// Lena Gahwi
Here is a playlist from an intersectional feminist who is still trying to have a good time.
Green Light, Lorde
Lorde makes good music, and she makes me feel so much cooler than I actually am. Green Light is a good anthem to remind you to let stuff go! Something we could all learn to do. It is a story of a breakup, and I don’t know about you, but I connect pretty hard. Lorde’s brand of empowerment tends to be very ‘white feminist’-y and I am no fan of that, but this song is thoroughly enjoyab le. It makes me dance alone in my room with a great deal of vigour which is always necessary and very fun.
Humble, Kendrick Lamar
This is a fire song, with a visually entertaining music video by Kendrick Lamar who I’m such a big fan of that I usually find it hard to be too critical. But here are a few points: Is it feminist that he sings about stretch marks? No. Is it a revolutionary statement? No way. Is it problematic that he uses a conventionally attractive light skinned woman in the video when attempting to talk about ‘real women’ (whatever that means)? Yes. (Side note: Can we please stop praising men for making half hearted attempts at empowering women? Ok, thanks.) However, this song will get you pumped, and that is necessary when you are trying to finish that essay that you left to the last minute. So, when you start freaking out, listen to this song, then sit down and write.
Any song by Beyoncé
I realize that not everyone is a Beyoncé fan, and although I find this fact to be confusing, I will respect it and proceed to ignore it. Beyoncé has come into her own in recent years and has become a major feminist icon. Or at least as much as an incredibly affluent celebrity can be a feminist icon, so, please take that title with a large grain of salt. However, she stands as an example of how regardless of fame and success, black women remain to be under fire for simply existing. Her most recent pregnancy showcased the vile critique black mothers are subjected to on a daily basis. This reality is incredibly demoralizing, but the solution can only be to listen to Beyoncé’s entire discography on repeat in order to forget about it.
I love Kanye, Kanye West
I love Kanye West’s music. Maybe I shouldn’t have this in print, because I know I will get flack for it, and I totally deserve it. Kanye West is incredibly problematic as a person, and so is his work. He is sexist, racist, and so out of touch with the real world… it blows my mind. But, he makes good music, he is a talented human being. It is highly disillusioning when a black man with such a powerful platform uses it to support those who wish to dismantle society’s safety nets, and seek to incite fear in our hearts. It strikes me as odd that someone who creates art that centres around the black experience doesn’t really understand it, and supports those that wish to make it more difficult. However, this is not a new critique;, people have been saying this for years. There is no doubt about the issues with Kanye and his work. You will come to realize that all of your studies will push you to be more critical about the world around you, this is what you’ve come to learn at Western. However, this doesn’t mean that you cease to enjoy the things you love. You must be cognisant of the real life effects of the actions of those like Kanye West, and you must be vigilant in calling them out, and fighting them as best you can. That being said, we live in a volatile time, and this gets really difficult sometimes. bell hooks would agree that you can enjoy the work of your problematic fave as long as you remain critical. Love what you love, but don’t forget the bigger picture.
Cherry Wine, Hozier
White dudes with long hair and guitars are my guilty pleasure. I sometimes wonder if it’s ok for me, an Arab woman in women’s studies, to love this type of music so much. Conclusion: yes. Yes, it is. There is no such thing as a right or wrong preference especially when it comes to music. Part of the dehumanization that people of various minorities face is when they are generalized. People of colour are not a monolith; this is a ridiculous assumption. So I say, you should proudly blast Hozier regardless of who you are because that dude is great.
Folk- Metaphysics, Milo
This is one of my favourite songs. I find Milo (Rory Ferreira) to be incredibly intelligent and I think it is exciting when you are listening to music and the artist references the obscure philosophers you have to read in class and can never imagine how they fit into the real world. Occasionally you need to listen to some melancholic sounding human singing on a track. This is a good late night studying type of song, or, I would highly recommend listening to it on low volume and reflecting on life. I just really vibe with this song, and I need to share it. You are welcome.
While trying to choose songs for this list, it became clear that the majority of my music is made by black individuals. This is both intentional and unintentional. Most of the genres I listen to were created by black people, and rightly, continue to be dominated by them. They have historically and in large part continue to be a critique of white supremacy and a symbol of black struggle. It is important to point out that since entering the mainstream, much of that history has been brushed to the side for the sake of profit. People like me are claiming the music as their own and listening to it without thinking about the consequences. This is not only harmful but downright impossible. We cannot appropriate this music without knowing about its past and what it stands for.
There is no Taylor Swift on this playlist. I think it is important to point that out because it is in fact, a statement.