’s “Lose Yo Job.”
No longer do we turn to gospel standards and spirituals for songs of revolution and although never forgotten will the jazzy, soulful tunes of the 1960s be. This summer’s anthem isn’t Meg’s “Hot Girl Summer,” it’s Johniqua’s bop, “Lose Yo Job” remixed by DJ Suede and DJ iMarkkeyz.
Protestors around the country have taken the streets to demand, not only justice for George Floyd and all the other Black lives we’ve lost to police brutality, but for the complete restructuring of the American criminal justice system. With these demands, protestors have brought along “Lose Yo Job.”
Across the country, Black people can be seen in videos chanting and dancing, mixing pain anger and frustration with joy and defiance in Black Lives Matter protests.
Comments on Twitter have seen “Lose yo job” go viral, showing support and enthusiasm for the song of the revolution that has become essential in this movement, showing Black folk’s ability to carry a movement that holds space for a range of emotions.
So what does this mean for the movement at large?
Personally, I believe it means resilience. I believe that in times of reactionary activism and trends that fade just as quickly as they come into being, now more than ever is when we need instances like these to carry the momentum so many are pushing for.
We have to be able to mourn our oppression, but we also have to be able to find the small pockets of joy that remind us what we are fighting for.
As we navigate both a pandemic and senseless killings at the hands of those who are meant to serve and protect us, a song like “Lose Yo Job” is the unapologetic spirit of Black folk everywhere.
It is a reflection of changing times, where the phrase “you about to lose your job because you are detaining me for no reason” is the perfect line to encompass our anger, our hopes, and our resilience.