H.E.R. aka Gabriella Sarmiento Wilson, D’ Mile, and Tiara Thomas won an Oscar in the Best Original Song category for “Fight For You” at the 93rd Academy Awards ceremony that took place at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on 25 April. The song was featured in the motion picture Judas and the Black Messiah. The film connects to the period of the American Civil Right movements in the late 60’s and the foundation of the Black Panther Party. In the following article, I intend to analyse the song’s lyrics, its link to the movie’s narrative, and its connection to American history and social issues like racism and police brutality against ethnic minorities, especially against African-Americans in the United States of America.
About The Song
H.E.R. and Tiara Thomas did a professional job with lyrics writing, with lines that clearly demonstrate the protesting nature of the song. In terms of message, it is definitely suitable to be featured in Judas and the Black Messiah and connects to its narrative perfectly. Clear references to racism and police brutality can be also found within, especially in verse one.
“All the smoke in the air
Feel the hate when they stare
All the pain that we bear
Oh, you better beware
Their guns don’t play fair
All we got is a prayer
It was all in their plans
Wash the blood from your hands”
In fact, in this single verse there are three different references to be discovered. The second and third lines refer to hatred generated by one certain group of people towards another one, and even if it seems a vague and generalised reference to hatred, the narrative of the movie specifies it for us and shows us that the focal point of these thoughts is racism against African-Americans.
Then the fourth and fifth lines reference police brutality and the misuse of power by the badged members of American police departments across the country. This is essential to mention for two different reasons. The first one is that these thoughts can be linked to the storyline of Judas and the Black Messiah which is focused on telling the audience about the historical events that went on in Chicago in the late 60’s, where members of the Chicago PD used extreme brutality against protestors. The second reason is that the police violence depicted in the film is directed against ethnic minorities, especially affecting African-Americans, and is still present in America today. More than 50 years later, it has still not been dealt with on any level.
Then the sixth line refers to religion and its importance to a certain community which is again about the African-American community, further revealed by the storyline of the movie. This is essential to speak of, since Christianity has been playing a major role in the lives of the African-American communities for decades.
The lines of the pre-chorus and chorus are much more specific. They have a quite radical tone that suits the setting and storyline of the motion picture quite well.
“Freedom for my brothers
Freedom ’cause they judge us
Freedom from the others
Freedom from the leaders, they keepin’ us
Freedom gon’ keep us strong
Freedom if you just hold on
Freedom ain’t free at all, oh no
I’m gon’ see it through
There’s no one, there’s no one like you
Long as I’m standing, we can never losе (Uh)
I’ma always, always fight for you
I’ma always, always fight for you”
Its Connection to Racism & Police Brutality Against
African-Americans in the U.S. Nowadays
Racism and police brutality are still major social issues in the U.S. that have not been solved on any level. There have been numerous tragic incidents in recent years and their victims were disproportionately African-American.
For instance, there is the tragedy of Eric Garner, who was killed during his arrest by members of the NYPD in Staten Island in 2014, despite not showing any sign of resistance or threat towards the police. The reason for the arrest was selling untaxed cigarettes or at least that was what the involved officers claimed. Following Garner’s death, protests occurred across America that fueled the Black Lives Matter Civil Rights movement. It is also connected to George Floyd’s tragic death which happened in May 2020. Last week, Derek Chauvin former police officer was convicted with second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter for the murder of George Floyd. The jury found Chauvin guilty of all charges on 20 April 2021.
More than 50 years have passed since the protests that took place in Illinois in the late 60’s and unfortunately racism and police brutality are still social problems that must be dealt with on an institutional level not only in America but globally as well.
“Fight For You” is not only a great song, but a perfect match for the motion picture of Judas and the Black Messiah. It also has a notable message for all of us that social and racial inequalities that come from racism and hatred are still to be solved; and that we still have a long way to go regardless of which continent, nation, or culture we speak of. However, despite all of the above mentioned tragedies and unfortunate events, I think compassion and complete acceptance are reachable goals, and we will get there as long as we are guided by empathy, open-mindedness, and love. Our problems can be solved as long as we communicate and reach out to each other.
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
Martin Luther King Jr.
March 8, 1965, Selma, Alabama