Profiles of notable people of color + their creations.
June 1st marked the debut of Elijah Blake’s new song, “Hanging Tree.” The track focuses on bringing to light a significant aspect of Black history: lynchings. With lyrics like, “Who’s the man I see underneath the hanging tree? He looks just like me, so tell me, am I really free?” the song calls attention to the racism, inequality, and oppression Black Americans have suffered, that was so prevalent decades ago and still continues to exist today. Produced by Harry Belafonte’s Sankofa Organization, the song is part of a larger initiative that focuses on raising awareness of social justice issues.
The music video portrays Blake shedding his tuxedo to reveal whipping wounds underneath. Blake’s goal for viewers and listeners is that they are able to better understand some of the causes of marginalization, especially in the aftermath of police brutality.
“I wrote ‘Hanging Tree’ as a way to use my voice for equal rights, especially black rights, in the aftermath of tragedies like Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, Freddie Gray, Tamir Rice, and so many others whose voices have been silenced...the Sankofa organization and I have combined efforts to spread this important message of equality,” Blake stated in an interview with The FADER.
Watch the video here.
valerie wu is a student at presentation high school in san jose, california. she is an asian-american activist who thrives at the intersection of ethnicity, migration, & human rights. her work has previously been recognized nationally by the scholastic art & writing awards, and has been featured on the huffington post, susan cain's quiet revolution, and we are three dimensional. she tweets @valerie_wu.