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Music That Matters

Jorja Smith - Imperfect Circle

Key Lyrics

“Too much news about abusing color
We're all a canvas would you paint me red if I was darker?
Too much blood spilt, it's like you can't escape the history
What was once is now now, just more eyes can see
We're all becoming too acquainted to these tainted lies
Like it's normal to be stop searched and then end your life
If I saw Martin would he tell me that he's had a dream?
But if he's dreaming I would rather let him stay asleep”

Full Lyrics

Where’s the Meaning?

Jorja Smith’s thought provoking song “Imperfect Circle” highlights the age-old saying that history repeats itself. In light of current events regarding race relations (e.g. #BlackLivesMatter, Trayvon Martin, Charlottesville, etc.), “Imperfect Circle” grapples with the question of race relations, and in particular, can, or even more provocative, has anything changed since the days of Martin Luther King?

Focusing on the lines “too much blood spilt, it’s like you can’t escape the history, what was once is now now, just more eyes can see…” touches on the obvious yet cloaked point that these issues, that the African-American community is facing, are not new. These issues are only now getting attention because a greater degree of people are becoming aware via social media of the types of discrimination, subjugation, and systemic biases that have been plaguing the African-American community. As the song progresses into the chorus the listener is left with a feeling that even if a greater number people are aware of these injustices, will anything really ever change or will it just “go round, and round, and round again.”

Muse Points

  • What role does social media have to play in combating systemic injustices deeply rooted in our institutions? (See here for an article by Malcom Gladwell on the role that social media can play in social movements.)

  • Does simply having more awareness about an injustice help in solving the issue (e.g. The Kony 2012 Movement; Occupy Wall Street)?

  • Can (digital) social media really create change to the extent that (physical) sit-ins and marches did during the 60’s and 70’s?

  • How have inherent biases in institutional practices embraced and perpetuated discrimination over the years and how can we play a part in changing the system?

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