First off, I want to thank friend of the blog, Chanel Bosh, for bringing this story to our attention! SayReal is a band from Los Angeles who released a new video for their new song "Frederick's Song (Freedom)", which is inspired by the work of Frederick Douglass. Unfortunately the video was met with some negative attention when their video launched on the AfroPunk Facebook page.
People, as they often do, responded with assumptions. The first being that the lead singer and other members of SayReal didn't have the right to sing a song based on the Abolitionist's work because of their race, and more specifically because they are not black. What many of these individuals didn't realize until it was explained, was that the lead singer and drummer are in fact biracial, born to a Jewish mother and African-American father. Some of AfroPunk's Facebook fans called the lead singer "Rachel Dolezal", suggesting the band was just "acting black".
Unfortunately this is not new to many multiracial individuals. Multiracial and biracial people have often said they grow up not feeling "white enough", "black enough", "asian enough", or whatever the case may be. On Swirl Nation Blog these are the types of notions we are aiming to change. We are working to do that through sharing stories of multiracial individuals from across the globe who are proud of their mixed heritage and can choose to express themselves however they feel best.
Take a look at just a small sample of the ugliness that was expressed in the comments section:
Others stated their concern was that the band was described as "reggae" when they are more pop. Although the description in the bio says "reggae-folk fusion" who make "soulful rock music for the revolutionary soul" which to me sounds like a perfect description and is another great example of culture mixing, and creating new sounds, new hybrids, and new ways for people to express themselves.
SayReal is a reggae-folk fusion band, fronted by vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Naia Kete, that's based in L.A. where they make soulful rock music for the revolutionary soul. Today, we’re premiering the video for their single "Frederick's Song (Freedom)", a visionary’s anthem co-written by academic Richard Fink and based on the life, message, and teachings of Abolitionist Frederick Douglass. "It reflects the social, political and economic freedoms we all must remember to relentlessly fight for. With the beat of a revolutionary hymn and an infectious chorus, this is an anthem that inspires us all to never idly stand by while there is injustice," the band tells AFROPUNK.
As the mother of a multiracial daughter I know how I feel. I am raising my daughter to be proud of her cultures, all of them. As she grows up and expresses herself in different ways she should have as much license to express her black side as she does her white. That is her truth.
I love this song and if nothing else I am glad this controversy allowed me to discover the music of SayReal and I for one am happy to see musicians writing about a topic as important as the work of Frederick Douglass. Please enjoy the video and I would urge everyone in our multiracial community and beyond to share it. xo